Moving into a new home can be an exciting time as you and your family adjust to your new lifestyle. Each day brings new discoveries, but faulty plumbing shouldn't be one of them. Doing your homework before you buy that steal-of-a-deal home helps you avoid unpleasant plumbing surprises in the future.

Bathrooms & Kitchens

Don't be swayed by those gorgeous tiles or the cute little window you've always wanted. Take the time to check for signs of plumbing problems in your bathroom before you say I do to the realtor.


  • Flush the toilet and observe how quickly it flushes. Healthy toilets whisk away water with a forceful swirl and empty within 10 to 15 seconds.
  • Check how long it takes the tank to refill. Your toilet tank should refill within 45 to 90 seconds, depending on the toilet, says Cesco Brass. If your toilet takes longer than this to refill, you may be dealing with clogged inlet valves.
  • Look for moisture around the base of the toilet. Loose, curled or wet tiles may signal a leak around the base of the toilet.

Tubs, Showers & Sinks

  • Press the tiles in the shower stall. If they give under light pressure or feel loose, there may be water damage behind the tiles.
  • Examine the rim of the tub and any areas where two surfaces meet for any signs of mold or mildew.
  • Look for areas where the caulking is missing or damaged as this may allow water to seep behind the tiles or under the tub.
  • Check under the sink with a flashlight and look for any signs of water damage, like residue along the seams or pipes or water stains or mildew on walls or tiles. Check both the pipes and the cabinets.
  • Turn on both the hot and cold water to determine if there is adequate flow.
  • Watch the water as it drains. Slow or sluggish drains may indicate a problem.


  • Stand straddling the toilet and rock back and forth. If the floor feels soft or spongy, there is probably water damage under the tiles.
  • Repeat the procedure around the tub, in front of the sink and anywhere you suspect water damage.

Do a Whole House Visual Inspection

It may be tempting to limit your attention to the bathroom and kitchen, but plumbing problems can happen anywhere. A visual inspection of the home may reveal telltale signs of water damage or leaks.

  • Follow the pipes, looking for discoloration or other signs of leaks.
  • Check the basement walls and floor for moisture. Unless you are experiencing spring runoff or heavy rains, moisture seeping in through the basement walls may indicate a broken sewer pipe outside the home.
  • Look for water stains or unexplained moisture throughout the home.

Head Outside

Sometimes, clues to plumbing problems can only be seen from the outside. Walk around the home, keeping your eyes open for any unexplained water.

  • Sink Holes

Depressions in the lawn or yard that appear wet may be a signal that an underground pipe has broken. Unless there is another plausible explanation for the sinkhole in your yard, take it as a warning sign to investigate further.

  • Heavy Vegetation

Areas of lush, green grass may seem like a sign of rich soil, but when you spy an area that is greener and lusher than the surrounding area, beware! This may be an indication that your sewer pipes have broken and wastewater is escaping into the soil.

If you observe signs of possible problems call in the plumber for a professional evaluation and plumbing repairs. Heading off potential problems now will likely save you from encountering unpleasant surprises while you and your family adjust to life in a new home.