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Buying an Older Home? Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

Some homeowners seek older properties for their architectural charm and character rather than the modern look of newer homes. More dated properties that remain structurally sound were constructed with unique floor plans and materials that would be more expensive to replace than more modern homes and buildings.

First-time home buyers sometimes prefer older properties because other than being more affordable, the property tends to require upgrades and this gives the buyers a chance to renovate and realize their goal of obtaining their dream home. For this reason, older homes are attractive to buyers who don’t mind doing some renovations.

Beneath the fancy facade, the unique architecture, and antique fixtures, there could potentially be a multitude of plumbing problems. While some of these problems are minor, more complex issues could lead to significant property damage and require immediate attention from plumbing professionals.

A wise home buyer will consider that the plumbing system in older homes is often several decades old and may create unexpected problems without notice. This often leads to extensive repairs and replacement services. Here are the some common plumbing issues discovered in older properties and how to handle them.

Old Homes and Plumbing Problems

Older properties give some new homeowners more appeal than more modern designs, but they also have their fair share of plumbing issues. Renovations could improve the way the property looks and increase both its curb appeal and aesthetic value. Keep in mind that the skeleton of the property is where the most severe problems are located.

The most effective way to discover potential catastrophes is to have the property inspected, and the buyer must get an estimate for all plumbing repairs and replacements before buying the home. The plumbing system should be high on the buyer’s checklist for their next home purchase.

Common Plumbing Problems In Old Homes And Their Solutions

Plumbing issues in older homes don’t indicate that there aren’t any solutions to correcting them and giving the buyer a high-quality and beautiful home. Here are some of the plumbing issues in older homes and how to deal with them.

Old Pipe Materials

Materials for plumbing pipes have gone changes over time. Buyers should inquire about any recent renovations completed by the seller, especially for older homes. Recent plumbing renovations may indicate that the outdated plumbing lines were replaced with materials that are better.

Before buying, it is wise to have the plumbing system inspected to find out how much of the existing system was replaced, and how much it will cost to upgrade the existing plumbing system. The older properties may have plumbing lines manufactured from three outdated materials including:

  • Lead
    Lead is considered the oldest material used for plumbing lines, and it was often used for primary water and sewage lines. It was considered more durable and sustainable for plumbing systems before manufacturers could use blast furnaces to produce iron plumbing lines. The metal was also used when soldering connecting copper pipes to the plumbing system. Studies have proven that lead is toxic and produces a multitude of serious medical conditions and symptoms. Among them are gastrointestinal diseases, memory loss, fatigue, and irritability. Lead has also been proven to present an increased risk to children hindering their physical and mental development.
  • Galvanized 
    Properties constructed prior to the 1960s and thereafter featured galvanized plumbing lines that were constructed of iron with a zinc coating. Unfortunately, as the material deteriorated, the water lines become susceptible to corrosion and breaking. Construction companies of those days claimed that the plumbing lines could last as long as 60 years, but because of the unprotected metal, clogs would form quickly due to rust and cause problems with the plumbing system. The plumbing lines would become brittle and wouldn’t last, leaving homeowners with high replacement costs and the need to replace their entire plumbing system. The only way to correct galvanized plumbing lines is to replace them with better materials.
  • Polybutylene
    Polybutylene plumbing pipes were promoted as the “pipe of the future” and were installed in properties in the 1980s and into the 1990s. The use of the pipes was widespread for replacing existing pipes.  Oxidants were discovered in public water systems, causing a chemical reaction with the plumbing pipes and resulting in significant and fast deterioration. Some traditional homes may have existing plastic water lines. A property with these plumbing lines isn’t recommended, and the plumbing lines must be replaced.

Failing Sewer Lines

Sewage lines are buried underground and don’t present obvious issues until it is often too late to make easy repairs. The property’s exterior becomes flooded with wastewater and waste products. This causes a lingering foul odor throughout the property. Outdated sewage lines were not constructed to stand up to the wear and tear of modern-day appliances such as dishwashers and garbage disposals.

Even toilets can present a major problem with outdated sewage lines and cause failures. Tree roots could also present a major problem for outdated sewage lines, and if the roots grow into the lines, the pipes can fail and require extensive repairs. For most property owners, the repairs take no more than one day to complete to eliminate further sewage issues.

Outdated Fixtures and Connections

As homeowners know all too well, no system in their property will last forever. Residential properties have fixtures, faucets, and connecting water lines that may have exceeded their anticipated lifespan. As the plumbing system ages, it’s possible to find damage due to wear and tear and corrosion that prevent proper water flow that results in clogged lines. It is never a great idea to just ignore the issues and refuse to get a plumbing assessment.

This could lead to additional damage and more costly repairs. Plumbing damage is often sudden and unexpected because property owners do not get inspections as frequently as they should, and no homeowner wants to return from vacation to find a plumbing disaster.

The best solution is to schedule preventative plumbing maintenance regularly to monitor the condition of the plumbing system and to service it as needed. This could decrease the expense of repairs required because of wear and tear. It can also help the property owner find problems when they are minor. At New West Plumbing in Burnaby, Coquitlam and New Westminster, we offer plumbing inspections and routine plumbing maintenance. We recommend at least one inspection per year to maintain your plumbing systems.

Bad Repairs

All older properties present a risk of sudden and unexpected plumbing problems. It is never a matter of if but when the problem will arise. It is not a great idea for homeowners to see these repairs as a grand DIY project, and they should contact a professional to complete all plumbing repairs and replacement services.

By taking on the project themselves, the homeowner could increase their costs and waste their time. If the repairs are not completed properly, they could lead to more serious plumbing issues, and the property owner will spend more getting a professional to repair their mistakes. They could also face more extensive periods where they do not have access to water, and this is incredibly inconvenient for property owners.

In addition, some plumbing repairs could present a serious risk of personal injuries for the property owner if they try to complete the work themselves. If you find plumbing issues, avoid the possibility of a bad repair and contact our plumbing experts for assistance now!

When to Call Professional Help For Your Plumbing Problems

Prospective home owners who are attracted to the charming architecture of older homes sometimes fail to consider the multitude of plumbing problems these homes may have. Any property that is at least 30 years old should require a comprehensive plumbing inspection.
It is recommended that home buyers hire a plumbing professional to complete the inspection for them. As your local plumber in Burnaby, Coquitlam and of course New Westminster, New West Plumbing offers comprehensive plumbing services you can trust to make sure you don’t face hundreds of dollars in unnecessary plumbing repairs when buying a home. To set up inspections for older homes or to get plumbing services for your existing property, contact New West Plumbing now for an appointment!