Plumbing Red Flags to Look for When Buying a New Home

A leaky faucet outside a blue wall.

Shopping for a new home is an exciting time for anyone, whether it's their first house or their fifth. Finally getting to move in after finding your dream home is even more exciting. So when something goes wrong, especially if it's an expensive repair, it can be devastating.

There are a lot of things to look for when buying a home, and plumbing should definitely be on the top of the list. Plumbing repairs are one of the most expensive home repairs because plumbing is hidden within the walls or under the floors, making it hard to assess and access. Here are some red flags you should pay attention to when shopping for a home to avoid expensive repairs down the road.

Sputtering Faucet

If the faucet sputters when you turn it on, it's most likely caused by air in the pipes. If this only happens every once in a while it's usually fine, but if it gets to be persistent it may be a red flag for something more serious. For example, a sputtering faucet could be a sign that your hot water heater is overheating. If this is the case, you will need to get it repaired ASAP or it could explode.

Stains on Walls and Ceilings

Peeling paint on a white ceiling.

A definite red flag is any stains on a wall or ceiling. Stains are often the result of a leak, which could be coming down from the roof or from a leaky pipe, which is why it's important to find out the cause of the stain. If you're lucky, the stain could be from a previous problem that has been fixed. If you choose to ignore it, however, it could cost you a ton of money in repairs.

Try to also notice if there are any random patches of fresh or peeling paint—some homeowners will quickly paint over a stain in an attempt to hide it rather than deal with it.

Weak Water Pressure

When inspecting a house, always turn on the faucets to check the water pressure. If there is low water flow, that might be a sign of plumbing problems. Weak water pressure is often caused by clogged pipes. Debris like sand, dirt, and pollutants often enter your pipes when there is a fracture in a water main. It can also be caused by plumbing leaks because instead of the water coming out of your faucet it could be leaking out somewhere else.

Poor Drainage

A sink with water in it.

Poor drainage of sinks, bathtubs or back-up basement floor drains might be a sign of a cracked or rooted sewer pipe, which will be a very expensive repair.

Leaks and Drips

Whenever you look at a potential home, always check for leaks from pipes, plumbing fixtures, and fittings. Not only are leaks and drips a waste of water and money, but they can cause some serious damage.

A lot of leaks go undetected for years, so by the time you realize there's a leak the damage could already be done. You should check for leaks between the meter and the house in the water supply line. Also check to make sure none of the faucets or toilets are leaking.

Leaks are often the cause of water damage in a house, and if that damage is a result of an unresolved maintenance issue, your home insurance most likely won't cover it.

Mildew and Mold

Mold on a wall by the window.

Make sure to check for mold, especially in basements and laundry rooms. If you find white or green colonies of mold it could be a sign of excessive water, which can be caused by a number of things including problems with the sump pump. Mold can also be caused by leaky pipes. While removing mold itself can be a hassle, not finding out the cause of the mold can make your life even more difficult. Mold can cause different health problems such as stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, eye irritation, and skin irritation.