How to Look

at a House


A blog with answers
to your questions about
HOME INSPECTION
and HOME MAINTENANCE

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.

Backflow Preventer - A device that keeps water from flowing backwards into water supply piping, to avoid sucking contaminants into potable water. Also called a vacuum breaker. Although integrated into multiple plumbing fixtures, a backflow preventer is clearly visible at the above-ground piping of a sprinkler system.

Black Water - Drain water from a toilet (containing fecal matter), as opposed to water from other fixtures, which is called Grey Water.

CPVC - Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride, a cream-color water supply pipe.

Escutcheon Plate - A collar around a pipe penetration at a wall to conceal the hole.

Hose Bibb - Also called hose faucet. An outdoor faucet or to supply a washing machine.

PEX - Cross-linked Polyethylene, a flexible water supply pipe.

Potable - Water that is safe for consumption.

PVC - Polyvinyl Chloride, a white plastic pipe used for water service pipe to a house, and drain-waste-vent piping inside the home.

TPR Valve - A Temperature and Pressure Relief valve opens to release excessive water pressure in a water heater if the thermostat fails and it overheats. Also called a T&P valve, it connects to piping that terminates near the floor or ground outside.

Tailpiece - The pipe that connects the drain outlet of a sink ((or other fixture) to the trap below.

Trap - A curved section of drain pipe with a small amount of standing water that acts as a seal to prevent sewer gas from escaping into a house. A “P” trap is standard, and there is also an older type of unvented “S” trap that is no longer allowed.

Water Hammer - A loud banging or shuddering of water supply caused by hydraulic shock when a faucet is abruptly turned off. A Water Hammer Arrestor is a device installed near a fixture to absorb the hydraulic shock and prevent water hammer.

Wax Ring - A seal located between the bottom of a toilet and the floor flange to prevent leakage and escape of fumes.


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.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection


More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

  1. Does the septic tank have to be re-certified if the house has been vacant for a while?

  2. Do I have to get a larger septic tank when I build a home addition?

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

  4. Should I call a plumber or septic tank contractor when my septic tank backs up into the house?

  5. What is well pump “short cycling”?

  6. How much does it cost to replace the plumbing pipe in a house?

  7. This home has galvanized water pipe. Is that a problem?

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

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

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

  11. How old is that water heater?

  12. Do you test the well water?

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

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

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

  16. What is a grinder pump?

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

  18. What is a dielectric union?

  19. What is a heat pump water heater?

  20. What is an auto vent, air admittance valve, or check vent?

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

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

  23. What is an escutcheon plate?

  24. How can I locate my septic tank?

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

  26. Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water?

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

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

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

  30. What is a sediment trap or dirt leg?

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

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

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