5 Plumbing Issues to Look for When Buying a House


If you’re in the market for a new home, you’re probably aware of how fiercely competitive the market has become. In fact, the hot seller’s market has left many recent home-buyers feeling rushed during the process and regretful after the fact. Worse, around 36% admitted to making an offer on a home sight unseen just to avoid missing out on a deal! While we understand the drive to make sure you’re finding the home of your dreams, it’s also crucial to check for subtle problems—like plumbing issues—before you take the leap.

Major plumbing problems can really clog up your home purchase, which is why we often recommend doing at least a DIY check for errors even if you aren’t seeking an expert plumbing inspection in Detroit, MI. Before you make an offer, here’s how to check for plumbing issues when buying a house.

1. An Aging Water Heater

On average, you can expect a brand-new water heater to last around a decade. One quick way to find out whether or not it’s working is to try getting hot water from a tap somewhere in the house. If the water takes a while to warm, or if it never gets warm at all, there may be an issue with the water heater.

You can also check with the real estate agent to get the approximate date of this appliance’s installation. If the water heater was installed close to ten years ago—or worse, even longer—you’ll need to factor in the cost of a replacement during your negotiations over the home’s final price tag.

One other factor of note is the size of the water heater. Though every household is different, a good rule of thumb is that a household with four members will need a 50-gallon water heater tank to provide enough hot water to everyone.

2. Weak Water Pressure

Though it might seem like a minor factor while you’re blinded by the home of your dreams, weak water pressure can be annoying to deal with on a daily basis. Worse, this issue can sometimes indicate underlying plumbing issues as well.

To do a quick DIY plumbing inspection of the water pressure, go into the bathroom and flush the toilet while the sink is running. If the water pressure in the sink tapers off during the flush, it can sometimes be a sign of plumbing problems throughout the house.

3. Evidence of Water Damage From Past Plumbing Issues

Past leaks and plumbing issues can sometimes be an indicator of future problems, which is why it’s smart to keep an eye out for evidence as you make your way through the house. There are a few things worth checking for, and you don’t need in-depth knowledge of how to inspect plumbing to do it.

First, look for any brown marks or water stains on the ceilings. These can be more common in crawlspaces and basements, so be sure to check these smaller areas. Warping on the walls, especially in the bathroom or kitchen, can be a sign of leaking or corroded pipes.

You’ll also want to look for any signs of leaking pipes throughout the home, as well as any shoddy past repair work. Looking for leaks and discoloration on the pipes beneath the bathroom and kitchen sinks is also a smart move.

Pay particular attention to the toilets, which are common sources of leaks and can be a hassle to fix. Discoloration around the base of the toilet, as well as warping and stains on the floor, are both good warning signs. Any instability when you sit on the toilet may be a warning sign as well.

4. Slow Drainage

While you’re in the kitchen and bathroom, take a peek down the drains to look for any signs of corrosion: though it isn’t common, it’s worth a quick check during your visual home inspection.

Next, run water into each sink or tub for a while, checking to be sure how fast the water drains. If you notice slow drainage in a single sink or tub, it’s likely a small clog in the nearby pipe.

However, if there’s slow drainage in fixtures throughout the home, it might be something deeper within the system—which can call for a costly replacement. A drain line inspection can help you understand how deep the issue goes.

5. Older Pipes

If you’re interested in an older Missouri home or a historical property in your area, be on the lookout for lead pipes. Though these pipes were once used in homes nationwide, Congress deemed them a health hazard back in the eighties, as they can cause lead poisoning over time.

Though galvanized steel pipes are less toxic, they can still rust and corrode as they age, which is why it’s a good idea to know when they’ll need replacing. Signs of rust on these pipes can be a red flag.

Last, if the pipes in the home are a mixture of different metals and materials, it might be a sign that the previous homeowner did minimal repairs and replacements as the original system wore down. This can be a red flag as well, as it can indicate that future issues with the piping are right around the corner.

Unfortunately, replacing pipes can be an expensive task, so you’ll need to consider this cost before you take the plunge when buying a house.

Consider a Plumbing Inspection in Detroit, MI

No one wants to learn that their dream home has plumbing issues, but it’s always smart to go into a real estate purchase with your eyes wide open. While you can use the tips above to check for a few of the most common plumbing red flags in a new home, reaching out to an expert is always a safer bet.

Our team of plumbers in Detroit, MI can help you identify the issues above as well as subtle and sneaky red flags throughout a new home, including headaches like sewer line clogs. This knowledge allows you to make a more informed decision before you dive into your home purchase. To learn how we can help, or to schedule a home plumbing inspection, contact us today.