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How to Look

at a House

A blog with answers
to your questions about

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 are the pipes on my roof?

  4. What is the purpose of a thermostatic mixing valve above a water heater?

  5. Should I upgrade to a tankless water heater?

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

  7. How old is that water heater?

  8. Why is spray foam used for attic insulation?

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

  10. What causes low water pressure in a house?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  20. What is a saddle valve?

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

  22. What is a grinder pump?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  29. What is a dielectric union?

  30. What is a heat pump water heater?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  37. What is the average life expectancy of CPVC pipe?

  38. What is an FVIR water heater?

  39. What is difference between a single element and dual element electric water heater?

  40. What are the requirements for installing a gas appliance connector?

  41. What is an escutcheon plate?

  42. Why is sunlight exposure bad for PVC pipe?

  43. What is the loose wire sticking out of the ground under the gas meter for?

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

  45. Why is a backflow preventer required on lawn sprinkler systems?

  46. What do the ABS, PVC, CPVC, PB, and PEX plumbing pipe names mean?

  47. What are the right words for talking about a house plumbing system?

  48. How do you find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

  49. Why is there water in my water heater drain pan?

  50. What is a sediment trap or dirt leg?

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

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.

  1. 3)If a waste drain pipe has fractured under the the concrete floor of your home, that can also allow sewer gas to rise up through cracks in the floor slab. it may not be as easy to this one track down though, until sufficient wetness permeates the floor slab.

  2. 4)Sometimes the cause is the trap of a plumbing fixture that has been abandoned, such as an old washing machine drain, or a fixture that was roughed-in but never installed, like piping for a future laundry sink that never happened—but in the meantime the taped-over end of the drain pipe protruding from the wall has come loose.

  3. 5)Or the smell may not be sewer gas. If the stink happens after you have opened a hot water faucet, it could be due to anaerobic bacteria in a water heater that has not been used for a while (such as while your were away on vacation). They feed on the minerals in the the tank and cause a rotten-egg odor that is not exactly the same as sewer gas, but equally annoying. Letting a hot water faucet run until the tank has been flushed out will usually fix the problem. As long as you continue to use hot water on a regular basis, the smell will not reappear.

   While that’s everything on our list of possibilities, we also consulted our plumber James Freeman, of J.W. Freeman Plumbing, in Gainesville, and he added a few more suggestions:

  1. 6)A bad auto vent (also called a mechanical vent) under a sink could be the problem. It is essentially a diaphragm that is constructed to open when a drain is trying to suck in air to keep a neutral air pressure needed to allow the drains to flow freely. It closes after admitting the necessary air, but when the diaphragm membrane ruptures it allows a two-way flow of air and sewer gas can escape.

  2. 7)A bad waste arm (the pipe behind the trap that connects the drain to the waste stack pipe in the wall) can also leak sewer gas into the wall cavity.

  3. 8)And, last, the flexible corrugated pipes that are used by some handymen and do-it-yourselfers as a tailpiece under a sink can be the culprit. Although they don’t allow sewer gas to come up through the drain, they can create a similar problem. “Sometimes funky-smelling stuff can develop in the ribs,” according to James. “Because it’s before the trap, it can push smelly air into the room when you run the water.”

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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