Water pressure is important. Low pressure can result from various causes. The service may be too small or it may be reduced in diameter due to lime or corrosion, particularly with very old lead or galvanized service pipes. A 3/4 inch inside diameter service is considered adequate.

The main distribution pipes should be 3/4 inch inside diameter, but branch lines may be inch inside diameter.

Copper pipes inch inside diameter are 5/8 inch outside diameter, and 3/4 inch inside diameter pipes are 7/8 inch outside diameter.

Galvanized pipes inch inside diameter are 7/8 inch outside diameter and pipes 3/4 inch inside diameter are 11/8 inch outside diameter.

The supply pressure may be inadequate. If the house has its' own water system, check the gauge on the pressure tank, which should read a minimum of 15 and preferably 30 to 50 pounds. Anything less will indicate the pump is not operating properly, or the pressure setting is too low. If the supply is from a municipal system, the pressure in the mains may be too low, though this is unlikely.

Shutoff valves at the service entrance and at various points in the system may have become frozen with age or little use.

Rust or white or greenish crusting of pipe or joints may indicate previous leaks that should be watched.

Water hammer may be a problem. This results from stopping the water flowing in the pipe by abruptly closing a faucet. Air chambers placed on the supply lines at the fixtures usually absorb the shock and prevent water hammer. If there is water hammer, air chambers may be waterlogged. If there are no air chambers, they may be added.

The water from any private well should be tested even though the well has been in continuous use.


The drainage system consists of the sewer lateral, the underfloor drains, the drainage pipes above the floor, and the vents. Pipes may have become clogged or broken or they may be of inadequate size.

Venting in particular may be inadequate and far below code requirements.

When a fixture drains sluggish, check the following:
Old laterals are commonly of vitreous bell tile. These may have been poorly installed or become broken, allowing tree roots to enter at the breaks or through the joints Roots can be removed mechanically but this operation may have to be repeated every few years.

The underfloor drains may be of tile or even of steel and could be broken or rusted out. They may have become clogged and only need cleaning.

The drainage system above the basement floor or within the house should be checked for adequacy and leaks.

Vents may be inadequate or may have become clogged in extreme cases they may cause the water in the traps to be siphoned out, allowing sewer gas to enter the house.


Additional supply and drain lines may be desirable modernizing a house. New lines may be required for automatic washers, added baths, adequate sill cocks, or reorganizing the layout.


With a storage water heating system, there should be pressure relief valve and an extension. The valve should be checked regularly.

All water heaters should be drained at least once a year to prevent the buildup of sediment in the bottom of tank. Estimated life expectancy for water heater types;

6 to 12
Gas Fired
5 to 10
Oil Fired
10 to 15

Gas and oil fired water water heaters should be checked at least once a year by the gas company or oil dealer....probably at the same time the gas or oil furnace is checked prior to the start of the heating season.


Plumbing fixtures that are quite old may be rust stained and require replacement or, it may be desirable to replace them just for appearance. Pipes:
Piping materials have estimated life expectancy of:

Years Material
30 to 40 Galvanized steel pipe
50 to 60 Copper
25 to 50 Cast Iron
15 to 50 Plastic

Depending on water acidity and mineral content, galvanized pipes often become severely clogged after 20 to 30 years. Plastic pipe is relatively new and accurate life estimates are difficult to make. Each type of pipe material has advantages and disadvantages.

Home || Our Company || Home Manual || Services || Contact Us

, Habitat Home & Building Inspection Services, Inc.
Another Poughkeepsie Journal Website