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Homefinder: Check those pipes before you buy
A burst pipe is a homeowners’ nightmare, but ask any plumber and rare is the owner who pro-actively replaces old or suspect pipes.
“You see $50,000 renovations to a house, but you have to think, the house is like your body: just because you put new clothes on, it’s what’s going on inside that tells you how healthy you are,” says John Hurley, owner-operator of Olympic Plumbing and Draining.
“It’s the same with plumbing. You never see proactive homeowners when it comes to plumbing. It’s all reactionary.”
Hurley’s crew handles calls all over Greater Victoria including a fair share of emergency calls for burst pipes in Saanich.
Whether it’s the sewer line, main water line or a drain, the costs to fix and replace the pipes escalate quickly.
To avoid any immediate plumbing issues upon moving in, have a plumber do a camera inspection as part of the purchase agreement.
“Plumbers can run a camera through the main lines and make sure there are no serious catastrophes waiting to happen. I especially recommend it when there are trees,” Hurley says.
One stray root can cost thousands and force an insurance claim to cover damaged property.
Insurance claims are only going end up costing more in premiums.
“Some people are lucky. Plumbers might find the burst right away if it’s easy. Sometimes not, and sometimes it will only make sense to replace or upgrade pipes when the yard and/or house are opened up, to save money down the road.”
The same goes for electrical work.
During a major plumbing refit, Hurley witnessed a house that was outfitted with new fixtures and outlet.
But upon closer inspection, the homeowner realized the wiring was still 80 to 90 per cent knob and tube.
“House inspectors do their best, but sometimes you need to spend that extra few hundred dollars on a trade professional who will find major problems,” Hurley says.
After all, there’s nothing worse than a new homeowner immediately draining their reserve account to cover a flood disaster.
“Would you buy a house if the roof was less than 95 per cent intact?” Hurley says.
“It should be the same for plumbing, but it’s out of sight, out of mind until something goes wrong,” he adds.