Old Home Plumbing Problems

3 Plumbing Problems When Buying An Old Home

You’re buying a new home, and you want everything to be just right. The plumbing, along with the electrical, is on the top of your list. The home is old, but to you, it’s brand new. You’re not just moving into a house, you’re moving into your home. You don’t want regrets. The last thing you want is a plumbing problem, and trust me, they can be covered up. You have an inspector, but an inspector isn’t a plumbing contractor.

Make Sure Your Sewer Line Is In Tip-Top Shape

Start from the top and do a complete video sewer line inspection. A camera inspection can reveal pipe damage, leaks, or tree roots that have invaded the sewer line. Once tree roots have invaded, they’ll keep coming back until a permanent solution gets completed. A camera inspection can give you a clear picture of the condition of your sewer line. You can also spot a sewer line leak when an isolated area of the front lawn is greener than the rest—another indicator puddling around the home with the smell of raw sewage. When you’re buying a home, especially an older home, make sure you go the extra mile to ensure the house is in perfect running order.

Know What Kind Of Sewer Line Is In The Home You Are Buying

Sewer lines inside older homes are prone to deterioration, significantly reducing the pipe’s life expectancy. Several of the most often installed sewer lines in older residences have included the following:

Clay Sewer Pipes

Homes that were built prior to the 1950s may have had clay sewer pipes. These sewer pipes last an average of 50 to 60 years, but they are, however, quite uncommon today.

Cast Iron

Cast Iron sewer pipes were popular with residential home builders during the 1950s thru the 1970s, and their lifespan is between 70 and 100 years.


Orangeburg sewer lines were in service for an extended length of time, from 1860 until 1972. Nevertheless, their duration is limited. After 30 years, they begin to distort and will certainly fail at 50 years or sooner.

Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC)

PVC saw great advancements from the 1950s to the 1960s, and by the 1970s, it was the go-to pipe for sewer lines.  Fortunately, if your 1950s-era home contains PVC sewer pipes, you won’t don’t have to worry about failure for some time. 

It’s important to know what type of sewer line is installed in the home you’re about to purchase. Your camera inspection will give you a clear picture of the type of sewer line. 

Clogged sewer line from old plumbing system

Determine How Old Your Water Heater Is

Water heaters typically have a lifespan of 10- 12 years. To have a good idea of the condition of your water heater:

  1. Make sure you do a reasonable inspection. You can start by checking the water pressure relief valve to ensure hot water comes out of the overflow pipe correctly.
  2. Check for rust around the storage tank.
  3. Put a bucket under the water spigot on your water heater and drain some of the water into the bucket. This will allow you to check for sediment built up in your tank.
  4. Determine how old your water heater is by decoding the date on the label. If your water heater is old and ready to be replaced, you can use it as part of the negotiations.
How Old Is Your Water Heater

Old Homes Have Old plumbing

In addition to the water heater and sewer line, have water supply pipes thoroughly checked. Ask your inspector or plumber to identify the types of pipes you have in the home. For example, in some old houses, galvanized pipes were the go-to pipe for construction. However, in the 60s, copper replaced galvanized steel pipes in home construction. That would mean any galvanized pipes still in homes today would be sixty years or older and would need replacing soon. 

Old House Plumbing Issues - Rusted Galvanized Pipes

What Type Of Water Supply Pipes Were Installed ?

You must know the type of pipes got installed in the home you are purchasing. Having this knowledge can assist you in determining their existing life span. The home’s piping has a life span between 20 and 100 years, depending on the kind of pipes installed. Water supply pipes are either made of copper, brass, or galvanized steel. Water supply pipes are subjected to considerable pressure and are therefore prone to rupture, leak, causing water damage in your home. Brass supply pipes normally have a life expectancy of 40 to 70 years, galvanized steel pipes have will last 20 to 50 years, and copper pipes at least 50 years.

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