Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Restoration of a Queen-Choosing the Queen You Wish To Serve-Part III

Plumbing comes next.  The reason I address plumbing after electrical is that if there is no heat source, you can't keep your pipes warm and the result can be burst pipes due to freezing.


If the water is on in the house, check pressure, look under the cabinets and see if there is evidence of active leaking, standing water, mildew, etc.  Inspect the handles and faucet to see if there is leaking when turned on.  Fill a sink and flush a toilet and see if the water runs out in a reasonable manner.  If slow, there may be problems in the sewer or septic line or the plumbing vent may be stopped up or missing entirely.

Take note of the type of water lines you see-whether they are plastic, galvanized, etc.  Galvanized pipe coming in as the main water line is pretty common in old houses and is probably very old.   Over time, deposits of lime, calcium and other minerals accumulate in the pipe and narrow the opening for water to flow through and can be the cause of insufficient water pressure.

One thing I like to check is number and location of outdoor spigots.  In older houses where fire can spread quickly due to the some of the construction methods used at the time, having water nearby is always one of my concerns.

Find out whether the house is on city sewer or has a septic tank.  The agent should be able to tell you or you can generally find this in the property records at the courthouse.  In our state, this information is available on-line.  Without doing a lot of digging around in the yard, it will be hard to tell the type and condition of the sewer lines that run underground.  Testing the indoor plumbing can give you a little bit of a hint whether or not things are in order.  Keep in mind, old houses often have their old clay plumbing underground unless someone has encountered a problem in the past and had it replaced.

We were told by the previous owner that the sewer lines had been replaced with code-compliant plastic.  It wasn't until the day of the annual Teapot Historic Tour of Homes when the sewage backed up and ran out under the house that there was a problem.  Of all things, the dining room smelled like sewage and we had no idea where it was coming from.  After some investigation, I discovered the mess under the house and called a plumber.  Yeah, the line was PVC to about 5 feet into the yard, then it was the original clay pipe all the way to the street that was misaligned, broken, crushed and just plain missing in a couple of places.  Replacing septic lines is always an experience and not necessarily a fun one-but imagine all the gossip around town about our stinking dining room!  Small towns gotta have something to talk about.



Anyway, back to the subject at hand, just have a look around and see what can be seen regarding the plumbing.  Sometimes, the water company will turn on the water for a day or a few hours so you can test the plumbing.  It doesn't hurt to ask.

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