The plumbing system is one of the most vital components of a house. Even minor plumbing issues can disorganize your day and disrupt your daily routine. 

Discovering plumbing issues before they get out of hand can save you the money and hassle of a faulty plumbing system. 

This post covers the top 5 plumbing inspection issues we find in U.P. homes. We’ll also tell you how to identify and nip them in the bud!

5 Plumbing Inspection Issues To Look Out For In U.P Homes

There are a lot of older homes in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. While the plumbing system in an older home might have been the best when the house was built, technology has evolved. Many Yooper plumbing systems are now outdated. 

You can’t match an older home for charm. But if you’re looking to buy one, a plumbing inspection is essential. We often find the following issues in U.P. plumbing systems:

1. S Traps

S-traps are common in older homes in the U.P. They’re shaped like an “S” so that some water flowing out of the drain forms a water seal. This is supposed to block the sewer gases from entering the home. 

Sewer gases are characterized by a foul odor. Yuck! But more importantly, they can cause health complications when inhaled.  

Unfortunately, S-traps are not very effective in keeping sewer gas out of the home. They aren’t installed in new homes anymore. That is because large volumes of water can flush all the water out of the trap. This breaks the seal and leaves the trap empty for sewer gases to pass through. Even unclogging the kitchen sink after doing dishes by hand can cause this to happen.  

How To Detect An Unventilated S Trap

Here’s how to tell you have an unventilated S-trap: just flush the toilet. If your sink gurgles, there’s likely an S-trap involved.

What To Do If You Find S-Traps In Your Home 

You can correct an S-trap by installing a vent stack that goes through the roof. This will usually involve tearing into the wall.

A simpler solution is to change the trap to a P-trap system. This is a simple repair you can do at home. If you’re not sure how, there are many good videos that explain exactly how to do it.  

2. Polybutylene Piping

Polybutylene pipes are one of the most common plumbing problems in old homes. 

They were used in most houses built from the 1970s to the late 1990s. People liked them because they were affordable and easy to install.

However, they quickly lost their popularity. Here’s why: homeowners and plumbing professionals discovered that polybutylene was prone to cracking and bursting when exposed to chlorine. 

When the chlorine in water supplies comes in contact with polybutylene, a reaction occurs. It causes the polybutylene pipe to start flaking and scaling. This can cause fractures, eventually leading to water leakage. In extreme cases, it can cause the pipe to burst!

These pipes can burst at any time without warning. If you suspect your home might have polybutylene pipes, it’s important to call a professional for a thorough plumbing inspection.

How To Detect Polybutylene Pipes In Your Home

Water stains on your wall are an indication that you should get your pipes inspected.

However, identifying polybutylene pipes is tricky. They look a lot like other resin pipes. Hence, it’s best to seek help from professional inspectors like U.P. Home Inspection, LLC. We can help you determine what material your pipes are made from.

What To Do If You Discover Polybutylene Pipes In Your System 

It’s best to replace any polybutylene pipes you find in your home.  

Though expensive, it’s way cheaper than dealing with a burst pipe. Or worse yet, a flooded home!

Replacing polybutylene pipes can also extend your plumbing system’s expected life by at least 50 years. It’s a good way to increase your home’s value! 

3. No Sewer Clean-Out

Another common plumbing issue we see in homes in the U.P is the absence of a sewer clean-out.

A sewer clean-out is a capped pipe located on or near your property. It usually connects to your lateral sewer line. (The lateral is the pipe that connects your home sewer line to your septic tank or the city sewer system). 

A sewer clean-out comes in handy in leak detection. It is also essential for drain cleaning.  It provides access to the sewer line so blockages can be removed. 

Not having a sewer clean-out can lead to:

  • Strange smells from the plumbing.
  • Your pipes becoming unable to handle large amounts of water.
  • Leaks from unexpected places because of clogging. 

What To Do If Your Home Doesn’t Have A Sewer Clean-out 

Before concluding your home doesn’t have a sewer clean-out, contact a professional for a thorough plumbing inspection.

It’s not uncommon for sewer clean-outs to get buried in debris and dirt. 

If the plumbing inspection reveals that your sewer clean-out has been buried somewhere in your property, it’s up to you to either revive the old one or install a new system altogether. 

4. Ungrounded Or Unbonded Plumbing (DANGER!) 

Electrical grounding prevents electric currents from flowing unrestrictedly through the plumbing system of a building. It works by directing dangerous electricity from the home to the ground. 

Note that electric currents in pipes that are not grounded will seek to find a path back toward their source through anything possible. Hence, the interior wiring and appliances of your home could become electrified if they happen to touch an ungrounded portion of the plumbing system.

There’s also a high risk of electrocution if a person’s body comes in contact with an electrical circuit while the system is overloaded.

An older home may have electrical service that is inadequate or even unsafe. If you are unsure about your home’s wiring, have a professional check it out for you.

5. Plumbing Vents That End In The Attic

Plumbing vents are also known as vent stacks. They help regulate the air pressure in your plumbing system. They also allow fresh air into your plumbing system to help water flow smoothly through your drainage pipes. Venting also prevents toxic sewer gasses from entering your home. 

Because of the toxicity of these sewer gasses, it’s recommended that your plumbing vent is outside the house. Unfortunately, we sometimes find homes with plumbing vents ending in the attic.

Plumbing vents that end in the attic introduce stink and moisture into the attic. The toxic gasses they release also pose a threat to the occupant’s health.   

What To Do If Your Plumbing Vent Ends In The Attic

You can fix this issue by installing a studor valve at least 6 inches above the attic insulation. 

The studor valve prevents sewer gasses from entering the home by keeping the vent closed.  Only when it needs air to keep the water flowing smoothly through the pipes does it allow the vent to open. 

How Scheduling A Plumbing Inspection Can Help

Old homes, though charming, have their fair share of plumbing issues. Hence, it’s always best for home buyers to thoroughly inspect the property before sealing the deal. 

The same also applies to homeowners. Scheduling a plumbing inspection will help you detect these plumbing issues before they cause catastrophic damage to your home.

U.P. Home Inspection, LLC, offers inspection services to most of the U.P., including Marquette, Escanaba, and the surrounding areas.

Whether you’re already a homeowner or looking to buy a home in the U.P., we’re here to provide you quality inspection services you can trust.. 

Why not schedule a home inspection today?