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Plumbing Test-What to Do When Buying a Home in Texas

What’s The Best Plumbing Test to Save You Money When Buying a Home in Texas?

Roger: I tell all the realtors that I meet to recommend to their clients they do a sewer and water test. It’s funny because they’ll spend $500 to have a home inspector come in and inspect everything visually above the slab, check to make sure faucets works, toilets flush, the dishwasher runs, the oven gets hot and the light switches work. What I recommend to people is make sure that you recommend to your buyers to do the sewer and water test because it’s the buyer who pays for it, it’s an optional test. And we call it a leak test a sewer water test, a lot of people call it a hydro static test, the only problem with that me having a commercial background I had a hydro static test you actually boost the pressure in the system and on houses you don’t really want to do that. I know some of the realty companies have contracts that you have to sign to do a test that way they’ve got it worded in there if you do a test and you damage anything you’re going to repair it. If you just do a leak test you’re not going to damage anything, all you’re doing is putting a test ball in the sewer line where it leaves the house or putting a gauge on the hose bib to do a test. You want to determine if there is a leak under it. When you get people that are spending 3 or 400 thousand dollars or more on a house and then they have to come in and spend 20 to 50 thousand dollars to fix the sewer water leak; that can be devastating.


John/radio 1190: And I’ll tell you from my experience I was told you could have had this and it cost me a little over $6,000 and you could have had it covered in your insurance with a rider on your policy but guess what, the only thing you are covered for all major company policy. The only thing that was covered was was there damage in the house or to the house itself not to anything underneath which was the slab leak and finding this slab leak. So I don’t know what the additional rider would have cost but it probably wouldn’t have been $6,000 but without it, it cost me $6,000 and I bet you’ve got worse stories to tell as well.


Roger: It’s not that expensive. I’ve got some great insurance agents that I deal with and from all different companies. When you buy a house if you’ll have it done then it’s not expensive. I believe it’s hard to add it later because then they think OK you’ve determined you have a problem now you want to get insurance so you’re covered for it. One thing I tell people is on your insurance policy guys it’s a great thing to cover situations like that even though they don’t happen as often as you would think.  When it does happen you want to make sure you’re covered and the way some policies are written they may cover only like you said if damage occurs inside the house above the slab that way it’s the insurance company’s way out to say OK you’ve got a slab leak underneath but didn’t damage anything so that’s your problem.


John/radio 1190: And it’s just like with the insurance out of this is a plumbing surely an assurance but there’s oh if you’re buying a car or you could have this option you could have this I mean it didn’t add up and you can’t cover everything so it would be nice to at least have a check on it first.


Roger: And if you look at it from an insurance point of view, we charge $350 for a sewer water test if there is a two way clean out there.  And if you will look at that as insurance that $350 is a great insurance policy against 5 to 50 thousand dollars for a plumbing repair.


John/radio 1190: In your experience that it’s probably not I’m guessing it’s not a newer house that would normally have a slab leak it’s slightly older house, but if it’s happened once are you thinking I want to sell this house now because it’s just as likely to happen ten feet down the road here.


Roger: Well and if you’re selling the house and I go back to dealing with my relationship with realtors the seller normally doesn’t do a test, the sellers normally are like I’m selling the house because I’m moving. It’s the buyer’s choice as to whether they want to have that tested to see if they’re going to have issues. So if I was buying a house, a new house or an old house I would do it. And if you asked me that six months ago I would probably know I used to tell people if you’re representing a buyer that’s buying a house 10 years or older, tell them; I always recommend to my clients to do a sewer water test. For whatever reason I showed up at a networking event and I’ve talked to you about it before I networked through Master networks and I showed up an event at a new location Ron Hunt  a great realtor up north in Frisco, invited me to his group and I went up to his group and one of the home inspectors there said, Roger we tell every client buying a house to do a sewer and water test on the new houses too.  He said and you’d be surprised how many of them have leaks under them, so that was a surprise.


John/radio 1190: Would you say those are from lesser builders not mentioning any but the higher quality houses shouldn’t have that possibility or hey things happen.


Roger: I think it really gets back to the quality of the plumbing company you use.  If you look at and whether it’s a smaller builder a larger builder everybody wants the cheapest plumber.  Everybody you know America was built by the lowest bidder.  So that’s not us. And I tell people that all the time is look I’m not the cheapest plumber.  We want to come in and do what’s best. I never grew up wanting to be the cheapest of anything I did, but I always tried to be the best. So remember that when you’re buying a house it was built by the cheapest plumber. Did they take shortcuts to get their price lower or what did they do that there’s no way of knowing right.


John/radio 1190: I should mention now if people hop in and out of their car hopefully while they’re stopped that your phone number 972-442-4101, 972-442-4101 Texas green plumbing.  Again we’re speaking with Roger Wakefield of Texas green plumbing. The number here if you’d like to call it 214-787-1190. And as you say the lowest bidder I mean I think of that even with pizzas or hamburgers how low can the price get? There’s so much competition but there’s going to be a give on the other side and that could be your slab especially when it’s a row a row of houses or they’re putting them as quickly as they can and it may not be an effort to cut costs in a bad way but they’re not looking to as you say you’re not the cheapest guy necessarily but you want to have the best job done.


Roger: I see signs all the time that show 3 different circles; quality, speed and price.  You can get 2 out of the 3. If you get quality and value or quality and price you’re not going to get it fast, if you get quality and fast you’re not going to get it for a good price. So you’re always going to give up something. The best way to look at it is look I want it done best at least that’s how we look at. The plumbers I hire, I hire the most expensive plumbers in town because I want the best plumbers. I don’t want the cheapest plumber that I can get chances are he’s going to give me the worst job. I’ll try to find the best people and understand I pay more for that, I charge my customers more for that.  But if I’m having a plumbing job done I want to know that I’ve got the best guy in there doing it and that’s what we strive to be.


John/radio 1190: And you said your test is only about $350, did I hear that correctly?


Roger: Yes sir, $350 for a sewer water test, if they’ve got a two way clean out, because we have to be able to isolate and plug up the sewer line in order to test it.


John/radio 1190: Let’s pretend I don’t know what that to a clean out is, what exactly does that mean, say that again?


Roger: Your server system where it comes out of your house should have a two way clean out or sometimes there’s a bi-way clean out that’s optional you can go both ways, but there’s a clean out out front with either a black rubber gem cap on it or a screw in threaded plug and what we do is we go in there we put a test ball in where it exits at going towards the city main and that way we can fill up the water under the house to slab level just to see is it holding. If it holds you have no problems.  If it leaks down we’ll look at how far it leaks how fast and try to determine where that leak may be or how severe it is.


John/radio 1190: OK and I’m going to say only $350 if the house is $350,000 that’s really not a big chunk of change compared to what you’re looking at if you have a problem down the road.


Roger: Call it insurance.


John/radio 1190: There you go. You know things can still happen but at least you’ve done what you could do and you can’t take your whole house apart. You can’t put your house on an oscilloscope and check everything, but at least again you’ve done what you can do, you’ve had a quality job come out and quality person come out and check it out.


Roger: Look at it like this if they have a home inspector come out and he says OK there’s a leak at the water heater. And people are thinking, oh my gosh he saved us a couple of thousand dollars because we’re going to get the seller to install on the water heater now that’s great. If I come out and say look there’s a leak underneath the slab, and two of these I told you about this week we’re actually doing repairs on coming up, we’re saving that buyer on one house in particular almost $17,000 for a $350 investment that sounds like a great return.


John/radio 1190: Absolutely.


Roger Wakefield


Texas Green Plumbing