01 July A couple talking to a real estate agent

11 Plumbing Questions to Ask Before Buying a Home in Hamilton

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Buying a new home is an exciting life milestone. But imagine moving in only to find that kitchen faucets aren’t working, pipes are clogged, or the basement is prone to flooding. Excitement can quickly turn into worry over surprise repair costs. This is why it’s important to get to know a house thoroughly, even commonly overlooked aspects, such as pipes, plumbing fixtures, and sewage.

If you’re looking through homes for sale in Hamilton, here are vital questions that you need to ask about plumbing so that you can make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. 

Let’s begin!

The keys to a new home on a doorknob with a house keychain

Key Questions About Pipes, Drains, and Sewage

1. What Kind of Pipes Does The House Have and When Were They Installed?

All pipes have an average lifespan in which they can function well with minimal chances of blockages, leaks, and bursts. Ask your realtor for detailed information about the type of pipes used within the property and the year of installation. 

Refer to this table to get an idea of typical pipe lifespans.

Type of PipeAverage Life Span
Plastic PipesIndefinite
Brass Pipes80-100 years
Copper Pipes70-80 years

There are pipes, however, that need immediate replacement because they are either dangerous or prone to failure. These include:

Type of PipeReasons to Replace Immediately
Kitec PipesRecalled 10 years after they were introduced, Kitec pipes are highly prone to bursting due to corrosion or intolerance to hot water. For more information, check out our guide on Why You Should Replace Kitec Plumbing.
Lead PipesLead is a proven toxin that can potentially cause lead poisoning when dissolved into drinking water.
Galvanized Steel PipesGalvanized steel pipes are prone to corrosion and can release poisonous lead into the water. The buildup of rust can also obstruct these pipes.
Polybutylene PipesPolybutylene pipes are prone to reacting with chlorine, causing brittleness that results in pipe leaks, bursts, or even debris in the water.

2. What Are The Sizes of The Pipes?

As you look through homes for sale Hamilton, remember that narrow pipes can give you inconveniently low water pressure. The ideal pipe sizes for a home should be the following:

  • 1-inch diameter for the main pipeline from the street towards the house
  • ¾ inch diameter for supply branches in the house
  • At least ½ inch diameter for pipes leading to individual components in the house

3. Is There A Water Softener Installed?

Apart from the type and age of the property’s pipes, another factor that affects Hamilton plumbing, in the long run, is the presence of hard water. According to the Hamilton City Council, the area’s water supply is classified as “moderately hard,” with a total hardness of 40g/m3 as CaCO3.

Having a water softener is a plus because this will help your pipes stay clear and free of solid buildups due to the mineral deposits. For a deeper dive into hard water and what it means for your family, check out our Hard Water vs. Soft Water article. 

4. What Are The Nearby Trees?

Trees, albeit beautiful, have roots that can easily work their way into your water and sewer lines. Some examples that are notorious for tree root damage to Hamilton plumbing are:

  • Willow
  • Elm
  • Oak
  • Mulberry
  • Honey Locust
  • Aspen
  • Elm
  • Silver Maple
  • Poplar  

5. Are The Pipes Winterized?

Having insulated pipes means that they have been prepped to efficiently retain the heat from the home’s water supply during the winter season. Considering that pipe freezing is one of the most common Hamilton plumbing issues out there, it’s a real bonus if you find this upgrade as you look through homes for sale Hamilton.

Frozen drain pipe

6. Which Pipes Are Prone To Freezing?

During winter, sub-zero temperatures in all areas of Hamilton are to be expected. This means that exterior pipes and those installed in uninsulated areas are likely to freeze at some point. Ask if there are other pipes inside the home that are prone to freezing. Bear in mind that pipes under the walls can be particularly challenging to thaw and would likely need professional intervention so that it does not burst and cause water damage.

There is a lot more that can be said about frozen pipes and how to be ready for them. We recommend reading The Homeowner’s Ultimate Guide to Frozen Pipes, a handy resource if you do not want to be caught unprepared for any winter plumbing mishap.      

7. When Was The Last Professional Drains And Sewer Cleaning Done?

It is recommended that houses have professional drain cleaning at least once every 2 years. This keeps stubborn blockages from forming while also helping to keep away sewer gnats or drain worms. Likewise, it is also encouraged for sewer lines to be professionally cleaned and inspected every couple of years. Note that sewer lines from very old houses may need to be replaced immediately. Make sure to have these inspected when checking out homes for sale Hamilton.

8. Are All Plumbing Fixtures Functional?

Check if all faucets and showerheads are functional. You may also want to have the toilet flush tested to see if the water is constantly running. A running toilet or leaking bathroom will cause sudden spikes in your water bills until you get it fixed. Furthermore, take a closer look for tell-tale signs that the toilet is already due for replacement, like wobbling and surface damage.

Closeup of a brand new toilet in a home for sale

Key Questions About The Sump Pump and Water Heater

9. Is There a Sump Pump? If Yes, How Old Is It?

A sump pump isn’t just for keeping basement floods away. It is also needed for homes with a high water table or moisture in the soil that can cause hydrostatic pressure on the foundation. A sump pump can, in fact, help preserve the structural integrity of your home. 

If the Hamilton property you’re eyeing does have a sump pump, ask your realtor about it, like its brand, type, how old it is, or if it went through regular sump pump maintenance. On average, the lifespan of a sump pump is 7 years.  If you’ve never heard about it before, please read Sump Pumps: What They Are and How They Work.

10. Is The Sump Pump Connected To The Sanitary Line?

When looking through homes for sale Hamilton, keep in mind that it is best for sump pumps to have a discharge line leading away from the house. Having the sump pump connected to the sanitary line can mean that the sewer will get overloaded quickly. 

11. How Old Is The Water Heater?

Water heaters have an average lifespan of 8-12 years. If your new home comes with an old water heater, consider the potential cost of having it replaced soon.  

Hamilton Plumbing Experts

Got any plumbing concerns regarding one of your prospective homes for sale Hamilton? Our dedicated plumbing experts are always ready to help and answer your questions. 

Contact PlumbWize today!

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