Checklist: Here’s What Your Plumber Will Do During Your Home Inspection

Dawn M. Smith
Written by Dawn M. Smith
Updated October 12, 2021
Plumber checking kitchen's plumbing
Kurha n – stock.adobe.com

Know exactly what your plumber is searching for during an inspection with this checklist

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Can you be too cautious when buying a house? With a large amount of money on the line, many homebuyers think not. That’s why they invest in a plumbing inspection—to ensure hidden problems are exposed, especially for older homes with potentially worn parts and plumbing that’s no longer up to code.   

No house is the same, so it's hard to know what to expect from your plumbing inspection. Since you’re not a plumbing expert, it's a good idea to have a checklist to look over before the inspection. Here are the most common points on a plumbing inspection checklist.

Locate and Examine the Water Meter

Row of water meters on wall
Maksym Yemelyanov – stock.adobe.com

During an inspection, the plumber often starts by pointing out the water meter’s exact location and making sure it's in good condition. This is usually located outside or in a basement, so your plumber will look for any weather- or pest-related damage to the meter.

It’s important to know where your meter is located because it also houses the shut-off valve for the main water supply. This valve will turn off the water to your entire house, which can be necessary if you are doing major plumbing work, such as repairing a frozen pipe, or if you are leaving for an extended period of time.

Inspect the Pipes

Looking at the visible pipes in the house gives the plumber clues to any lurking problems and if you’ll need to make any changes after (or as part of the negotiations before) buying the home. They’ll look for:

  • The pipes’ diameter (to determine adequate water pressure)

  • The presence of lead pipes 

  • Sources of leaks (if leaks are found)

  • Whether the pipes are protected from freezing, like insulation

Look for Leaks

Even if you don’t see a dripping faucet, your plumber will still search for hidden leaks that if left untreated, could slowly ruin drywall, cabinets, or worse. Finding a slow leak could also save a lot of money in utility bills. Here are the features your plumber will check during an inspection:

  • Shower

  • Bathtub

  • Toilet

  • Sink

  • Dishwasher

  • Faucets

  • Crawl Space

  • Basement

The Condition of the Water Heater

Most of us take water heaters for granted—until there’s zero hot water for a shower. Your plumber will give you an overview of the water heater’s condition and tell you what to expect from the system’s short- and long-term lifespan. This part of the inspection is usually pretty thorough. They’ll check:

  • Age

  • Tank capacity

  • Emergency water and gas shut-offs

  • Drain, temperature, and release valves

  • Thermostat and temperature settings

  • Gas and electric water heater connections

  • Gas thermocouple

  • Flue pipe

Assess the Sewage System and Septic Tank

Some older neighborhoods have outdated municipal sewer systems and invasive tree roots that can cause trouble for your plumbing and septic system. Your plumber will take a closer look at both of these features and advise about:

  • Common sewage issues in the area

  • Sewer line replacement or repair costs, if needed

  • Outdated and broken clay tile or cast iron pipes

  • Shifting ground

  • The septic tank: its location, the condition of pipes leading to it, and dates of last services

  • Sewage drainage and odor

Identify Slab Leaks

Today, most construction companies build homes on concrete slabs, which are usually poured on top of the initial plumbing system. Over time, cracks, pressure, and corrosion can cause leaks and major damage if untreated. Your contractor will hunt for these signs that could indicate a slab leak:

  • Very low water pressure

  • Abnormally high water bills

  • Hearing running water without an obvious cause

  • Floor cracks

  • Mysterious water on the floor

  • Warm to the touch patches on the floor

  • Mold under carpets

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