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. Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

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

  24. What is a heat pump water heater?

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

  26. What are the common problems to look for when the plumbing has been replaced in a house?

  27. What is a dielectric union?

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

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

  30. Why is a European-style bottle trap not approved by the plumbing codes in the U.S.?

  31. What is difference between a single element and dual element electric water heater?

  32. What are the requirements for installing a gas appliance connector?

  33. What is an escutcheon plate?

  34. What is the loose wire sticking out of the ground under the gas meter for?

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

  36. How can I locate my septic tank?

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

  38. What do the ABS, PVC, CPVC, PB, and PEX plumbing pipe names mean?

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

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

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

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

  43. Why is there water in my water heater drain pan?

  44. What is a sediment trap or dirt leg?

  45. Is a hot water faucet required at a washing machine?

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

  47. Which plumbing fixtures require water shut off valves in a home?

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

  49. What is the minimum and maximum slope of the trap arm of a plumbing drain?

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 lifespan of the copper pipe is also affected by the grade of pipe installed. There are three grades:

  1. Type K - 0.049 inch thick wall, recognizable by green lettering on pipe

  2. Type L - 0.040 inch thick wall, recognizable by blue lettering on pipe

  3. Type M - 0.026 inch thick wall, recognizable by red lettering on pipe

    Both L and M are commonly used in residential construction. Obviously, Type L pipe’s thicker wall means a longer lifespan, but Type M is the predominant one installed. Patina formation on the surface may make it difficult for you to identify the lettering color on older pipe.

    In our area, we primarily find leakage under the floor slab. Copper pipe should be set in clean fill sand under the floor slab when the house is constructed, because the acidity of regular black soil will accelerate the pitting. “If the pipe was not bedded properly in sand, or cheap copper pipe was used, under-slab leaks can start as early as 10-years after the house was built,” according to James Freeman, of J.W. Freeman Plumbing.

    Another cause of copper pipe leakage is shown below, in the compartment under a master bathroom spa tub. “The green area on the pipe is from the acidic flux that was used to make the solder joints not being wiped off after the joint was made,” says James. “And the white crud buildup is a very small active leak that leaves water-mineral deposits behind as the water leaking out evaporates.” You can also see more of it in a small pile on the floor below the leak.

    To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post “How accurate are the average lifespan ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?”

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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