How to Look

at a House

A blog with answers
to your questions about

More Blog Posts about Plumbing:

  1. Should I upgrade to a tankless water heater?

  2. Why does my well pump turn on and off every time I use water?

  3. How old is that water heater?

  4. My air conditioner won’t turn on. What’s wrong?

  5. Should I wrap the water heater with an insulation blanket?

  6. What’s the powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?

  7. Do you check the plumbing under the floor slab?

  8. Do I have polybutylene pipe? Why is it a problem?

  9. What is causing a foggy haze on my windows?

  10. What is that big thing in the toilet tank?

  11. How do I remove cigarette odor in a house?

  12. What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe?

  13. What’s the flip-up handle on the water heater for?

  14. How come the water has a rotten-egg smell in some empty houses?

  15. My well water test came back positive for bacteria. What should I do?

  16. Do you test the well water?

  17. What is the difference between a regular water heater and a power vent water heater?

  18. How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

  19. How do you test a shower pan for leaks?

  20. Why is my water heater making strange (rumbling, gurgling, knocking or banging) noises?

  21. What is that pipe sticking out of the ground in the yard?

  22. What is the average life expectancy of CPVC pipe?

  23. Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

  24. What are the most common plumbing problems with older houses?

  25. What is a heat pump water heater?

  26. What is the average life expectancy of copper pipe?

  27. Why can’t PVC pipe be used for water pipe inside a house?

  28. What is the average life expectancy of PVC pipe?

  29. Is painted bathroom tile acceptable?

  30. What is an FVIR water heater?

  31. Why is sunlight exposure bad for PVC pipe?

  32. Is the hot water faucet handle required to be on the left?

  33. Why is a backflow preventer required on lawn sprinkler systems?

  34. What are the right words for talking about a house plumbing system?

  35. Should I seal the washing machine drain hose to the standpipe?

  36. How can I tell if a house is connected to a septic tank or sewer?

  37. How do you find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

  38. What is a sediment trap or dirt leg?

  39. My spa tub stopped working. What’s wrong?

  40. What is the purpose of a thermostatic mixing valve above a water heater?

Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

The photo below shows the crawl space in a 1950s house where only part of both the supply and drain pipe systems have been replaced. Portions of the original galvanized steel have been replaced with CPVC (cream-colored plastic, covered in the black insulation in photo), and some segments of the cast iron drain pipe have been replaced with PVC (white plastic).

The new plumbing appeared to be about 10 years old, and the original material that remained was having new corrosion and leakage problems, as shown in the two photos below.

Other things to look for in a house that has been re-plumbed are:

  1. 1) Insulation covering water supply pipes in the attic, crawl space, and exterior. Water expands when it freezes and fracture exposed pipes when that happens, so insulation is necessary in any area that may experience sustained sub-freezing weather in the winter.

  2. 2)Sufficient straps and clamps to secure the pipes in place, using materials approved by recognized rating agency and installed to building code specifications.

  3. 3)Locations that do not leave pipes exposed to damage from foot traffic nearby or stored items pushed up against them.

    If you are planning to have your house re-plumbed, be sure to clarify with the plumbing contractor what sections of pipe, if any, will be surface mounted under sinks or along walls and ceilings. Although surface mounted pipe is acceptable, it is not pretty. The trade-off is that installing new pipe inside the wall is sometimes much more expensive when it can’t be fished through the wall cavity. The work requires cutting out sections of wallboard, followed by a seamless repair and repainting. So surface mounting will save you money, and is usually the least offensive inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets, or in utility and laundry rooms.

    Also, will the plumber remove the old pipes or leave them in place? Rusty pipes with cut-off ends sticking out of the walls—like in the photo at the top of the page, with the new pipe surface mounted next to it—are also not aesthetically desirable. If you choose to live with the remnants of the old pipes still in place, we recommend that you have the plumber at least cap the ends of the pipe.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.


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