Whether it’s the charm or the affordability, old homes are attractive to many buyers. For many first-time buyers, older homes are the only practical option. While the price tag may be lower, the home may come with some baggage that will cost a fortune in the long-run.
Foundation and roof issues are serious expenses, but there’s one system in the home that many potential buyers overlook: the plumbing.
Here’s what you need to know about old plumbing systems.
Many older homes have galvanized pipes. Even with diligent maintenance, galvanized pipes will corrode over time and eventually plug up.
Hot-water pipes are usually the first to clog. When you tour the home, do yourself a favor and turn on the hot water. If the pressure is low, there’s a good chance the home has galvanized pipes that have a fair amount of corrosion.
It’s difficult to get a complete picture of the plumbing system, as most of it is hidden behind walls. If the home has a crawl space and you’re comfortable going into it, you can get a better idea of the type of plumbing in the home.
Old Home Sewer Systems
If the home is connected to a sewer line, then the homeowner owns the line from the house to the street. Any issues in the line between these two points is the responsibility of the homeowner.
In older homes, it’s not uncommon to find sewer lines clogged by roots or crushed. A sewer camera inspection will give you a better idea of the condition of the line.
“Using our video inspection and sewer locating technology, we determine the damage and assess whether we can use a trenchless repair method to reverse the damage, such as cured-in-place pipe lining, pipe bursting, or point repair,” says Jim Dandy Sewer & Plumbing, which offers sewer repair services in the Seattle area. “If we cannot use a trenchless method then traditional open trench excavation may be required. Sometimes the pipes are too damaged and damaged in too many locations, in this case, trenchless technology may not be an option.”
If you’re serious about buying an older home, it’s worth the cost of a camera inspection to see what you’re up against. It can be very expensive to replace a sewer line.
Sewer lines can be made out of clay, cast iron or plastic. Some old homes from around the WWII era are fitted with pipes made from tarpaper. These undoubtedly need to be replaced.
Cast iron pipes will corrode over time and clay pipes are susceptible to root damage. Plastic pipes were common in the 1980s, and while durable, they can easily be crushed.
Old homes are bound to suffer from age-related ills even with the most diligent of maintenance. That’s okay if you’re prepared for the costs that come with the home. But if you’re not, you could wind up with a money pit of a home that brings you nothing but frustration and heartache.
Does that mean you should steer clear of old homes? Not necessarily. But you should ensure that you have the plumbing and sewer system thoroughly inspected before signing on that dotted line.
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