What is included in a plumbing inspection by a home inspector?

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Because a home inspection is primarily a visual examination of a property, most of the plumbing part of a home inspection involves looking at the components, noting the details of their type, size, and location, along with limited testing of a representative number of (not all) fixtures and faucets. 

    Although some inspectors use testing tools to further evaluate the plumbing components and go beyond the minimum standards in other ways, it is not required by the Standards of Practice of the two national home inspector associations, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), along with the State of Florida and other states that license home inspectors and set standards for their inspections.

    Here’s the plumbing portion of the InterNACHI Standards of Practice as an example:

3.6. Plumbing

I. The inspector shall inspect:

     A. the main water supply shut-off valve;
     B. the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
     C. the water heating equipment, including the energy source, venting connections, temperature/pressure-relief (TPR) valves, Watts 210 valves, and seismic bracing;
     D. interior water supply, including all fixtures and faucets, by running the water;
     E. all toilets for proper operation by flushing;
     F. all sinks, tubs and showers for functional drainage;
     G. the drain, waste and vent system; and
     H. drainage sump pumps with accessible floats.

II. The inspector shall describe:

     A. whether the water supply is public or private based upon observed evidence;
     B. the location of the main water supply shut-off valve;
     C. the location of the main fuel supply shut-off valve;
     D. the location of any observed fuel-storage system; and
     E. the capacity of the water heating equipment, if labeled.

III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

     A. deficiencies in the water supply by viewing the functional flow in two fixtures operated simultaneously;
     B. deficiencies in the installation of hot and cold water faucets;
     C. active plumbing water leaks that were observed during the inspection; and  
     D. toilets that were damaged, had loose connections to the floor, were leaking, or had tank components that did not operate.

IV. The inspector is not required to:

     A. light or ignite pilot flames.
     B. measure the capacity, temperature, age, life expectancy or adequacy of the water heater.
     C. inspect the interior of flues or chimneys, combustion air systems, water softener or filtering systems, well pumps or tanks, safety or shut-off valves, floor drains, lawn sprinkler systems, or fire sprinkler systems.
     D. determine the exact flow rate, volume, pressure, temperature or adequacy of the water supply.
     E. determine the water quality, potability or reliability of the water supply or source.
     F. open sealed plumbing access panels.
     G. inspect clothes washing machines or their connections.
     H. operate any valve.
     I. test shower pans, tub and shower surrounds or enclosures for leakage or for functional overflow protection.
     J. evaluate the compliance with conservation, energy or building standards, or the proper design or sizing of any water, waste or venting components, fixtures or piping.
     K. determine the effectiveness of anti-siphon, back-flow prevention or drain-stop devices.
     L. determine whether there are sufficient cleanouts for effective cleaning of drains.
     M. evaluate fuel storage tanks or supply systems.
     N. inspect wastewater treatment systems.
     O. inspect water treatment systems or water filters.
     P. inspect water storage tanks, pressure pumps, or bladder tanks.
     Q. evaluate wait time to obtain hot water at fixtures, or perform testing of any kind to water heater elements.
     R. evaluate or determine the adequacy of combustion air.
     S. test, operate, open or close: safety controls, manual stop valves, temperature/pressure-relief valves, control valves, or check valves.
     T. examine ancillary or auxiliary systems or components, such as, but not limited to, those related to solar water heating and hot water circulation.
     U. determine the existence or condition of polybutylene, polyethylene, or similar plastic piping.
     V. inspect or test for gas or fuel leaks, or indications thereof.

    Even if the exlusions listed above are not stated directly in the home inspector’s contract agreement, one of the Standards of Practice mentioned above will be referenced as part of the contract agreement. 

    Click on any of the links below to read other articles about what is required to be included, or not, in a home inspection:

AFCI •• Air conditioner •• Ants •• Appliance recalls •• Appliance testing •• Attic •• Awnings •• Barns and ag blgs. •• Bathroom exhaust fan •• Bonding •• Carpet •• Ceiling fans •• Central vacuum •• Chimneys •• Chinese drywall •• Clothes dryer •• Dryer exhaust •• CO alarms •• Code violations •• Condemn a house •• Crawl space •• Detached carport •• Detached garage •• Dishwasher •• Docks •• Doors •• Electrical •• Electrical panel •• Electromagnetic radiation •• Fences •• Fireplaces  Furnace •• Garage door opener •• Garbage disposal •• Generator •• GFCIs •• Gutters •• Ice maker •• Inspect in the rain •• Insulation •• Insurance •• Interior Finishes •• Grading & drainage •• Lead paint •• Level of thoroughness •• Lift carpet •• Low voltage wiring •• Microwave •• Mold •• Move things •• Help negotiate •• Not allowed •• Outbuildings •• Paint •• Permits •• Pilot lights •• Plumbing •• Plumbing under slab •• Pools •• Questions won't answer •• Radon •• Range/cooktop •• Receptacle outlet •• Refrigerator •• Reinspection •• Remove panel cover •• Repairs •• Repair estimates •• Retaining walls •• Roaches •• Rodents •• Roof •• Screens •• Seawalls •• Septic loading dye test •• Septic tank •• Sewer lines •• Shower pan leak test •• Shutters •• Sinkholes •• Smoke alarms •• Solar panels •• Specify repairs •• Sprinklers •• Termites •• Toilets •• Trees •• Troubleshooting •• Wall air conditioners •• Walk roof •• Washing machine •• Water heater •• Water pressure •• Water shut-offs •• Main water shut-off •• Water softener •• Water treatment systems •• Well •• Windows •• Window air conditioners •• Window blinds •• Wiring 

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about PLUMBING PIPES:

How can I protect my pipes to keep them from bursting during a hard winter freeze in North Florida?

Can galvanized steel pipe still be used for new water lines in a house? 

How can I tell if I have cast iron pipes in my house? 

Why can't a sanitary tee be used for a horizontal-to-horizontal drain pipe connection? 

What is the difference between green and white sewer drain pipes?

Is a washing machine drain hose required to be secured at the standpipe?

What are the abandoned pipes sticking out of the wall in my house?  

What are the code requirements for plumbing vent terminations?

What are the code requirements for layout of drain piping under sinks?

What causes a gurgling sound when a bathtub or sink drains? 

What is a "combination waste and vent" in a plumbing system? 

What is a building trap?  

What is a galvanized nipple?

What are the pipes sticking out near my water valves?

How do you accurately find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

What is the difference between water pipe and sewage (waste) pipe? 

Are plastic pipes (PVC, CPVC, and PEX) safe for drinking water? 

Is a hot water faucet handle required to be on the left? 

What is a dielectric union? 

What's that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater? 

If all the plumbing drains have water in them and you can still smell sewer gas, what's causing the problem?  

How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

Why is there a flexible accordion pipe under the sink? 

What is the difference between PVC and ABS plumbing pipe?

What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe? 

What are the pipes on my roof? 

• How can I find out what type of water pipe runs underground from the water meter to the house (service pipe)?

What is a P-trap?

Why is old galvanized steel water pipe a problem for homebuyers?

What does polybutylene pipe look like? Why is it a problem? 

• Which water pipes are an insurance problem and possibly uninsurable?

• Can you connect CPVC pipe directly to a gas water heater?  

     Visit our PLUMBING page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles. 






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