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WHAT EVERY HOME BUYER NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT H2O

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As any homeowner knows and every prospective new home owner should know, water can be the source of more problems in a home than anything else.  Whether it is drinking water, waste water, storm water, ground water, ice, ponds, streams, etc., water has the potential to cause many very expensive problems for a homeowner.

First and foremost, is the water in the home you are looking at potable (drinkable)?  Whether you have a private well or are part of a municipal system, the quality of your drinking water should not be something you take lightly.

Once you have tested your drinking water and established that it is potable, you should probably look at water pressure.  This is usually not a problem if you are on a municipal water system; however, if there is a private well that supplies the home.  It definitely needs to be tested.  The water quality may be great but if you don’t have sufficient water pressure your life can be miserable.  There is nothing worse than taking a shower, doing dishes, washing a car or watering your garden when there is insufficient water pressure.

If there is a private well servicing the property, it must be tested for pressure which is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI).  There can be many reasons for low water pressure and, in some cases, private wells can run dry.  If your well runs dry, you will incur a tremendous expense in drilling a new well.

Waste water is something that can also cause considerable problems.  Buyers who come from cities or metropolitan areas that have public water and sewer usually don’t give it much thought when they flush the toilets or do laundry; however, if you are not on a sewer line, you need to understand the basics of a septic system.   A septic system has a septic tank where solids are stored (and typically pumped out every couple years) and septic fields where liquids are drained.  Modern septic fields typically have infiltrators and ample space to allow for proper draining.  Older septic fields may consist of a discharge pipe and some gravel.  Both septic tanks and septic fields can fail and may need to be replaced.  After years of use, the dirt in some septic fields turns to clay.  The waste water can no longer be absorbed which means it then starts to back up into the tank and eventually into your house.  Other septic fields with good drainage can last forever.  In addition to waste water from bathrooms, you should learn where water is being discharged from washing machines and sump pumps.

Storm water can also be a source for many problems.  Water is naturally going to run downhill.  If the home you are looking to buy sits down from a road, there is a good chance that water is going to pool around your house and drain into the soil.  When that soil gets saturated, it is going to seep into your basement.  Basement seepage is fairly common and in some cases impossible to prevent.  Sometimes a curtain drain around the outside of your home will solve this problem or at least minimize the moisture.  If you see a sump pump and/or dehumidifier in the basement of the home you are looking at, there is a good possibility that the home may have leaks or seepage issues.

Gutters and downspouts play a huge roll in keeping water out of your basement.  When gutters freeze and expand, they sometimes crack.  When gutters are clogged with leaves, water will over flow and pool in concentrated areas.  When this happens, during a major storm, water can get into your basement at an alarmingly fast rate.

Roof flashing, damaged shingles, broken siding, chimney vents and skylights can all be the source of water leaking into your home.  Leaks can lead to mold which can be a very expensive problem to remedy as well as a dangerous health hazard.

When you are looking at a property near a lake, stream or pond you have to consider that the property may be in a wetland buffer zone.  These beautiful amenities may not cause damage to the home but it may impact what you are able to do on your property.  For example, environmental restrictions may prohibit you from putting a swimming pool in your backyard if the yard is in a wetland buffer zone (typically one hundred feet from the water source).

Water issues can become an expensive, time consuming burden for any homeowner.  When considering whether to purchase a home you should have all of these items carefully inspected and consider any potential negative impacts prior to making an offer on a home.

Speak with a Putnam County Real Estate Attorney Today

It is easy to take water for granted and to think of only its benefits. However, as a homeowner or someone hoping to buy a home, you cannot afford to overlook or underestimate water’s role in whether you enjoy your home or suffer. When buying or selling a home, you need an experienced Putnam County real estate lawyer who can assist you. Contact the offices of Meyer & Spencer, PC today to schedule a consultation with a member of our real estate team.

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