The Big 5 –Plumbing and Heating tips for homebuyers

Whether you are buying or selling real estate the focus tends to be on presentation. It is no different with plumbing and heating. You don’t have to be an expert to note a few key indicators of quality.

For the Buyer:

As a buyer, looking at a beautifully presented house will help you like it, but won’t tell you if it is well made. Here is a list of 5 things to look for when you are shopping that can indicate, from a plumbing and heating point of view, exactly what you are looking at:

  1. Quality of fixtures – Do they look cheap? Are they discount brands? Do they feel solid? Do they operate smoothly?
  2. Look under sinks and along tubs – Under the sink, is the plumbing neat? Do the water lines come out of the wall under the sink (not stretched across the inside of the cabinet) Are holes of reasonable size in relation to the pipes running through them? Is the caulking done with care and attention? Often if the job was rushed or sloppy it will show up here.
  3. Age of heating system – Ask the age. If the furnace is prior to 2009 check the efficiency.  Mid–efficient furnaces (80%) were common in this era and are being phased out. They are not allowed to be installed any more as of 2009. Often it will seem as though the system is “newer” but it won’t be highly efficient. Installations from 2010 onwards should be in the 95% efficiency range.
  4. Look at the basement floor for obvious water leaks, or streaking from previous leaks. Ask for an explanation.
  5. Look for white powder on top of the hot water tank. That can indicate it hasn’t been venting properly, and will need service or repair.

In addition to those, you should check how the house is heated. Many houses, especially those that have been renovated, end up with a combination of gas fireplace, electric and conventional furnace or boiler. This won’t indicate a problem, but will limit how efficient you will be able to get on home heating.

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