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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

A Homebuyer's Guide to Common Plumbing and Electrical Problems

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 26 July 2017 10:52

Buying a new home is a somewhat complicated task. Everything ranging from the financial to the legal side has to be covered in great detail in order to avoid some very inconvenient problems in the future. Since the emphasis is on the neighborhood, the size of the backyard, exterior and interior of the house, some hard to see problems can very easily slip under the radar.

When I say hard-to-see problems, I refer to the common plumbing and electrical problems that can cause a lot of damage to the household and make a huge hole in your budget. When buying a new home, you have to be able to turn into a detective, and here is the information that will help you keep your eyes open for common plumbing and electrical problems.

Common Plumbing Problems
According to the many homeowners, loose water is the worst enemy since it has the ability to not only damage surfaces but also cause problems to the very foundation of the house. Experts with experience in providing plumbing and electrical service  advice to future homeowners to learn how to identify the clues of possible plumbing problems. Here is what they say to pay extra attention to when you are outside of the house:

• Check if the composition shingles are still holding.

• Examine the foundation all around the house to see if there is water pooling near or under it.

• See if the roof is not worn-out by the elements.

• If there are tiles outside, make sure to check if there are any broken ones.

When it comes to what to pay attention to while inside the house, here are some clues for you:

• Water means mold and rot, so make sure to check kitchen(s), bathroom(s) and basement for specific odor.

• Make sure to check all the sinks and look for the rust.

• And don’t forget to check all ceilings and walls inside the house for brown stains.

• While in the bathroom, make sure to check for any discoloration or warping around the base of the toilet and the floor around its base.

• Another common problem to look for that is connected with the bathroom is the water heater. Make sure to check how old the water heater is, because the average lifetime of these is approximately 10 years. Make sure that it was properly maintained as these “little” things can cause serious property damage.

• Since some homeowners like to practice DIY activities, there is a high chance that something similar has been done in the house you are looking to buy. Make sure to check wherever you see plumbing, if there are no loused-up pipe connections.

Plumbing DIY jobs have a tendency to go wrong, so if you plan on performing something similar, please don’t. You will probably make things even worse .

When we talk about plumbing problems, there are only two of them: it is either a loose (leaking) water or clogged drainage and sewer system. In both cases they are bad. As we said, loose water can cause serious damage to the house.

Common Electrical Problems
Electrical problems in homes are also a pretty common occurrence and they should not be taken lightly. Poor installations or problems with the water heater leaking directly into the electrical installation may cause serious problems. Here are some of the most common electrical issues that every homebuyer should know:

• Old wiring. All cables have an insulation, but it has the tendency to wear down over time. Whether it was a consequence of some animal activity, the elements or poor choice of materials when it was installed, old wiring is very common.

One of the frequent consequences of old wiring is a fire starting in the wall. So, if a seller cannot provide a document to prove that the installation is new, it is better to have a professional look at it than to leave it to chance.

• Just as in Plumbing Problems, DIY is also the main cause of the problems here. If the previous homeowner had even one of his little DIY errands around the electrical system in the house you are looking at, you are exposed to certain risk. Again, have a professional inspect the residential electrical wiring before you move in.

• Weak power is a very common problem in old houses. If you have just found one of those and you like the old style and architecture, make sure that the house meets your electrical needs.

Old houses were simply not built to support the amount of electrical power we need today. Please have it inspected before you make your final decision. Tuning or replacing an entire home’s electrical system can potentially cost you a lot.

• Dead outlets. We all have those. Fortunately, you are a buyer now and you can request from a seller to make sure all the outlets are working properly. At least by the time you move in. These are pretty common in older houses with more than one electrical panel. Ask the seller to have it fixed or subtract the amount of money needed for fixing the problem from the price put on the household.

• At last, one of my least favorite ones, flickering bulbs. While people generally don’t think of it as a big issue, trust me, it is. Flickering bulbs are the result of a bad connection. However, you are not an expert and you can’t determine where. The only thing you will be able to determine, if you don’t get it fixed, is the amount spent on changing the light bulbs.

As you can see, there are a lot of possible electrical and plumbing issues that might cause you problems in a short or long run. This is why it is important to check for them when you are looking to buy a new house.

If you don’t feel confident enough or lack the general knowledge on this subject, I’ve left you with an option to bring on someone from the plumbing and electrical service industry to help you check your future household for common problems.

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