Indoor plumbing! Such a convenience and so common we take it for granted. Hard to believe that for most of America, indoor plumbing has only been ‘common’ for around 60 -70 years. That means some of our grandparents (or parents) did not have indoor plumbing in the early years of their life.
It is estimated that less than half of US homes did not have indoor plumbing in 1940. So, no hot water, no showers/baths, no flush toilets (ever used an outhouse?). As late as 1960, 1/4th of homes in rural areas only had partial indoor plumbing.
Indoor plumbing is great – as long as it works correctly. At Nest Egg Home Inspections, we frequently see plumbing issues. Normally, these issues are not damaging leaks or corroded water lines and fixtures. Most of what we see are things considered ‘wear and tear’ by continual use and age. This post will cover four of the common plumbing issues we see.
In many homes, we see missing or deteriorating caulk and grout around sinks, countertops, tubs, and showers. Caulk and grout are installed at intersections and joints where water can penetrate – places like a sink or kitchen counters where it meets the wall, between shower tiles, and along the flooring outside a shower/bath, etc. Caulk and grout form a water barrier, keeping any water overflow from plumbing fixtures from penetrating the wall structure, flooring, or cabinetry. Any water penetration in these areas can lead to wood deterioration, rot, and structural failure.
Along this line, we often see cracked tiles – in showers/baths, floors, and countertops. Just as with missing caulk or grout, cracked tiles can allow water to penetrate through the crack into the wall structure, flooring, or cabinetry.
Plumbing fixtures are often loose – not just a loose shower head that needs to be tightened, but the complete fixture itself as it exits the wall. Sink faucets and shower/bath fixtures should not move at the wall entry point. Fixtures need to be secured in the wall to prevent movement. The movement of plumbing pipes can lead to joint and connection failure which can create a leak, causing extensive damage to walls, flooring, and even a crawlspace.
Sink/tub stoppers are not a plumbing fixture a homeowner thinks about much until it doesn’t work. We see many sink/tub stoppers that do not function properly. They either aren’t work at all (due to being stuck or disconnected under the sink or tub) or they do not close completely so they cannot hold water. This is less likely to cause water damage as it is to annoy a homeowner trying to take a bath or have a sink full of water to shave. Still, it is an issue that needs to be corrected.
These are issues that homeowners are sometimes willing to live with because they seem like small items. And they are right, they are small things- but small things that can cause big damage if not corrected. With any of these issues, the more quickly they are corrected, the less likely there will be water damage. A licensed plumber can help with any of these jobs.