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Buying an Older Home? Ask About These Common Plumbing Issues

So, you’re thinking about purchasing an older home. Or you already live in one. We understand why. They have charm, character, and nostalgic qualities. If you have a fixer-upper, it’s likely more affordable than a newer home--paving the way for your dream renovations. No matter what enticed you to select an older house, there’s something you want to make sure is in good shape now: the plumbing.

Your plumbing system accounts for 15% of your home’s value, so if you have not purchased your older gem, yet, you’ll want to ask questions about how the plumbing was maintained under previous ownership. Plumbing that is more than 25 years old is more prone to blockage and breakage.

If you hire a home inspector, listen carefully to the plumbing repairs suggested; however, it can be challenging for the inspector to spot faulty and defective pipes, so you should consider hiring a professional plumber during the inspection process, as well.

Here’s what to look out for:

Copper Pipes

Copper pipes are common in homes built between the 1930's to today, but some older homes may have been outfitted with copper pipes that include lead-based solders. Lead, in high levels, is toxic and has been linked to kidney and brain damage, especially in young children. In 1986, Congress enacted the Safe Drinking Water Act prohibiting the use of lead in water pipes, but before then, it was common in copper piping. Make sure to get yours tested.

Old Sewer Lines

Your sewer lines channel waste out of your home and through underground pipes toward the main sewer. Sewer lines that are more than 25 years old can start to erode, leak at the joints, and even attract tree roots. Sewer piping made of clay and cast iron are more vulnerable to cracking and tree root intrusion. Hire an experienced plumber to inspect your sewer lines with cameras and make repairs.

Outdated Water Heaters

You’ll want to know the last time your water heater was serviced or replaced. Conventional tank water heaters last between 8-12 years, so if yours is in this age range, it may be more cost-effective to replace it with a modern unit. Tankless water heaters are an alternative that tend to be more efficient and offer significant energy savings.

For That Matter—All Old Plumbing

It’s worth the extra effort to get all your major appliances—plumbing and beyond—thoroughly inspected. Old plumbing fixtures can mask costly water leaks and even lead to higher insurance rates. Consider replacing older items like toilets and dishwashers with new, water-efficient models that are certified by the federal Water Sense Program.

Years of DIY Jobs

The previous homeowners may have attempted to perform their own plumbing repairs to save money. As the newest homeowner, you’ll want to make sure that their DIY jobs are up to code and include the correct piping. Make sure you pinpoint potential DIY jobs during your home inspection and get them checked out.

This is just the starting point when it comes to ensuring plumbing in your older home is move-in ready for you and your family. To get your older home’s plumbing inspected or to schedule a repair or replacement, contact your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing expert.