What to Know About Plumbing When You’re Buying a House

August 28, 2023

So you’re in the market for a new home—congrats! When you’re looking at potential properties, there will be so many factors to consider, both practically and aesthetically. One aspect of your potential new home you want to seriously think about is plumbing. When buying a house, considering the plumbing system is crucial to ensure that the property meets your needs and avoids potential issues down the line.

If you’ve never put much thought into plumbing, you’re not alone. Most people turn on a faucet or flush a toilet while taking for granted that everything works properly. Let’s take a look at everything you’re going to want to consider when it comes to the plumbing of your potential new home.

First: Well Water vs. Municipal Water

The biggest plumbing consideration you will have to make is the source of water in your potential home. Is it on a municipal water system, or does it get water from a well? Being on well water means that your primary source of water supply is a private well located on your property. Instead of relying on a public or municipal water system, well water is obtained directly from underground sources, typically groundwater. On the other hand, being on municipal water means that your water supply is provided by a public or municipal water system. Instead of relying on a private well, you receive treated and regulated water from a centralized system managed by a local government or water utility.

There are some pros and cons to each. Municipal water undergoes treatment processes to ensure it meets specific safety and quality standards, reducing the likelihood of contaminants and providing consistent water quality. But municipal water comes with recurring monthly bills, which can add to the overall expenses of homeownership.

Well water is typically free, eliminating monthly water bills associated with municipal water. With well water, you have control over the source and quality of the water, which can be appealing to those concerned about municipal water treatment processes. But well water quality can vary depending on the location, geological conditions, and maintenance of the well. It may contain higher levels of minerals, sediment, or contaminants, necessitating additional treatment or filtration. And unlike municipal water, which is regulated and monitored by water authorities, the responsibility for well water quality and safety rests primarily with the property owner.

Next: Your Plumbing Checklist

Beyond whether your new home is on well water or municipal water, there are many other factors you want to consider. Go over this checklist with your real estate agent to make sure you’re not going to run into any plumbing problems as soon as you move in.

☐ Water pressure 

Once you’ve determined whether you’re on well water or municipal water, the first thing you should do is check the water pressure and ensure it meets your requirements. Low water pressure can indicate underlying plumbing problems.

☐ Pipes and plumbing materials

Inquire about the plumbing materials used throughout the house. Common materials include copper, PVC, PEX, or galvanized steel. Different materials have varying lifespans and durability, so it's essential to understand their condition and potential maintenance or replacement costs.

☐ Drainage and sewage

Examine the drainage system. Ensure that wastewater is efficiently carried away from sinks, toilets, showers, and other plumbing fixtures. Consider the sewage system—whether it's connected to a public sewer line or relies on a septic system. If the latter, inquire about its maintenance history and compliance with local regulations.

☐ Water heaters and appliances

Determine the age, condition, and capacity of the water heater. Check if it meets the hot water needs of your household. Additionally, assess the condition of other plumbing appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators with water dispensers or ice makers.

☐ Plumbing fixtures

Inspect the condition of plumbing fixtures, including faucets, toilets, showers, and bathtubs. Look for leaks, signs of water damage, or inadequate water flow. Consider the overall quality and aesthetics, as upgrading fixtures can be costly if they need replacement.

☐ Insulation and pipe protection

Inquire about the insulation around pipes, especially in colder climates. Proper insulation prevents freezing and bursting pipes during winter. Check for any signs of existing pipe damage or insulation issues.

☐ Plumbing history and repairs

Ask about the plumbing history of the house. Find out if any major plumbing repairs or issues occurred in the past. Request documentation, such as maintenance records or invoices, to get a comprehensive understanding of the plumbing's condition.

☐ Professional inspection

Engage a professional home inspector to thoroughly assess the plumbing system. They can identify potential problems, leaks, or code violations that may not be apparent during a casual walkthrough.

Taking these factors into consideration will help you make an informed decision when purchasing a house, ensuring that the plumbing system is in good condition and meets your expectations for comfort, convenience, and long-term reliability.

If you need practical advice from a reliable professional about all things plumbing, count on our team here at Donovan Waterworks. Contact us at 410-240-5299.

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