There is no debating the charm and character that you will find in an older home. But you also need to ask yourself how charming is an ancient plumbing system. In most homes, the plumbing system accounts for around 15% of the value of the house. So keep that in mind as you tour older homes and decide what you can live with when it comes to older pipes, fixtures, and appliances. Some of the most critical areas to investigate include:
Copper pipes have been the top choice for water lines since the 1930s. However, those installed many decades ago could include solder that contains lead. This can lead to serious health issues when it contaminates drinking water. High levels of lead are linked to kidney and brain damage that is especially prevalent in children. The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1986 prohibits the use of lead-based solder in water lines. But any home constructed before 1986 should be inspected and tested if the water lines are copper.
Old Sewer Lines
A sewer line is the one pipe that connects all of the home’s drains and toilets to the city sewer main. And when that pipe reaches about 25 years old, its reliability and integrity become somewhat questionable. The pipe can erode, crash, or become crushed. And the result will be a mess of raw sewage either in your home or yard. Before making a purchase, hire a reputable plumber to perform a sewer line camera inspection to verify that the pipe is in good condition.
Outdated Water Heater
With an average life span of about a decade, the water heater in any home you are thinking about purchasing should not be terribly old. If the unit is older than ten years, it is best to ask for it to be replaced to avoid unpleasant and costly issues should it fail or begin to leak.
All Old Plumbing Fixtures
If you are looking at a fixer-upper, there are sure to be plumbing projects in your near future. But be sure to carefully inspect all of the existing fixtures for signs of damage. Also, look carefully around the older fixtures for any signs of water damage. Then create a detailed list of the items that you will be replacing and the cost of each. Ideally, you will have the opportunity to walk through the property with a licensed plumber who can point out areas of concern and potentially costly renovations.
A licensed plumber will also be able to spot any DIY projects that might not have been completed in an entirely professional manner. Any time you find DIY repairs or upgrades, it is worth your money to have a complete plumbing inspection completed above and beyond the standard home inspection. Unfortunately, some homeowners will cut corners and try to save a few dollars on projects that really should have been entrusted to a licensed plumber.
While natural wood floors and pocket doors add a great deal of interest to an older home, will that balance out for all the clogged drains and leaking water lines that you could be paying to have repaired? If you are willing to invest the time and money in an older place, invest in a plumbing inspection by a licensed plumber. Then make what you consider to be a fair offer on the property, knowing how much it will cost to upgrading the plumbing.
In the area, call (512) 910-8123 to schedule a plumbing inspection with the pros at Parobek Plumbing & Air Conditioning for an honest evaluation and price quote.