Plumber fitting tap

10 Plumbing Things to Check Before Buying a Home

Imagine you’ve finally found the house of your dreams. There’s enough room for your family to grow and the neighbourhood is idyllic. You can’t wait to open a new chapter in your life.

However, there is one thing that the sellers are trying to hide from you. The property comes together with a major plumbing problem. Fixing it costs a small fortune, and the sellers would rather keep this as a dark secret until they sell the house.

Unfortunately, major plumbing issues can’t really be discovered during a casual inspection. Before making the purchase, a homebuyer has to make sure that there’s nothing wrong with the plumbing system.



Here are 10 things you’ll want to check if you don’t want to end up with a sewage nightmare:

Toilets, Sinks, and Faucets

How to get a good idea about the general health of the house’s plumbing system? The answer is pretty straightforward – by checking the taps and fixtures. You should:

  • Look around the toilet’s water chamber and the base for leaks
  • Flush all toilets to check the drainage
  • Check for leaks below the sink and around the faucets
  • Turn on and off every tap in the house

Water Stains

A good sign of leaky pipes is the presence of water stains on the ceiling or walls.

Leaky pipes aren’t expensive to fix, but repairing the damage they make can cost a fortune. While you’re on the lookout for water stains, make sure to check for mould and mildew as well.

Primary Sewer Drain

This is particularly important if you want to buy an older house. Not only could the primary sewer drain be breaking down due to age, but there could also be tree roots growing into it.

However, verifying the state of the sewer can be challenging. You’ll probably have to hire a licensed plumber, who will then conduct a camera inspection.

Keep in mind that undiscovered sewer drain problems often lead to floods and water damage.

Water Meter

Another thing that helps with detecting hidden leaks in the system is the inspection of the water meter.

Turn off every tap in the house and have a closer look at the water meter. Is it still turning? If so, there are probably some hidden leaks in the plumbing system.

Shut-Off Valve

Another plumbing thing to check before buying a house is the shut-off valve.

Close it fully and then try turning on taps throughout the house. The valve is probably faulty if the water gushes out or drips slowly.

In addition to the primary shut-off valve, make sure to check any other valves, like the ones controlling the water flow to the shower or toilet.

Tap or faucet


Water Heater

Replacing this crucial appliance after you’ve just bought a new house can be a major expense. Make sure to closely inspect the water heater and check for:

  • Rust or corrosion on any part of the tank
  • Strange sounds in the tank
  • Any leaks at the outlet or inlet valves
  • Sandy or muddy fluids coming out of the hot water tap
  • The age of the appliance (most models are built to last for 15 years)

Septic System

In case the house is not using local sewerage but a septic system, you’ll have to check if it’s working properly. The best way to do this is by running a video camera through the system.

The most common issues with septic tanks are related to broken septic pipes. These are installed close to the surface, which makes them vulnerable to corrosion and tree roots.

Water Pressure

Even though bad water pressure can be solved with new taps or showerheads, you should check it out anyway.

How to determine if there’s sufficient water pressure in the house you want to buy? The easiest way to do this is to turn on the shower that’s farthest away from the water source.

In case an upstairs shower works well, the rest of the fixtures probably work well, too.

Winterized Pipes

If you’re buying a house in an area with severe weather, make sure it has a plumbing system that can handle such conditions.

Are the pipes wrapped and insulated? If so, the house has winterized pipes. If the property uses well water, make sure the well is protected from extreme cold.

Water Hardness

Hard water can cause a lot of trouble. If left untreated, this issue can lead to scale buildup in the pipework, which then leads to clogs and low water pressure.

Inspect the exterior of the fixtures. If you notice signs of scale buildup, ask for a reduced price.

Buying a new home is a big investment, so make sure to do it right. By checking the things mentioned above, you won’t end up with a house that requires costly plumbing repairs.

Further reading: Understanding and Managing Hard Water at Home: Health and Cleaning Considerations


Kevin has gone through an extensive home renovation with his son, which he has both

thoroughly enjoyed, and dreaded every morning. He is now the proud owner of half his dream house (the other half has been waiting for spring). You can read more of Kevin’s work on PlainHelp.

About Dylan Garton

Dylan Garton is a co-founder, video producer and editor for the Skill Builder social media platforms.

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