If you are planning to buy a home, it is always a good idea to have a house inspection conducted before you officially agree to the purchase. However, if you are electing to forgo the inspection for any reason, you should still take time to look over the home yourself and note any issues that may lead to repairs or costs down the road. The plumbing system especially is important to focus on since leaks and backups could cause a lot of damage. Here are four things to check for during your plumbing inspection.

Slow Drains

Turn on each sink in the home, and make sure it and the drain work properly. If there are just one or two drains that are slow, this is probably not a huge problem; it can likely be fixed with a plunger and perhaps a container of drain cleaner. If all of the drains in the home are slow, on the other hand, you may be wise to walk away from the sale. This usually indicates a blockage in the main sewer line, which can be costly to fix and can lead to dangerous sewage backups if you don't fix it.

Mineral Deposits

Look around the edges of the faucets and shower heads. Do you see a lot of mineral deposits forming? If so, there's a good chance that the home has hard water that is not being treated by a water softener. (Hard water has a high mineral concentration, and the minerals tend to settle out of the water). If there are deposits around the faucets, there are probably deposits inside the pipes, too. If the pipes are only a few years old, then this is not a major issue -- you can have a plumber install a water softener to keep things from getting any worse. However, if the pipes are quite old, then the mineral deposits inside of them may be extensive and could lead to low water pressure, if not a complete blockage.

Bubbled Paint

Look closely at the walls that you know pipes are running behind. For instance, you can be sure there are pipes running behind the wall in the kitchen where the sink is mounted and behind the bathroom wall that the shower is placed on. Make note if you see any bubbled paint or bowed drywall in these areas. This indicates that there has been a plumbing leak here -- or perhaps there is still a leak currently.

Mold Growth

Venture into the basement, and look closely at the floors, walls, and ceilings around any exposed pipes. If you see any mold in these areas, then you can bet that the pipes are leaking. While repairing a single leaking pipe is not always a huge issue, there's no telling how large the leak will get (and how much damage will be done) over the next few weeks. So you may be best off walking away if the seller won't fix the problem promptly.

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