There is a lot to love about old houses. Often they were built from top-quality materials that would cost a fortune today. They might come with attractive details such as beautiful wood molding, hardwood floors and leaded glass windows. And compared to newer construction, buying a fixer-upper old house can give you a lot of space for less money.
Unfortunately not all old-house construction technology was built to stand the test of time; newer (at the time) technology like electricity and indoor plumbing utilized materials and methods that are antiquated and potentially problematic. Lurking beneath the surface of a beautiful and solid structure can be ticking time bombs like potentially hazardous knob-and-tube wiring and old pipes that rust and leak.
Failing Sewer Lines
Buried and out of sight, no one thinks much about their sewer line until it fails, seeping sewage into the ground or backing foul smelling wastewater up into the home. Sewer lines see heavy use and those in older homes were often built before modern appliances (garbage disposals, dishwashers, etc) and toilets forced more water through them, making them more susceptible to failure, especially if there’s been extensive remodeling. Older homes are also more likely to have issues with sewer lines shifting or being damaged by tree roots.
Outdated Fixtures and Connections
Nothing lasts forever. Older homes often have plumbing faucets, fixtures, and supply line connections that are nearing the end of their lifespan. Corrosion and general wear and tear can lead to restricted water flow, broken knobs, and leaks that make simply using water in the house an inconvenience at best and an expensive disaster at worse. While many people try to simply “get by” with failing plumbing, things have a way of breaking at the worst possible time. No one wants to return from vacation to find that the rusty water line valve under the sink finally failed, causing hundreds or thousands of dollars in water damage.
Turn Off the Taps
Modern plumbing has made it easier than ever for us to get clean water—and to waste it. “We have to change the mind-set that we can just turn on the water and let it run like Niagara Falls, ” Richard says. He considers the 1994 law mandating low-flow, 1.6-gallon toilets and 2.5-gallon-per-minute faucets and showerheads a step in the right direction. What about those pre-’94 water-wasters? Refitting them with dams, flow restrictors, and aerator devices can make them as water-efficient as a new fixture, or even more so.