NJM Safety Center - Residential

Annual Plumbing Inspection

Inspections and maintenance can identify and solve problems before major damage occurs.

Leaking pipes can lead to damage and decay of wood structural members, floors and flooring, and the buildup of mold and mildew. The long-term damage from a persistent leak may well end up being your responsibility for repairs, as many insurance policies do not cover maintenance-related problems.

Use this list to help identify inspection areas, which should include all accessible plumbing, plumbing fixtures, and appliances that use water.

  • Look in kitchen and bathroom cabinets under sinks. Check all the drainage pipes to make sure they are still solid and are not showing any signs of leaks at the joints.
  • Look for any signs that water has been dripping from the supply pipe connections.
  • Typical signs of leaks include corrosion on the supply line fittings and valves and stains on the bottom of the cabinet.
  • Make sure that the supply line valves can be turned off and back on and that they don't leak when they are activated.
  • Look at the supply lines to toilets. Make sure that there are no leaks and that the valves can be turned off and back on and that they don't leak when they are activated.
  • Check the valves for the supply lines to your washing machine. Make sure that they can be turned off and back on again and that they don't leak when they are activated.
  • Locate the areas in rooms that are directly below any bathrooms on upper floors. Look for stains on walls or ceilings or a musty smell.
  • Look around all of your appliances that use water, including dishwashers, refrigerators with ice makers, sinks, bathtubs, showers and toilets, for signs of cracked or warping flooring
  • Listen for any sounds of dripping water or periodic running of the toilet supply water. Note if any of your sink faucets are dripping or if your tub(s) or shower(s) are dripping.
  • Check outdoor hose bibs to make sure that they are not dripping.
  • Look for persistent signs of rust in the water.
  • If you have a basement, inspect any drain pipes that are exposed.
  • Older houses may have cast iron drain pipes where the joints are filled with fiber and a lead seal. Check joints to make sure there are no signs of leaks.
  • If you have a basement drain and a sump pump, make sure both work properly.
  • If you have a crawl space, check to make sure that there are no indications of water leaks from first floor plumbing and no open drains where a pipe may have broken loose.
  • Check your water bills against your sense of your water use. A significant increase could indicate a leak if you have not been watering a lot more or washing more clothes than usual.

Article provided by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.