When I moved a box that looked quite out of place, to see what was behind, I saw the leak, before the leak, before the future leak. Was the box there to provide artistic concealment? Sometimes it is! I moved the box because it was empty.
I'll get to that.
This house was built in 1993. The original water main was replaced with the ball and lever valve you see on the right side of this photo.
It is dripping.
Which brings us to the bell-shaped device. That is the pressure-reduction valve.
That plumbing device reduces the water pressure at the street to a level that is more appropriate for a home's plumbing system. If the pressure is too high it can damage plumbing, fixtures, appliances, etc.
It is dripping.
Which brings us to the gray plumbing tubing. It is called polybutylene, or simply PB.
When it came out it was considered the end-all, be-all in plumbing tubing. It was cheap, easy to install and thought to last forever.
It didn't. It won't.
Read here what one my home inspection associations uses to teach home inspectors about it and how to identify it.
The older PB gets, the more likely it is to leak. In PB life spans, 32 years old is VERY old. The huge on-again and off-again class action suit which awarded homeowners money toward PB replacement is off again and out of money.
It can leak at any time, and when it does often the leak is catastrophic. A small drip can open up to a dramatic leak in minutes or hours. And then watch out.
So homeowners stuck with it now will have to replace it at their own expense if they need to, or can.
And purchasers that inherit it will have to consider that likelihood.
It's best to replace it before a problem happens! It is replaced with white CPVC or copper. Plumbing companies that replace it typically give a couple of prices depending on which material is chosen to replace it with. Here, for townhouses, replacement costs range from about $4,000 to about $6,500. For single-family homes the prices go up from there. So it ain't cheap!
It is a future leak waiting to happen.
My recommendation: when boxes or furniture or whatever are placed in places that look odd, if I can I move them. Sometimes their placement is intentional! And artistic. And beware what is behind! Once a series of boxes were piled high all along a foundation wall that covered up a long, wide horizontal crack. I could not move the boxes, but fortunately had a photo showing that they were there and that I simply didn't "overlook" and "forget to report" that disastrous foundation crack. If you can look, it is great when you can! You never know what you might find.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560