They say hindsight is 20/20, and I have new knowledge to share that would have been good to know when doing a plumbing inspection.
Recently we purchased a 12 unit apartment building in FL. Our due diligence checked all the boxes, except for one; a thorough plumbing inspection.
When I spoke with our plumbing inspector, he provided two options;
- Do a complete inspection including all lateral waste lines.
- Inspect the waste line stacks from the roof to the street.
For those who have not had a plumber scope your lines, it is comparable to a colonoscopy for your building. The plumber puts a camera through the pipes to see what’s inside.
Given my experience, as a property owner, investor and as an insurance broker, I felt confident that the waste line stack inspection was appropriate. On a couple of properties we own, we have had to replace the waste line from the structure to the street, as well as water mains due to tree roots growing into the waste lines, and growing roots pressing against the main until it broke the line.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have selected the complete plumbing inspection including the all the lateral waste lines. But then, I would not have had the opportunity to meet Ann McClellan with Roman Plumbing of Central Florida, who I highly recommend if you are in Central Florida and have an old building with older plumbing.
What I have learned about a plumbing inspection
Old buildings have old plumbing. If you are considering buying or currently own a building that is older than thirty years, you have some potential repairs in your near future.
The easiest way to test the plumbing and see if there is a problem. Turn on all the fixtures to see how the drains handle the water. You will learn a lot. If all the water disappears down the drain, you are in great shape. If not, well, you will have to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it.
Additional things to know when doing a plumbing inspection.
The water main supplying water to the property from the city is an underground pipe until it gets inside the building. From the building to the street, it is difficult to recognize a problem until you get your bill. If all fixtures are turned off, and you observe the water meter moving, you have a leak. Also, if the bill is abnormally high, you likely have a leak and need to replace or repair the line.
Inside the building, broken supply lines will give themselves away when they leak. Look for wetness, staining, and sounds of running water for clues for where the leak is.
The biggest danger is if no one is around when a pipe breaks. Water that runs for a long time can cause damage throughout the property.
The main stack from the roof to the street is made from some of the most durable material, cast iron. Failure in these is usually detected when the drain backs up. Standing water can cause older pipes to rust, which opens the pipe to outside elements, roots, etc.
Lateral waste lines, when under cabinets, can be easily identified. Once they go behind the wall, problems are not as easy to recognize. In a block building where corroded pipes leak, it will fester and cause unwanted odors.
Regular wear out items
Hot water heater
The average life expectancy is 7 – 10 years. If yours is older, you are on borrowed time. If you see any rust, or leaking on the ground, you will need to replace.
Faucets, dishwashers, garbage disposals, all wear out and need to be inspected regularly. Faucets need to regularly have the washers or cartridges replaced. Be sure to look for drips under the sink in the cabinets in addition to in the sink or tub.
Toilets that run continuously are probably in need of a new flapper. If you find water on the floor, or the floor around the toilet is soft, check the supply line fitting.
A wobbly toilet is a sign the bolts holding the toilet to the flange need to be tightened or replaced. When replacing any bathroom flooring, always replace the wax ring and the bolts.
For more contact:
Roman Plumbing of Central Florida
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