Exploring Emergency Plumbing Services

Buying a House from a Tax Auction? Here Are 5 Things to Know About the Plumbing!

by April Rivera

Buying a house that has been vacant from a property-tax auction can be a great way to get a home at a low price. If you are buying the house at a tax auction, you won't be able to inspect the interior of the house beforehand. If the previous owner did not take measures to properly winterize the home, there could be a lot of plumbing problems you would have to deal with. 

Winterizing a home is more than simply shutting off the water. To properly winterize, the water should be drained from the plumbing, and antifreeze should be put down the drains. Here's what can happen to the plumbing in a vacant home, especially one that has not been winterized. 

Thieves may have stolen copper piping

Copper tubing and piping can be sold at recycling centers for cash, and this makes vacant homes appealing to thieves who are looking to score some fast, easy cash. If the water wasn't drained from the house before it was left vacant, the interior of the home may be flooded. If the home was drained, obviously you'll need to replace the missing tubing and piping before you will be able to use the plumbing in the home. 

The house may smell like sewer

If the plumbing wasn't properly winterized, the water in the drain traps may have evaporated long ago. Without water in the drain traps, sewer gas can easily escape into the home to the point that it can be suffocating. Sewer gas contains dangerous gases such as methane, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia, which can cause serious health problems, including immediate loss of consciousness and asphyxiation when the gases are present at very high levels. When you first enter the home, open the door slowly. If you smell sewer gas, do not enter the home unless you wear a breathing apparatus. 

The plumbing may have cracked seals

Whether the water was shut off or evaporated, there's a risk of dried and cracked seals in the plumbing system. The valves, gaskets, and hoses have rubber seals that will dry and crack if there is no water or moisture to keep them soft. If you attempt to turn the water on or get the water flowing, the water pressure will cause the dry and cracked seals to fail and send a torrent of water flooding out of the seals and into the home. Therefore, hire a plumber to inspect the condition of each seal before you get water flowing through the plumbing again. 

The pipes may be damaged 

In addition to rubber being susceptible to getting damaged from being too dry, pipes can also rot and crack when they are dry. And if the house wasn't properly winterized, there is a risk you will find broken pipes due to the freezing and thawing cycles the house went through while it was vacant. Because of these problems, the pipes in the house may be damaged. If the water was turned on, the pressure could cause ruptures in the plumbing system throughout the house. 

Scaly mineral deposits may have built up inside the pipes

After you've taken the time and effort to make sure the seals and pipes are in good condition from visual inspections, you may still have a problem. The water may be low-flowing or blocked due to too many mineral deposits inside the plumbing system if the water in the home was not shut off or was only shut off at each faucet and toilet. Over time, scaly mineral deposits may have built up inside the pipes. Hire a plumber to shock your plumbing system with de-scaler to remove the mineral deposits inside the pipes and fixtures. 

In conclusion, don't let these types of problems keep you from buying a house in a tax sale. Now that you know what could be wrong, hiring a plumber such as The Clean Plumbers will likely be the first thing on your to-do list.