Problem: faulty plumbing
Problem: faulty plumbing
Water damage tops the list of homeowner frustrations and cost. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s important to remember that the water supply system is under pressure, and that water under pressure does interesting things, such as leave deposits in pipes and fixtures, corrode fixtures, and leak wherever there’s a weak spot in the system.
Vigilance is the key to taming the water supply system. Keep a regular eye on the following:
- Water lines and fittings. Check the system every few months for leaks and hard water buildup on faucets and toilet components.
- If you have an older home and the pressure diminishes markedly as a toilet fills, the fixture or bathroom may be tied into a too small supply line. You may have to reroute the line to a better source. Old galvanized pipes could also have mineral buildup that constricts the water flow.
- If your water comes from a private well, you may need to check the pressure tank and pump. Sometimes a bigger tank can compensate for a low flow well.
- Replacing corroding pipes with newer lines is a good investment. New flex tubing makes replacing old water lines easier and cheaper than upgrading with copper.
- Trace any leak to its source immediately. Ongoing leaks ruin floors, wall studs, sheetrock, and other components that gobble up cash flow fast.
- If you’re in a cold winter state, make sure pipes exposed to cold air are wrapped in insulation and/or heat tape. Check the heat tape connection daily. One duplex owner who shall remain nameless failed to do this and a pipe froze. By mid-afternoon when the pipe thawed, it split and water flooded the interior. The result was a costly restoration and unhappy tenants.
The other half of a home’s water system consists of the drain-waste-vent (DWV) pipes. Problems with this system show up when water drains slowly from a sink, tub, or shower. Causes can be:
- Hair, food, or other material blocking the drain; it’s an easy fix.
- Mineral build-up in the drain pipes is a little more serious. Replacing the pipes with ABS pipes is the best long-term solution.
- A vent pipe on the roof may be blocked, creating a vacuum that slows draining water. You’ll need to get on the roof and make sure there’s no obstructions in the pipe.
One serious indicator of a leak is water stains on a ceiling. A leaky shower pan, toilet seal, pipe or fixture has caused or is causing problems. For homebuyers this should be a red flag that signals potential water problems: Proceed with caution.
On the flip side, if you’re a homeseller, and the water damage is evident, do what’s necessary to fix the leak and restore floor, ceiling, or sheetrock to prior condition, pronto.
Once buyers see water damage—even though it’s been fixed—they become skeptical, and your chances of a good offer go down the drain.