Whether you’re buying a property or renovating your current home, a plumbing check is always a good idea.
The good news is you can do a lot of it yourself.
1. Obtain a drainage diagram
A drainage diagram is a plan of the property showing where all the pipes run. If the real estate agent or property inspection report doesn’t offer a copy, you should be able to obtain one from your water board.
Match the fixtures – bath, sinks, toilet etc. – with the pipes on the diagram. If there are any differences – be wary. This diagram must be kept up to date. If you are buying a place that has been renovated and the diagram is out of date, it may indicate that the plumbing changes were not approved by the water board and have not been done by a professional.
If you’re renovating, the diagram will show you where the pipes are so you don’t accidentally damage one while re-doing the bathroom, kitchen or laundry. If you change the position of the fixtures, don’t forget to update the drainage diagram.
2. Go with the flow
One very easy check you should do is turn on and off all the taps and shower heads, and flush the toilet in the property to test the water pressure and the drainage. Don’t forget the washing machine valves in the laundry too. Listen for water hammer, which indicates either that the water pressure is too high or there’s an unsecured pipe that causes a banging noise when the water is shut off. Water should drain quickly down sink-holes and toilet bowls; any gurgling or slow-moving water indicates a blockage. While these problems are relatively minor, they may give you a bit of leverage when negotiating to buy a property. When renovating, make the effort to regulate water pressure and clear blockages so a burst pipe or flooding doesn’t wreck your reno.
3. Look & feel
Don’t forget to look under sinks and around fixtures for signs of damage such as cracks, leaks and water stains.
If there are tiles on the wall, press around them: if soft, there may be water damage behind them. Stained cabinets in the bathroom or kitchen can also be a sign of water damage.
Uncover: Hidden plumbing problems
If you’re concerned that these smaller problems may be an indication of larger issues, bring in a professional plumber to make an assessment before you buy. If you can get a quote, you may be able to use this in your negotiations with the seller or real estate agent.
If you are renovating, get these things fixed before you renovate. Water damage can undo all of your hard work and it can be difficult and expensive to fix.