Home Inspector - Plumbing Water Flow
home inspection tech talk

PLUMBING PIPES

During a home inspection, home inspectors will determine the type and condition of water distribution pipes; these pipes are typically constructed of copper, brass, or galvanized steel. Copper is the most desired material, brass second, and galvanized steel the least desired.

Copper Pipes

Copper is a very desirable material for water supply piping and is long-lasting and generally trouble free in operation.

Brass Pipes

The life of brass piping is dependent upon the mineral content of the water. The content in some water will cause white mineral deposits on the brass pipes which are actually pinhole leaks; this is an indication that the pipes are deteriorating and may need replacement in the future. During the home inspection, the home inspector will determine if there is any deterioration on the brass pipes.

How Do You Get Three Lanes Of Traffic Into Two Lanes?

Galvanized steel pipes corrode on the inside creating a constricted flow of water, it is like trying to force three lanes of traffic into two lanes, or in severe cases, it is like trying to force three lanes of traffic into one lane. When galvanized steel pipes are in poor condition, it is not a good idea to utilize more than one fixture at any given time, especially when a person is taking a shower. In such cases, a dishwasher, or laundry machine should not be utilized, or a toilet fixture should not be flushed, when the shower is being used, because the shower, without any notice, will become scalding hot or ice cold. During the home inspection, the home inspector will determine if there is any deterioration on the galvanized steel pipes.

We recall one investigation in a very old college dormitory where the students would get scalded in the shower when the toilet was flushed by another student, and until the old steel pipes were replaced, the solution was to post a sign telling students to call out "FLUSH" so that the student in the shower would know to stand back. Replacement of the water distribution pipes in a home is very expensive; therefore, the smart buyer should know what type of material the water distribution pipes are constructed of prior to purchase (your home inspector should advise you of such conditions).

Another area of concern is the water supply pipe entering a home. Again, copper is the most desirable material. If the home is served by a galvanized steel water supply pipe, this will cause a problem similar to that mentioned above with the steel water distribution piping system (your home inspector should advise you of such conditions).


Lead Pipes

During the home inspection, the home inspector should advise you if the building is served by a lead water supply pipe, if so, excessive amounts of lead may be leaching into the water system and this is a potential health hazard. It is not feasible to treat all of the water entering the home, however, it is possible to treat the potable water supply which is typically in the kitchen. The best solution would be replacement of the lead water service pipe; however, this typically costs thousands of dollars.

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