Have You Got The ‘New House plumbing Blues’?

Have You Got The ‘New House plumbing Blues’?

or What’s wrong in this picture.? A Plumbing Puzzler.

new and clean but not right

Everything is clean and new and dry, no leaks. It’s a new house, less than 2 years old, being sold by the builder owner.

He (or his plumber) would get 3 out of 4 on this issue because of the 4 sinks in the home only this one is like this. Very likely, one person did the rough-in plumbing (blue and red lines) and later, somebody else connected the sinks at a finishing stage.

The plumbing IS all clean and new. There are no leaks and all the parts are there, so what’s wrong.

Look at the copper parts at the ends of the ‘t’ offshoots. As they are installed they are filled with water and that defeats their purpose and function.

correct sink connections

This shows another sink in the same house done correctly.

Here you see the intended installation position. Air is trapped in those vertical chambers.

The air is compressible (water is not) and provides a cushion to counteract shocks or pressure changes in the water supply lines resulting from valve switching or flow changes from other fixtures and equipment in the system.

Noise can be caused by these pressure changes in systems that don’t have such a dampening device. This is called ‘water hammer’ and indeed it is a hammering repetitive noise.

The noise can be quite loud and intrusive. In older more brittle plumbing systems it can be violent enough to cause leaks or breakage. Sometimes the noise can be of a high enough frequency to sound like whistling or singing, but it is commonly low bass tones that transmit well through the structure.

The “noise arrestors” won’t always be these pre-made bottle shaped parts. Plumbers commonly create them on the spot with standard plumbing supplies. All that is required is a capped vertical pipe section open only in the downward direction.

Non-professionals often see these spurs or offsets and think it is unfinished work or provision for future connections.

They can be located anywhere in the system and are often found near sinks or showers and near hot water tanks and radiators of hot water heating systems.

system illustration

This illustration shows 8 of these “air chambers” in this example of a residential water supply system.


Comparatively this is a minor mistake, easily corrected and not a major cost. But it’s significance is in the future performance of the plumbing in this new home.

This is also one example of why it is just as important to have a new home fully inspected. Just because it’s new, built with all new components, doesn’t mean it’s always done right.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

Believe It Or Not, It’s Just “Hanging In There”.

 Believe It Or Not, It’s Just “Hanging In There”. Yes believe it or not this is rot. Ordinary wood rot is the process of decay due to the breakdown of the wood fiber components as they are exposed to mold, micro-organisms, insects and water. This is a complete ecology with the mold eating the wood and other things feeding on the mold and weakened wood and others feeding on them, etcetera, etcetera. rotten veranda post. It can occur right before your eyes, as in this case, as well as in hidden locations. Primarily all that is required is the relatively frequent recurrence or constant presence of water. Other than that it’s the right temperature range and the ubiquitous presence of mold spores and the rest of the micro-biology team. (They’re always waiting in the wings.) Here this is outdoors on a secluded corner of the veranda, and the caulk that was used to ‘seal’ where the wood and concrete touched is still there.  Caulk only works between some materials, in drained conditions and is the back-up to proper flashing or other separation controls. Caulking instead of the classic separation and flashing details will only work for a short time. Here’s the shocker (for some);Believe it or not –  Just like copper is a conductor for electricity, concrete (and cement and masonry) conducts water.  It does not have to be cracked or broken to transmit water to wood in contact with it. Just being in touch, in contact is sufficient. That’s why framing sills (mud sills) and basement wall shoe plates have to be gasketed between the wood and the concrete. Old school material was tar paper. Now there are rolls of foam plastic/vinyl gasketing available in widths to match the dimensions of the wood. So in this case the caulking sealed out nothing. It actually prevented drying of the wood here which would have preserved it longer. The concrete conducted water to the face end of this 4×4 column and the end grain would draw in the water by capliarry action, similar to a straw but driven by chemical affinity rather than suction forces. This is how water moves in the living tree. So evert time this concrete surface got wet from weather or garden watering it delivered water to the wood. The paint and caulking kept the water in place so the wood rotted. Believe it or not, this was pressure treated wood. The rest of the column is dry and has no rot.  The guaranty or warranty instruction for this product promises that it will last for 20 years outdoors provided it is not in contact with water or water retaining materials. It can even be in ground contact as long as it rests in a drained gravel bed. Fortunately for this homeowner this column is not structural. It’s just “hanging in there”.   Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

The Double Header…Raining On You, Times Two!

The Double Header: Concentrates the rain to get BOTH shoulders as you walk up the stairs!  (This is #2 in a series on a single flipped house.)


flippers incomplete system

Yes that’s right.

The original owner of this flipped property installed the gutter system to keep you dry, from the roof runoff at least, when you walk up the steps to the side door. (The everyday entry for the family).

The flipper replaced the old wood steps and landing, removing the downspouts in the process. And then he left things ‘up in the air’, literally!  It probably wasn’t raining on the day that he finished or hoped it wouldn’t be when the house was being viewed.  It wasn’t raining when I inspected but I did not miss it.

Now look at this configuration.  This is the bottom edge of a flat low slpoe roof surface with a wider overhang where the side door is The trough or guttering is continuous. It’s all a the same height. OK

So why are there two downspout drops here in the same area?  Why is it like that?

The answer it the gutter troughs are basically level.  There is no grading, no slope to cause the water to drain to a lower point where the downspout is positioned. This incorrect.  The minimum is a 1″ drop in 12 feet.  I recommend more as such a minimal flow is easily disrupted or blocked.

So the gutters ‘pond’ (fill up with water) till it reaches the downspout drain, but some water always stays there. Its like having a bath tub that tilts away from the drain.  There will always be a puddle of water in it.

That ‘ponding’ causes side effects.   Leaves collect there.  They compost to a mud.  This raises the water levels and causes furthur blockages.  Water can be held against wood facia boards causing them to rot.  Metal clad facias still have wood behind and the metal cladding has overlapping joints, but they are not sealed.  Water will get in.

What does this show us?   stain detail

It routinely overflows and drips, so that means the downspouts are often blocked. We also see facia details that tell us it is made of wood, covered in the red toned metal and the joints are overlapped but not sealed.


As an experienced professional inspector I will understand that the original guttering was not correctly installed.

The gutters remain unsloped, prone to ponding and overflowing and will need more than normal maintenance to keep clean and operational.

There are conditions conducive to the rot and decay of the roof facias. The metal flashing will keep any such condition hidden for a long time, but I will be advising my client of this risk.

And of couse the downspout system remains incomplete, ‘up in the air’ where the flipper left it.


This is #2 of a series on the same flipped house.

1.     Skippy will’ve skipped, before the water starts to drip.

2.     Double Header…Raining On You, Times Two!

3.     A Case Of New Not Being Better … A Stair Story 

4.     Posting soon: A Case Of More Not Being Stronger…..A Stair Story. 

5.     Posting soon:  The LANDING Looked Good But Is There A CRASH In The Future?

6.     To come – landing/deck

7.     To come – electrical

8.     To come – exterior & landscaping

Please remember to have an inspection during the real estate process to help eliminate any of these concerns! Put our experience to work for you.


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post