Tips to Check Bathroom Plumbing in Home Inspection

Tips to Check Bathroom Plumbing in Home Inspection

Bathroom plumbing gets a lot of wear and tear, and it is the most likely place in the house for leaks to develop. That’s why bathroom plumbing is one of the most scrutinized items on every home inspector’s checklist. Moreover, much of the plumbing in the bathroom, particularly for the shower and bathtub, is inaccessible, so if and when leaks occur, they can go unnoticed for a long time and it can result in unwanted moisture damaging wood and/or attracting infestations of wood-destroying organisms.

During my home Inspection services, I inspect bathroom plumbing methodically, deliberately, and thoroughly because of this significance and these ramifications. I have completed proper training, been the recipient of invaluable mentorship, and picked up some plumber secrets along the way. Allow me to share my approach to inspecting a bathroom and all of its varied plumbing.

First of all, not everything is leak related. I feel it is important for my clients to know how well the overall plumbing system works. For instance, I measure the static water pressure, admittedly of marginal use when a hose bibb, attached before pressure is reduced through a regulator, has the only threaded faucet, but I also subjectively assess pressure and flow behavior when many fixtures are opened in the highest removed bathroom from the water source which gives me a good sense of capacity.

Analogously, I perform a simultaneous multiple-fixture drain test, seeing if I can detect strain or backflow pressure in the vent system when all bathroom fixtures are emptying at the same time. And a key aspect of my checklist during home inspection services, in addition to a careful look for visible signs of condensation, standing water, or heavy moisture, is a test for adequate ventilation, for otherwise there may be moisture problems that I can’t see behind walls or under the floor.

Then I turn my attention to individual fixtures. I look around sinks for proper caulking and under them to ensure that plumbing traps are the ‘P’ type and not double-vented. I look for evidence of both present and past leaks i.e. heavy moisture, stains, corrosion, microbial growth, etc. I use my moisture meter to measure moisture content in wooden cabinets and sub-flooring, both under sinks and around toilets.

I also examine intake lines, shutoff valves, and pipe protrusions through walls for signs of leaks, caulking, and condition. I get suspicious if some toilet floor bolts are missing or the toilet doesn’t seem firmly anchored. For tubs and showers, I look at caulking and safety issues e.g. sound grab bars and tempered glass. I test all faucets for operability, leaking, hot and cold reversed and cross connections. I also check for leaking, loose or missing faucet parts.

As mentioned above, leaks can occur in hidden places like behind walls and under floors. I don’t do invasive testing, so there may be conditions that I can’t detect. But leaks usually work their way out eventually, sometimes traveling along joists or the like first. Whenever possible during home inspection services, I look at ceilings or sub-flooring in rooms below each bathroom for stains and other evidence of leaks.


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