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How to Check the Plumbing Before Buying a House

If you’ve ever watched the Property Brothers or any home restoration television shows, you understand how old plumbing can become a serious and expensive problem if not checked in advance. Home inspections may find problems but by that time, the house is already in escrow.  Plus a home inspection can only reveal so much.

Old or faulty plumbing can cause expensive problems if they aren’t caught before things get worse. If issues are identified before an offer is made, the seller will be in a position to negotiate a better price or fix what is not right. As such, we’ve put together a checklist you can use before falling in love with the house and overlooking any potential complications.

Water Heater

Water heaters need to be replaced every 8-12 years to remain efficient and on the cutting edge of energy efficiency. Although its longevity also has to do with its location, design, and installation. If a leak is discovered around the base, the unit probably needs to be replaced unless there is an associated electrical problem, such as a blown fuse. Other things to check:

  • Raise the temperature if the water is not as hot as you like. If that doesn’t result in a change then a faulty thermostat or a defective heating element is likely if the water is not as hot as you like.
  • If it is hissing or making other noises, ask how long it has been since the tank has been drained.
  • If the pressure-relief valve leaks, it needs replacing.
  • Any leaks on any part of the water heater mean the fittings need tightening or replacing.


Look for leaks at the toilet’s base and also look for remains of a sealer that may have been used to fix prior leaks. Sealers are not a recommended fix as it is like a bandaid that simply covers the wound.

Flush each toilet in the house to make sure they flush easily. Also, try sitting on each toilet to make sure they are bolted down properly and not rocking. No one needs a rocking toilet.

Water Supply Pipes

Inquire as to the age of the water supply pipes. If they have been replaced, find out when. Take a look to see if they are steel,  plastic or copper? Older steel pipes tend to corrode and rust so will eventually need to be replaced. Plastic and copper pipes are newer and resist corrosion, so are used in newer homes.

If you notice a variety of pipe materials, it is likely that there have been a few “fixes” and no replacements. Most plumbing companies will agree that mixed-use piping is a surefire sign of a  lack of proper maintenance.

Sewer Line

Most home buyers don’t think about checking the sewer line, which can end up being a huge problem if not discovered in advance. Sewer repair can be very expensive and that includes both new and old homes. Old sewers can collapse and send sewage into the home. Tree roots can destroy sewer lines without a warning until it is too late.  Sewer camera inspections are available from reputable plumbers and are highly recommended. The cost to repair a sewer line can be anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 versus a professional plumber who would charge $100-300.

Inside Water Lines

This is a simple check. Inside water lines are visible as they are situated under sinks, above or behind laundry appliances, showers, bathtubs, and faucets. Walk through each area of the house to see if anything is dripping, leaking or not working at all. Turn on all of the faucets, and shower heads to check the water pressure and rusty water.

Waste Disposal and Drain Lines

Find out if wastewater goes through a city disposal system or does the home have a septic tank. If it uses a septic tank, get the specifications, such as:

  • The capacity of the septic tank
  • Where it is located on the property
  • Check the soil near the tank to see if it is more soaked than it should be
  • Make sure the septic tank does not have a foul odour

Identify All Plumbing Problems in Advance


Most home buyers are not interested in spending additional funds to fix plumbing that should be in top condition before listed as a property for sale. New Canadian Drain & Plumbing can help you determine whether the prospective home purchase is in proper plumbing shape before you make an offer.  It will save time and ultimately money.

 For a free consultation, call 416-651-2990 or contact us here!

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