Plumbing Inspections Checklist: A Complete Guide for Homeowners

Plumbing Inspections Checklist: A Complete Guide for Homeowners

Plumbing inspections are crucial for identifying and preventing problems in your home’s plumbing system. Knowing what to expect during an inspection and properly preparing can ensure the process goes smoothly. This comprehensive guide covers everything homeowners need to know about plumbing inspections and checklists.

What is a Plumbing Inspection?

A plumbing inspection is a thorough examination of a home’s water supply lines, drains, vents, fixtures, and more by a qualified plumbing inspector. Local jurisdictions often require plumbing inspections at various stages of construction and remodeling to ensure compliance with plumbing codes. Inspections safeguard homes against leaks, backflows, improper materials, and other hazards.

Homeowners may also choose to voluntarily request inspections when buying a home or doing renovations. Inspectors use checklists to methodically evaluate the condition and functionality of the plumbing system. Identifying issues early on helps avoid expensive repairs down the road.

When are Plumbing Inspections Required?

There are several instances when plumbing inspections are mandatory:

  • New home construction – Multiple inspections at various stages, including underground/rough-in, top-out, and final inspections. Ensures proper installation per codes.
  • Remodels – Anytime new plumbing is installed or existing plumbing is modified. Verifies safety and functioning.
  • Additions – If extra bathrooms or fixtures are added. Confirms adequate sizing and ventilation.
  • Accessory dwellings – Prior to occupancy to check for code compliance.
  • Change in building use – Converting a garage to an accessory unit or commercial space.
  • Resale inspections – Often required prior to selling a home. Identifies problems for buyers.
  • Periodic inspections – Some areas require re-inspection of aging systems. Uncovers wear issues.
  • Sewer lateral inspections – Increasingly required to find leaks that allow infiltration.
  • Backflow inspections – Annual inspection of backflow prevention devices.

Plumbing Inspector’s Checklist

The plumbing inspector will assess all parts of the plumbing system against the prevailing plumbing code. Here are some of the key areas and components they will evaluate:

Water Supply:

  • Service line and water meter – Proper sizing, materials, support, depth of burial. Meter registered and in working order.
  • Main shutoff valve – Easily accessible, functional, no leaks.
  • Supply lines – Approved piping material (e.g. copper, CPVC), properly sized and secured.
  • Hose bibs – Anti-siphon devices present. No backflow potential. Proper clearances.
  • Water pressure/flow – Adequate pressure at fixtures. Flows meet code minimums.

Drain, Waste, and Vent (DWV) System:

  • Pipe materials and installation – Proper materials (ABS, PVC, cast iron, etc.), joins secure, properly routed and supported. Proper slope achieved.
  • Traps and drain assemblies – Appropriate trap types present, properly vented, no clogs or blockages.
  • Cleanouts – Adequate number and placement for access. Covers secure.
  • Venting – Adequately sized, properly connected to system, terminations meet height rules.
  • Sewer lateral – No root intrusion or leaks. Proper connection to public sewer or private septic.

Fixtures and Appliances:

  • Installation – Securely fastened to drain/vent system. No leaks underneath. Hot and cold supplied properly.
  • Operation – Fixtures fully functional. Hot and cold water present. Adequate pressure and flow.
  • Drainage – Fixtures fully drain without backing up. Drains clear of blockages.
  • Safety – Anti-scald valves present. Electrical grounding functioning properly.
  • Specialized Systems:
  • Fuel gas – Proper materials, sizing, shutoffs present. Connections to appliances secure. No leaks.
  • Backflow prevention – Required devices present for irrigation, fire suppression, equipment, etc. Annual testing documented. 
  • Septic system – Pipes, tanks, drainage field maintained properly. System adequately sized and compliant.

How to Prepare for a Plumbing Inspection

  • Proper preparation is key to ensuring your plumbing inspection goes smoothly:
  • Review code requirements – Know what is required in your area so you can address any deficiencies ahead of time.
  • Inspect visible plumbing – Look for leaks, improper materials, safety issues. Perform dye and camera tests of drainage system if concerned.
  • Check water pressure/flow – Verify adequate pressure at fixtures and sufficient hot water.
  • Clear access – Remove items blocking access to water shutoffs, cleanouts, and piping.
  • Test fixtures and drains – Ensure toilets flush strongly, faucets flow properly, and drains are clear.
  • Locate documentation – Have permits, system diagrams, past inspection records, and maintenance logs available for inspector.
  • Backflow testing – If required, have backflow devices recently tested by a certified technician. Provide device test reports.
  • Be on site – Greet the inspector and be available to answer questions. Discuss any problems you are aware of.

What Happens After the Inspection?

The inspector will discuss their findings and point out any code violations or deficiencies that must be remedied. They may provide repair instructions and timelines for re-inspection.

In most cases, inspections result in:

  • Approval – System is code-compliant. Permit is approved or finalized.
  • Conditional approval – Minor issues found must be fixed. An approval is still granted.
  • Disapproval – Major issues found. No permit/certificate issued until repairs completed and re-inspected.

It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure all required repairs or upgrades are completed properly by the deadline given. It is also smart to fix any recommended improvements noted. Thoroughly addressing inspection findings prevents problems down the road.

In summary, plumbing inspections are a vital process for confirming the safety and functionality of your home’s plumbing system. Knowing what inspectors look for, properly preparing, and completing any required repairs ensures your inspection is smooth and successful. Following inspectors’ professional advice also optimizes your plumbing systems for maximum life span and prevention of costly issues.

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