The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector
Dear Barry: I purchased a brand new home — a bank-owned, “as-is” property. On the day of the home inspection, there was no hot water because the bank refused to turn on the gas service. Because of this, the home inspector did not discover that the upstairs bathrooms were piped with hot water only. So now I can’t use the tubs or showers because the water is scalding hot. Our plumber says there is a cross-connection of the hot and cold water lines somewhere in the building and that it will be difficult to find where the problem is. I can’t afford to repipe the house and don’t know what else to do. What do you advise? Andrea
Dear Andrea: Your house probably does not need to be repiped, but some investigative work will be needed to determine where the faulty pipe connections are located. To do this, some of the drywall will need to be removed to enable inspection and evaluation of the pipe layout. You should consult with your plumber to determine the least intrusive way to approach this process.
At the time of the home inspection, this problem could have been discovered, even without gas service or hot water. Your home inspector could have turned off the supply valve at the water heater. This is how home inspectors verify that faucets have cold on the right side and hot on the left when the gas service is off. Had your home inspector done this, he would have discovered the lack of cold water plumbing in the upstairs bathrooms.