Plumbing Inspection & Types of Piping

by | Aug 8, 2022

A plumbing home inspection takes into account the water pipes in the structure as well as the waste pipe system that leaves the structure. 

Plumbing Inspection: Metal Pipes

The main factor that determines the types of pipes in your home is the era in which your home was built. Early construction used metal pipes once indoor plumbing was introduced. These pipes were durable, but they also have a service life that was not expected to outlive the lifespan of the house itself. At this point in time, if a house has metal waste pipes installed, they are already inside the timeline of their anticipated life expectancy. 

Metal plumbing pipes have a service life expectancy of 50 -80 years. At that range, the metal surfaces have been exposed to water and have been affected by rust and corrosion. The correct recommendation for potable water and household waste pipes of this material is to have them reviewed for replacement.

Plumbing Inspection: Copper Tubing & ABS

About 50 years ago, a change was made that replaced the galvanized steel potable water pipes. It was known that copper tubing could be used for potable water supply and the upside of copper is that it doesn’t rust, but the downside is the expense. Simultaneously, at the dawn of copper use for plumbing, the plastics market developed a product called ABS and it was approved for wastewater transport. ABS pipe and fittings are made from a thermoplastic resin called Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene. This material is impervious to common household chemicals, doesn’t rust, and is resistant to damages that may have been catastrophic to the more rigid cast iron pipes.

Plumbing Inspection: Plastic Pipes & PEX

In more modern construction, we have developed plastic pipe options that don’t have the short expected time frame that metal pipes offered. These plastic pipes are approved for potable water use and are priced more reasonably than metal pipes. Originally, PVC and CPVC pipes were starting to be used to replace metal pipes, but these pipes are brittle and susceptible to damage either by contact or by freezing. Needless to say, these materials for water pipes were not used for a long period of time before new, more flexible, water pipes were developed. These new water pipes are commonly known as PEX (Crosslinked Polyethylene). There are a few variations of PEX that have a few different characteristics, but at the end of the day, the piping in this category for residential applications will be reliable for years.

Plumbing Inspection: What We Look For

In the process of a plumbing inspection, the first thing an inspector is looking for is leaks. There are a couple of different methods of leak detection used. The most obvious is a visual inspection. The second method used is listening for echoes from a water leak hitting the surfaces below. The final leak review method is observing the water meter. If the house is vacant or if you know for sure there is currently no water running in the house, an inspector can review the water meter to see if any water is flowing past. 

Get a Plumbing Inspection with Octopus Home Inspections

At Octopus Home Inspections, we are committed to upholding a strong code of ethics, including professionalism and integrity. With a 5-star average on Google and over 160 reviews, you can be sure you’re in good hands. Our home inspections are extremely thorough, fairly priced, detailed, and accurate. We strive to be a home inspection company that you can trust completely, knowing we have your safety and wellbeing in mind. If you’re looking for a home inspector you can trust in Portland, Oregon, contact us here.

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