5 Essential Plumbing Elements to Inspect Before You Make an Offer On a Home

House hunting can be an exciting venture, no doubt about it. When you tour homes for sale, it’s likely that you’ll be most interested in the aesthetic aspects of the house, like its design and layout, whether or not it will be spacious enough for your family, what kind of floors there are and what condition they’re in, and similar considerations.

A house is a huge investment, of course. And while it’s certainly important to choose one that is appealing in terms of its appearance, it is just as crucial to consider the state of a house’s structure and systems. There’s no sense in purchasing your dream house if its electrical system is shoddy, the roof will need to replaced ASAP, or the plumbing is in poor shape.

Today, we’re focusing on that last aspect. But how can you test out the plumbing to see if it’s potentially problematic? There’s no substitute for actually living in a particular place to ascertain whether or not everything is in good working order — but following this checklist is the best way to assess a home before you put in an offer.

Essential Elements of Plumbing To Check Before Buying a Home

Inspections and appraisals can provide valuable information about the unseen elements of a home, and it’s always a good idea to gather as much information as you can about any house that you are considering buying. However, there are some aspects that you really need to look at yourself in order to evaluate them. The plumbing is definitely one of those! Before you get carried away by beautiful bay windows, gleaming hardwoods, or a state-of-the-art kitchen, take a peek at the plumbing.

Flush the Toilets

It may sound crass, but savvy homebuyers take time during the tour to excuse themselves and use the facilities. Whether you actually use the toilet or not, this is the perfect time to give it a flush and observe what happens.

Ideally, the contents of the toilet will flush away thoroughly and the water will then refill the bowl quickly. It shouldn’t be particularly noisy. And while a running toilet is usually a quick fix, it might be a warning sign in this instance — if the owners didn’t bother taking care of this issue, what other problems might have  been left unaddressed?

Run the Showers and Baths

While you are still in the bathroom, step over to the bathtub or shower. Turn on the water, switch it from the spigot to the showerhead, and see what’s what. Is there ample water pressure? Is the showerhead running smoothly? Does the tub or shower drain well, or does standing water develop quickly?

Another issue to be on the lookout for is rusty water. Check the appearance of the water as it comes from the bathtub spigot. If it’s brown and brackish, that could indicate several situations with the home plumbing. These include:

  • Pipes that are rusty
  • Sediment in the water itself
  • Damage to the plumbing from construction
  • Break in the water main

Rust that only appears when the water is hot could indicate a problem with the heater. Maybe sediment has built up inside it, or the tank could be in bad shape. If the water is rusty no matter what its temperature, it’s likely that the home’s pipes are corroded. This is particularly true in older houses that have galvanized or iron plumbing systems.

There could also be problems that originate outside the home, such as a water main breakage, so don’t jump to conclusions — but do look more closely at the plumbing and make a note to ask the agent or seller.

See How the Other Sinks Are

Naturally, you want to continue the inspection after you leave the bathrooms. Make it a point to try out every sink in the home, including any in the laundry room or utility room. As you run the water, determine whether the pressure is good, how long it takes for the hot H20 to heat up, and if the drains seem to be functioning well. After you shut off the taps, stick around for a few seconds to make certain they are not dripping.

Inspect the Pipes Themselves

You’ll be able to check out visible plumbing pipes in the basement, under sink cabinets, and possibly in crawl spaces and attics too. Look to see if there is visible corrosion or leaks, or if they seem to have been patched up a number of times.

Unless the home is being sold as-is, you probably won’t see any pipes that are in a complete shambles or obvious disrepair. But it doesn’t take much time to give them a once-over — and give yourself peace of mind.

Learn more about fixing pipes at

Don’t Forget the Water Heater

The water heater is such a crucial component of the house that most real-estate agents will include its date of installation right with the other specifications on the listing. Nevertheless, take a look yourself.

Verify that the listed information matches up with the sticker on the heater itself. Obviously, the newer it is, the better — but that doesn’t mean older heaters are always insufficient. It’s just something to bear in mind as you consider upcoming expenses.

Pay extra attention to the heater if you noticed that the temperature of the so-called hot water didn’t live up to its name.

At the End of the Day

Evaluating every aspect of a home that will, hopefully, provide many years of shelter and comfort for your family can be a frustrating experience. But this is one time you really don’t want to skim over the details or give a task short shrift. If you’re not diligent about checking the plumbing and other vital systems in the house, you could be paying dearly for it in the future.

Did you inspect the plumbing when you bought your current house? Ever moved into a home only to find some nasty surprises that somehow got overlooked in the inspection? Let us know in the comments!


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