Here’s a checklist that you can use to do your own pre-inspection on your plumbing. There’s no reason not to check your own house out yourself before you hire a certified home inspector.
This way you can compare notes and ask questions. He will give you a thorough report on the home’s condition. Between what you found and what the inspector found you will be able to take care of what needs to be done before you put your house on the market.
For now we’ll focus on plumbing, including bathrooms, the laundry area, and water and septic systems.
Look for signs of leaks in exposed pipes, including in areas where pipes run through the walls or foundation.
Look for signs of corrosion, which could indicate a problem with the water, or with the pipe itself. Are there green stains around brass and copper fittings and on shutoff valves? This is a sign of either corrosion or a reaction that occurs with mismatched metals. If this is left uncorrected, it will cause leaks and bad connections.
Check water pressure. Low pressure could mean a problem with the line or sediment buildup in the faucet aerator or shower head.
Check drains for speed of drainage. A slow drain may mean there’s a clog or a blocked vent pipe. Look for a full swirling drain. Bubbling drains are a sign of a problem.
Flush toilets to make sure they operate as they should. Open their tanks and look for worn or missing parts. Wait around for a few minutes to see if the toilet runs after a while. This is a sign of a slow leak.
If you have a gas water heater, look inside the burner chamber for rust flakes. Check the flame. It should be an even blue, with no yellow. A yellow flame indicates soot or a problem with the gas-air mixture. The jets may need cleaning.
You may need help for this next task. It’s a good idea to drain the water heater to remove sediment that has settled to the bottom. If you have an electric water heater, turn it off first or you’ll burn up the heating element.
Check for cracked tiles in the shower area or around sinks. Tap on tiles to find loose or hollow ones that could be masking rotted backerboard behind them.
Check on the state of the tub and shower caulking. Does it look nice (remember, appearances count too when selling your home)? Are there any places where the caulk is no longer tight with the walls or edge of the shower or tub? Is it time to replace it?
Look for evidence of mildew wherever water has a chance to stand for longer periods of time.
Check the toilet base to be sure it doesn’t rock. There could be a leak that has damaged the floor around it.
Look for cracks on the toilet tank or bowl and also on sinks
Slide shower doors to check for sticking or rust. Examine the gaskets around the door glass for any gaps or tears.
Turn on the shower and bath faucets to check for leaks around the handles and valves. Are they easy to use, or harder to turn on and off? Check any set screws you see.
Unscrew the shower head and look for collected sediment. This could be lowering the water pressure.
Examine vent fans for blockages or dust. If it sounds really loud when you turn them on, the bearings may be worn out or a flapper may have gotten stuck.
Check washing machine hoses for signs of cracks, brittleness, or leaks.
Check the dryer vents for tears. Vacuum or brush out lint in the hose and around the lint screen inside the dryer. Look for lint around the floor or on the wall, which indicates there’s a clog in the vent hose.
If you have your own well for water, send out a sample of your water to your county cooperative extension to test it for chemicals and bacteria.
Be sure that the well cover is tightly sealed but that there is still access to the pump.
Check the sump pump by pouring water on it to see if it turns on automatically.
Look around your septic tank/field for soggy ground or lush vegetation. This may mean the tank is full or failing.
Being familiar with your home inside and out will give you an advantage when dealing with your home inspector and prospective buyers.