Buying a home in San Diego is exciting. It may be a starter home, an “as is” flip investment or your dream home in Rancho Santa Fe. When buying, don’t overlook a complete sewer and drain service inspection before releasing contingencies. Don’t buy a money pit.
Plumbing problems can be very expensive, so its best to have an idea of what lies behind the walls and deep under the house before committing to hundreds of thousands of dollars in a purchase agreement. Potential repairs can be financially crippling, potentially costing thousands of dollars.
Anderson, Plumbing, Heating and Air is here to help you with a low-cost investment to give you the right information before you buy.
Our Property Buyers Guide to Inspections answers the most common questions every home buyer should be asking.
Who Conducts a Plumbing and Sewer Line Inspection?
Typically, a homebuyers’ inspector will conduct a basic inspection on everything in the home from the foundation to the water pressure and HVAC unit. These inspectors should be licensed contractors experienced with a keen eye for damaged or less than optimally performing home components. While this inspector is not a plumbing company, they most likely will advise a homebuyer to get more specialized inspections if they see problems.
For example, if the HVAC unit on your Del Mar home shows signs of corrosion in the unit or the temperature gun doesn’t register expected highs and lows, he might tell you to seek an HVAC inspection by an HVAC expert like Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air.
If the inspector suspects a problem with the sewer lines and drainage, he might suggest a video inspection from a professional plumber. He might suggest a simple drain cleaning service or point out one little clog. All this information is relevant.
What are the red flags in the general homebuyers inspection?
When it comes to the plumbing system, the inspector is testing items like water pressure, hot and cold water temperature and whether the water heater is properly installed and strapped in. He is also looking for the obvious clog and the less obvious problems suggesting a problem in the drain system.
Potential red flags the inspector notes in the inspection report include slow draining pipes, broken or stuck faucets, weak or extremely high water pressure. He’ll also note any signs of water damage or moisture under sinks, under the house or in odd places of the yard.
These are all potential issues that an inspector details so homebuyers can make informed decisions to research further or even get an estimate of potential costs.
What will a second specialized inspection do?
Even if the inspector doesn’t recommend a sewer line inspection, many realtors are now recommending it as one of their standard inspection requirements. This is especially true in San Diego beach communities like Del Mar where sandy dirt and salty water are especially harsh on plumbing systems for very expensive homes.
The most common plumbing inspection is a sewer video inspection performed by a reputable plumbing company. It looks for potential or existing problems throughout the sewer line drains from the main sewer drain pipe to the street connection or septic tank. Homeowners are responsible for all drain and sewer lines up to the point where the home lines connect with the city sewer system at the street.
The video inspection will look for clogs, excess sludge build-up in the drain pipe, tree roots penetrating and damaging the pipes or broken connections. Should something need immediate attention, the report will let you know.
As part of the inspection, the plumber will also visually inspect the lines visible under or around the house, assessing their health.
The previous homeowner may have redone all pipes in the drainage system from the house, connecting new ABS pipes to the old cast iron main line. Notes like this may be relevant to ensure that the correct connections were used to prevent future problems where metals might create chemical reactions, corroding sooner than later. A future leak is a new homeowner’s problem.
The inspection might yield a recommendation for a sewer jetter service to merely clean things out or it might point out bigger issues where pipes need to be replaced under the house, under concrete slabs or deep underground around trees and landscaping.
Will the plumbing company look at slow drains or weak water pressure?
No. A typical video inspection is conducted outside of the house and looks at the main pipe lines to the city sewer line. It notes any trees either on your property or near the property that may pose a current or future problem with roots. It also notes stormwater drainage on the street; an issue where the city line might need attention could result in problems for new owners.
A homeowner isn’t responsible for city sewer lines or a storm drain, but all damage to the home resulting from a clog is a homeowner’s responsibility. Follow up with the city to see their plans for maintenance and repair.
If more comprehensive inspections inside the home are required, you can request this as an add-on for the inspection. This further inspects internal clog, drain and pressure issues. Essentially homeowners can look at all aspects of the plumbing system if concerns exist.
Make sure that realtors coordinate with homeowners to get access in the yard and inside the home for any inspection.
How expensive this extra inspection?
At Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air, we understand that costs add up when buying your home. This is why our professional video inspection services are affordable. Costs start at $250. With two technicians specializing in this service so you know you are getting an expert who does inspections every day and knows what to look for.
Average home prices in San Diego County exceed half a million dollars. That’s a lot of money and a huge investment. By contrast, spending an extra $250 to give you peace of mind that you don’t have $10,000 worth of plumbing issues on your plate a few months after buying is worth every penny.
What if the inspector doesn’t recommend further inspection?
Buying a home is a huge investment, but additional inspections are discretionary. Use your own best judgment and talk to your realtor. A good realtor wants you to have as much due diligence information before being stuck with a huge investment, commitment, and financial woes. Good realtors want you to know about a potential problem.
Look around the property. Check streets and neighboring yards for large trees that might have invasive roots. While maple and beech trees are pretty safe for sewer lines, large oak, eucalyptus, and rubber trees are problematic. These are common trees in neighborhoods surrounding Balboa Park.
Walk through the house and flush toilets, run faucets and watch the speed of drainage. Test the water temperature with your hand. You’ve lived using plumbing your whole life. Your common sense will help you know if there is a clog problem. Don’t stay inside the house. Walk around and test the sprinkler and outside faucets, too.
Ask questions. When was the last drain cleaning service performed? Is there a history of storm drain system problems on this property or in the neighborhood?
Finally, look around the yard for drainage system issues, flood control and any signs on the exterior that you can detect suggesting water damage.
What if they find a plumbing issue?
Of course, you want inspections to come back clean, with no issues. If a problem is noted, talk to your realtor about the next step.
If you are still in your inspection contingency period, you have the option to negotiate for the anticipated costs of repairs, lowering your purchase investment costs or to walk away from the deal. You can also ask that the homeowners fix the issue before the close of escrow. Most plumbing problems are not significant enough to walk away from the deal.
If the report notes that a drain cleaning service should come in for maintenance, you might get some buyers credits and then have the plumbing lines cleaned before moving in.
At Anderson Plumbing, Heating and Air, we recommend sewer jetter service every couple of years just for proper maintenance in most homes. Buying a home can be very stressful. We take stress away from our customers by giving them the right information about their plumbing system.
Call us to see how we can make you smile and schedule your Drain/Sewer Home Video Inspection today.
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