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3 Plumbing Issues That Alarm Home Buyers

Buying a house can be stressful, because some properties can have serious maintenance problems. The only way to protect yourself from these serious maintenance problems is to negotiate repairs during the sale process, or walk away from the purchase.

Plumbing problems can do damage to the structure of the house, causing rot and even mold. You can avoid these issues by watching out for certain plumbing problems when looking at homes to buy. Here's what you need to watch for when going to home showings during the home buying process.

1. Old Water Heater

Water heaters usually last, at most, about 12 years. However, old water heaters can develop leaks that do serious damage inside homes. If the home you're thinking about buying has an old water heater, you may have to buy a new one after the home purchase.

The home warranty (if the house comes with one) may cover the cost for a replacement water heater when the old one breaks. Homeowners insurance may repair the water damage. However, you won't be able to recover the time and energy spent drying the house and making repairs if your water heater breaks down.

If you buy a home with an old water heater, you may be better off replacing the appliance before it breaks. It's often hard to tell how old a water heater is just by looking. The best way to find out is to ask the real estate agent representing the seller, or ask the home inspector when you have it inspected.

2. Polybutylene Pipes

Polybutylene (PB) pipes are a type of inexpensive, plastic pipes that were popular decades ago from 1978 through 1995. These pipes are not typically installed in modern homes, so most residential PB piping is several decades old. Over many years, polybutylene pipes will flake apart and start to leak at the joints, causing water damage.

PB pipes are often found in the supply lines that feed water into faucets. Pipes connecting drains to the sewer are often made out of another plastic material known as PVC, so you probably won't be able to tell just by looking under the sink whether or not a home has PB pipes or PVC pipes.

The best way to determine whether or not a house has PB pipes is to ask the real estate agent representing the seller. Sometimes this information will also be available in the listing. If you buy a home that does have PB piping, you may be replacing those pipes in just a few years.

3. Sewer or Septic Tank Problems

Sewer and septic tank problems can do hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage. Though these issues aren't always easy to identify, you might be able to tell if a home has a clogged sewer or septic tank by flushing the toilets and running water down the drains.

If there's a clog in the mainline or the sewer, the lowest drains in the house may drain slowly. You might also notice a gurgling noise in the drains.

When flushing the toilets, you may see water back up into the bathtub. These situations could all be signs of a serious problem. If you are able to identify signs of a sewer or septic tank problem, have the sewer or septic tank inspected carefully before making an offer on a home.

Work With the Experts

Old plumbing can be a problem. Talk to your real estate agent to negotiate repairs before finalizing the sale, or ask for a discount during the negotiating process.

If you're a home buyer who is thinking about purchasing an older home, contact a plumbing expert for advice and information about old home plumbing. At Cleary Plumbing & Air, we're happy to answer your questions about plumbing and buying a home. Call today for more information.