Buying an Older Home? Watch for These 5 Common Plumbing Problems

Are you purchasing an old home?

If you are shopping the housing market in Vancouver, then you’ll be fully aware that buying an older home can be one of your only options when it comes to purchasing a single-family house in the area. 

Older homes can be brimming with character and charm, and can save you money on the initial sale price as well. But curb appeal doesn’t equal structural integrity, and the skeleton of your new-old house might be on the verge of falling apart, which includes your plumbing! 

Houses that are more than a few decades old can have a myriad of problems with their pipes and plumbing, and can result in some very costly repairs and replacements. For this reason, we highly recommend you consult a professional to do a walk-through of your home and assess any potential problems.

To help you, here are five common plumbing problems to look out for in older homes.

Old home plumbing problem #1: Old fixtures

All those funky old faucets and fixtures that seemed so charming when you purchased your home can turn into big problems sooner or later. Over time, corrosion and regular wear and tear on older fixtures and supply lines can lead to restricted flow, broken handles and knobs, and other annoyances that make simple water use in your home a headache. And if left long enough, these quirks can quickly turn into actual breaks.

Old home plumbing problem #2: Faulty repairs

With time comes experience and if your house is old enough, we’re willing to bet that it’s had its share of repairs, some of them good, some of them bad. If the past owners of your home were DIY handymen, the house may be filled with quirky and makeshift fixes – anything from backwards sink traps to an improperly installed boiler. 

Old home plumbing problem #3: Bellied pipes

Over time, pipes that have been installed under the house can shift and bend downwards due to the natural shifting of the structure, resulting in a negative slope. This bellying effect can cause waste and sediment to pool, leading to stoppages and leaks.

Old home plumbing problem #4: Outdated pipe materials

Any home built earlier than the 1990s can potentially contain piping materials that are no longer up to Building Codes in Canada. If the house has been significantly renovated in the last few decades, there’s a good chance that the pipes were replaced. But just in case, it’s always best to be sure. The three most common older pipe types to look out for in old homes are the following:

  • Polybutylene – popular in the 1980s and early 1990s, these pipes are prone to flaking and decomposition, and are no longer in use. If they exist in your home, they should be removed.
  • Lead – this is a toxic compound that can cause serious health problems. Although the use of lead piping was banned in Canada in 1975, older homes may still contain lead pipes in their structures. 
  • Galvanized – used in homes built pre-1960s, galvanized pipes are made from iron with a layer of zinc. Over time, the zinc corrodes, causing rusting and breakage.

Old home plumbing problem #5: Tree roots

If your home is surrounded by mature trees, as many are in Vancouver and other residential areas across BC, there is a good chance that the root spread may be heading into your underground pipe structure, if it isn’t there already. Roots can cause damage and leaks; however, a qualified professional can easily inspect your pipes for any likely breaches.

Our professionals at Ashton Service Group are here to help you inspect your older home. Give us a call today to set up an appointment and get started.