As inspectors how far do we go

I am fairly new to the trade. Less than a year. I inspected a 1970’s home today. Cast iron drains and galvanized water lines. Very weak water pressure on the hot water side with sink and shower running in 2 bathrooms. First thought, old galvanized lines stopping up. Here is the question. Buyer is about to replace all the floors in the home, crawlspace access is very limited by the new ductwork for the HVAC. Plumber could cut a few entry holes in a few locations replace all the plumbing cover back up. Lay new floor, problem solved. Would never be any easier or cheaper than right now. Or do we stick with the “recommend inspection by a licensed plumber“ and walk away. How far do we go as inspectors. Thanks for the opinions

Note what you see and recommend the trade involved to repair any deficiencies.
And with your description of the plumbing, that sounds more like a 1950’s build than a 1970.
I was building houses in the 70’s and galvanize piping and cast iron was no longer used.
You might want to check with your local tax dept. on the age.


You already identified the issue (low water pressure), the cause(galvanized piping), and the recommendation (evaluation and repair by a licensed plumbing contractor).

When/why/how they do the repairs is not a concern to us as inspectors.


Ben, report what you see and refer it out to a qualified plumber. One reason for not going further is; What if you are wrong in your assessment? Now, guess who gets the bill or sued.

Best to you.

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Thank you Mr Cyr. That was still pretty common in our area at the time. Was definitely on the way out though. Thanks to all for the help. Good advice from all. So it’s always best to point out the issue, recommend the proper professional, and let the buyer deal with the information as they see fit. Thanks again

I have no compunctions about verbally stating what you observed and deem as best, I would be thinking the same as you. The average Buyer flounders when it comes to what, when, where, how, price of repairs and updates. Some inspectors may have better instincts on how to navigate the above.

Sometimes I will use the term ‘Upgrade’. It is not a summary item, or maintenance, or minor repair.

If visible galvanized pipe corrosion, past leaks, over 25 years old, or underground use, I call it out for a plumber to review. Summary item.

If the above applies or not I add the following, which is a disclaimer -

Info: Galvanized steel piping has been known to… (it varies here depending on location, soil, above/under ground use, etc.) …and may be approaching the end of it’s useful lifespan. Consider budgeting for replacement

Depending on what I know of the Buyer background, sometimes the following -

Upgrade: Consider the installation of PEX plumbing supply lines. They are…

In my experience clients have been grateful for information on building systems they may not be familiar with. There are some products and systems that do well in the SW and are relatively inexpensive. Some don’t do well. It is true that REAs do not like specified repairs and neither do contractors, but suggestions and information seem appropriate to me.

Only do the above for a few, big ticket items. But the voices of older and wiser inspectors is correct, it is generally better to not recommend repairs.

I like the upgrade option in the future. I am pretty sure this family will move in replace the floor and be unhappy with the water pressure issue at the least. Major system failure at worst. I have sent my report already, called out the issue and suggested further inspection. I just hope they take it to heart.

You inspect it for what it is.
Follow the SOP, report what it is, not what you think you’d prefer it to be…

Yes it can get a clogged drain. But it’s been there for 50 years. Have you ever seen a PVC drain clog up before 50 years?

Low water flow can be an issue, but it depends what you consider low flow. It’s relative. Try reporting factual information instead of how relative it is compared to a house built in 2020.

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Ben what area are You in that was using galvanized supply piping and cast iron drains in the 70 's