More Blogs about Plumbing:

  1. So the water heater is older...what’s the big deal?

  2. Why is my water heater making strange (rumbling, gurgling, knocking or banging) noises?

  3. What can I do to make my water heater last longer?

  4. How much does it cost to replace the water heater?

  5. What are the pipes on my roof?

  6. Should I upgrade to a tankless water heater?

  7. How much does it cost to replace the plumbing in a house?

  8. How old is that water heater?

  9. Why is spray foam used for attic insulation?

  10. How do I get rid of the sewer gas smell in my house?

  11. What causes low water pressure in a house?

  12. What’s the powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?

  13. Do you check the plumbing under the floor slab?

  14. What is a “cross connection” in a home’s plumbing system?

  15. What’s the flip-up handle on the water heater for?

  16. What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe?

  17. My well water test came back positive for bacteria. What should I do?

  18. Do you test the well water?

  19. How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

  20. What is the difference between a regular water heater and a power vent water heater?

  21. How can I determine the age of a water heater if the serial number is missing or decoding it is impossible?

  22. What is a saddle valve?

  23. How do you test a shower pan for leaks?

  24. What is a grinder pump?

  25. What is that little tank on top of the water heater for?

  26. What is that pipe sticking out of the ground in the yard?

  27. What are the minimum clearances around a toilet?

  28. What is the average lifespan of a water heater?

  29. What are the most common plumbing problems with older houses?

  30. Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

  31. What is a dielectric union?

  32. What is a heat pump water heater?

  33. What are the common problems to look for when the plumbing has been replaced in a house?

  34. What is the average life expectancy of copper pipe?

  35. Why can’t PVC pipe be used for water pipe inside a house?

  36. What is an auto vent, air admittance valve, or check vent?

  37. Why is a European-style bottle trap not approved by the plumbing codes in the U.S.?

  38. What is an escutcheon plate?

  39. Why is sunlight exposure bad for PVC pipe?

  40. Is the hot water faucet handle required to be on the left?

  41. How can I locate my septic tank?

  42. What is a sediment trap or dirt leg?

  43. My spa tub stopped working. What’s wrong?

  44. Which plumbing fixtures require water shut off valves in a home?

How to Look

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Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

    If the problem is throughout the house, try these points:

  1. Does your home have a whole-house home filter? A clogged filter will gradually reduce water flow to almost nothing. The casing for these filters is often clear, so you can see how much gunk  is in it. If the interior has a green tint, like in the photo below, that means there is a fungal growth in the bits of organic debris trapped in the filter.

       Look for the filter at the well head or near a pressure tank. For filters with an opaque casing, it’s a good idea to keep track of the date you change the filter each time and switch it out on a regular schedule.
  2. Homes built in the mid-20th century that have galvanized steel water supply piping still in service get an accumulation of rust flakes behind fixture shut-off valves, caused by interior corrosion of the piping. For some reason, the corrosion often progresses faster in the hot water pipes, so hot water flow may be worse than the cold. The photo below shows a galvanized steel pipe that was cut off just behind the faucet valve for a washing machine.
       Replacement of the galvanized pipes is the only solution this plumbing version of arteriosclerosis. Since they will begin springing leaks as the corrosion advances further, prompt action is prudent. To learn more about aging galvanized steel pipes, visit our blog “This home has galvanized steel water pipe. Is that a problem?”
  3. A main shut-off valve may be partially closed or bad, and restricting water flow to the house. There are several places where you can find a main valve to check for this problem. If you have a municipal water system, check the water meter in the ground near the street. There is also sometimes a valve in the ground near the front wall of the home, usually below a hose faucet. In some condominiums the main water shut-off is behind or above the water heater, and it may (or may not) be marked as a main water shut-off.
       For homes served by a well, check for a valve at the well head, near any well equipment; often in the garage or in the ground near an exterior wall of the home—again, usually below a hose faucet. Mobile homes have a shut-off valve in the crawl space just behind the skirting, and the location is marked with a small lettering on the base of the exterior wall. To learn more about main water shut-off valves, read our blog “How do I shut off the water in an emergency?”

  4. A pipe leak under the floor or in the ground at the pipe from the street to the house (service pipe) can also cause low water pressure. But if it is leaking enough to reduce the pressure in your home, there would likely be visible evidence of the leakage as water bubbling up above ground, puddling around the perimeter of the home, or a wet area in a concrete floor slab.

   If you are pretty sure that your issue is really water pressure, then buy or borrow a pressure gauge with a fitting to attach to a hose faucet outside or at the washing machine. Normal water pressure for a municipal system in our area is typically around 60 to 70 psi, and private wells are usually set at 40 to 50 psi.

   Low pressure can be a system-wide problem for a municipal water system, hopefully for a brief period. It can also be caused by a malfunctioning pressure regulator (a bell-shaped device rarely seen in our area) or undersized piping. Both of these defects are best evaluated and repaired by a professional plumber; however, one indicator of undersize piping is an abrupt drop in water flow at a bathroom when more than one fixture is used at the same time.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.


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