When buying a new home, plumbing is a topic that often gets overlooked by the homebuyer. Most people think about places like the kitchen, the bathrooms, the bedrooms, and the yard, but they forget about what’s below the foundation.
If you’re buying a new home, there are two different kinds of plumbing tests that you should have performed on your prospective house.
The first is a hydrostatic test. This tests your potable water system, or the water line that runs from the city meter up to your house and under the foundation. This test is performed by putting a pressure gauge in your hose bib to ensure there are no dripping faucet issues in the home. We shut the water pressure down at the homeowner shutoff valve and analyze the pressure for leaks for a period of 30 minutes. This is an important test because slab leaks can cost you thousands of dollars in damage.
The next test is a static test. In the video above, I drew a diagram to illustrate how this test works. A static test blocks off the drain system inside the sewer line running to your home by using an inflated test ball to simulate a sewer stoppage. From that point, we fill the drain system leading to all the different rooms in your house to slab level. As with the hydrostatic test, we observe this test for 30 minutes. This test can save you anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 on drain repairs.
Homes in the Austin area, or those east of Interstate 35, tend to have an expansive foundation due to the amount of clay in the soil. If you have a sewer leak under your house, the more water that leaks out of the foundation, the more the clay in your soil will expand and give you problems.
Another thing to consider when inspecting the plumbing is the age of the home you’re buying. If it was built before the 1970s, you’re more than likely going to have a cast iron system, and those really only last about 50 years, depending on the soil type through which they were built.
Finally, if you’re having your house leveled, make sure you have a licensed plumber who specializes in testing plumbing systems come out after the foundation is leveled. A lot of foundation companies don’t tell you that your lifetime warranty depends on the static test holding. If you don’t have it fixed, you’re guaranteed to have foundation issues in the near future.
Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into when buying a new home. If you have any questions about these tests, please give us a call or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to help you!