What Do I Need to Know about the Plumbing

What Do I Need to Know about the Plumbing

“What do I need to know about the plumbing?” The answer can be rather long and rather complex, but in the simplest of terms, the plumbing of a home consists of two major parts:

• Supply System – the plumbing that brings fresh water into the home, a connection of sealed pipe sections and valves under pressure, which are intended to bring a continuous flow upon demand

• Drainage System – the plumbing that safely removes used water and waste products from within the home through a series of vented pipe sections which flow downward to allow discharge via gravity

Well, that is about as simple as the explanation gets, water in, and waste out. But there is much more to the story, such as the types of piping used, “are the pipes made of plastic, copper, or galvanized steel”?

And, “what types of connectors are used, brass fittings, soldered connectors, or adhesive materials?” And then, “what other types of fixtures or accessories are found within the system; are there well pumps, storage tanks, pressure regulators, treatment systems, water heaters, and so on?”

And, “what types of traps or clean-outs are provided for the toilets, sinks, and tub/showers”? Wow, so many things to cover, and so many locations for possible leaks. After all, plumbing systems in good service are those that deliver the inbound potable water upon demand, and then take the contaminated waste water outbound, and without any leakage along the way!

Let’s talk about the supply piping first. Prior to the early 1960’s, most homes built in the last century used inbound water pipes made of galvanized steel, galvanizing being a process of coating raw steel pipes through a corrosion resistant chemical process. Galvanizing worked well, but typically this coating material began to breakdown over time, which then left the steel piping exposed to water which in turn began the process of decay.

Usually galvanized piping had a life expectancy of approximately 40 years, maybe a bit longer depending upon their use, maintenance, or original installation methods. If the home you are purchasing has galvanized piping, it may be getting up in age and therefore this system may need to be replaced at some future point in time. Signs of corrosion or visible signs of rust detected during an inspection may suggest that the system has areas of decay, and that further evaluation may be advised.

Some other older supply systems to watch out for are various forms of flexible plastics. Only a few types of plastic piping are recommended for use within supply systems by the International Residential Code and the Uniform Plumbing Code, and these uses are very specific in nature. If you have any plastic supply piping, this should be given special attention as these are not common, and some plastic systems have been prone to have problems. Expert advice should be sought under these conditions.

Now fast forward in time just a bit. After the 1960’s construction methods began using copper piping almost exclusively. With the exception of some weaker versions of the first copper pipes (there are various grades K,L,M), extruded copper plumbing has become the gold standard. Almost all supply piping installed today in residential construction is made of copper. This type of material is largely resistant to corrosion from water, is easier to install and/or repair than steel products, and in most cases copper has become the most cost effective material overall.

The only concerns with copper piping are with respect to its softer material which is subject to puncture if struck, by a nail for example, or it may rupture if bent by accident or not supported properly. Copper piping is also subject to galvanic oxidization if connected to galvanized steel piping. Meaning that if a steel connector or section of galvanized steel pipe is attached to a copper pipe, a corrosive reaction develops slowly, usually at the point where the two sections meet.

And remember, corrosion then ultimately leads to decay and leakage. If you have copper piping, keep the entire system made of copper and all will be fine (brass fittings may also be used with copper piping as an alternative material). There are special dielectric connectors that may also be used if a steel pipe is to be connected to a copper pipe.

Okay, we are getting a bit beyond the simple explanations we promised. Just remember:

• copper = good, this is the most common material used today

• galvanized steel = fine, but regular inspection advised due to older materials

• plastic = okay, but for specific uses only in supply systems

Now before we leave the supply piping discussion we need to revisit “what does corrosion on piping really mean?” Corrosion is a process whereby external materials or very small amounts of water are making their way to the surface. Put another way, this could mean that the threads or connections where two sections of piping come together are not completely sealed tight, and therefore tiny amounts of water can get through any small gaps, thus making their way to the outside of the connection. Remember these supply water pipes are under pressure, so any weakness will give water a place to escape.

Now in this example of threaded piping, if the threads are not damaged, cleaning them with a wire brush and then adding Teflon-tape or other piping compounds to the threads might be all that is required to stop further corrosion or leakage. Repairs are not always this simple, but the point here is that corrosion is the first indication that something is not right, so any mention of corrosion on pipes/connectors or fixtures should be taken seriously as this is the plumbing systems “early warning” that repairs are needed. Left unattended, corrosion becomes a leak, and although this process may take months or weeks before a leak appears, it WILL lead to a leak at some point in time. So like most things, the sooner the problem is addressed the better!

Now let us talk about the waste or outbound drainage plumbing systems. Before the 1960s most residential applications were of clay tiles or cast iron piping (and a few less common uses of lead, brass, etc). Clay tiles didn’t last very long, only 25-40 years typically, so any clay piping still in use would be suspect to cracks and leakage. Cast iron on the other hand could last up to 80-100 years by some estimates, but also noting that there have been reports of cast piping failures as early as 40-60 years of use.

Since most of a home’s waste plumbing may be buried under a floor/slab or within the soil, it is hard to really know the true condition of the entire waste system. That being said, an inspection of the visible sections is a great placed to start, and this visual inspection can provide an indication of how the rest of the system may be functioning. Additionally, in the case of concealed areas within the soil for example, visual inspections for wet areas can also be an indication of an active leak.

Or if the water flow out from toilets/tub/showers appears to be slower than usual, this could be an indication of a break or blockages within the waste lines. If problems such as these are evident, further evaluation by a licensed plumber might be recommended, whereby these professionals could send a camera scope through the waste lines to visually inspect then from the inside out. As previously stated, the aim of any initial inspection is to detect possible warning signs, to give a general assessments, and then to recommend next steps accordingly.

If we look beyond early waste systems of clay tiles and cast iron, we move to today’s almost exclusive use of ABS plastic piping (Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene schedule 40, typically black in color). Okay, that was a mouthful, but one word to remember: “Plastics.”

Unlike supply systems, for waste systems the use of plastics has appeared to have been a huge success! ABS plastic is smooth (unlike the sand-paper texture of cast iron) so clogs due paper getting caught inside the waste lines have been drastically reduced. Plastic is also rigid, meaning that unlike clay pipes that crack if struck or squeezed by tree roots, plastic piping is more likely to withstand these external forces. And did we mention that installing or repairing ABS plastic waste lines is much easier and less costly than the other materials.

Now no discussion of waste systems would be complete without a brief mention of the many connections and fixtures used. Remember that every connecting point is an opportunity for leaks. Every toilet, sink, shower, and water-using appliance should be thoroughly checked. This starts with a visual inspection to determine if the parts were assembled properly. Then further assessments are taken to look for corrosion, stains, and leaks … these steps all begin the process of “early warning” and detection! And then of course, running water through the system can be a final measure of the waste system’s current condition.

A standard inspection process may look at literally hundreds of connection points in an average home. And in addition to determining the types of materials installed, the inspection process will try to weed-out any potential problem areas. Remember, no matter what type of system you have, the key is to keep a watch out for the signs of corrosion or leakage! Plumbing system problems can be serious and costly concerns, but the home inspection can help make the process of detection and analysis a little less of a concern.

And that completes today’s course of Plumbing 101.

Message me if your thinking about buying a Fort Collins or Loveland home at m.me/EdPowersRealEstate

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Ed Powers Real Estate 970-690-3113 ed@EdPowersRealEstate.com www.EdPowersRealEstate.com

What Should You Know About Virtual Home Tours

What Should You Know About Virtual Home Tours

Starting in March, life as we knew it started shifting for most of us because of the coronavirus pandemic. Non-essential businesses were shuttered, schools were closed, and we started spending a lot more time at home.

The pandemic is still going on, despite most states being in some phase of their reopening plan, and people are doing more things virtually than ever before.  

For example, some employers are saying they’ll keep their employees working remotely for the foreseeable future.

A Changing Real Estate Market?

Inevitably, these changes have impacted the real estate market. The market has been surprisingly strong through this, with mortgage rates historically low, but that doesn’t mean buyers and sellers aren’t doing things differently.

The virtual tour is one example. Increasingly homebuyers are going through the entire process online, meaning realtors are showing them homes virtually.

A survey that came out in January, before the pandemic affected America, found that prospective homebuyers preferred to work with agents offering virtual tours. The National Association of Realtors’ 2019 report called “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” found that 48% of buyers between the ages of 39 and 63 said they found virtual tours very useful as they searched for homes.

The following are things buyers, sellers, and real estate agents should know about virtual home tours.

Agents Can Go in the Home to Do the Tour

The term virtual tour is somewhat generalized, and it can refer to a few different scenarios.

In one scenario, there’s a virtual tour that’s prerecorded, and then anyone can look at it on demand.

There are also instances, particularly now, where real estate agents representing buyers will go into the home and then walk them through it live, but still virtually using something like Zoom or FaceTime.

For some buyers, this represents a better option because their agent can help them understand the nuanced details of the home that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. If you have a real estate agent who’s doing a tour for you, it’s a much more dynamic experience.

You can ask your agent to show you closets, or provide different angles. You can also ask them to look in the backyard or to examine certain components of the house like the foundation.

What are the Pros of Virtual Tours?

Since we’re still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, one of the perks of virtual tours for buyers is that it provides them with inherent social distancing.

Some people who might be planning a move far from their current location may not even have the option to travel right now, so virtual tours are the only way for them to conduct their search.

It’s also convenient, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

When you take a virtual tour, you don’t want to spend time traveling to the property if it’s something you’re not interested in.

Even if you don’t buy your home completely sight unseen, virtual tours can save you time in the overall process.

Virtual tours can help you get a handle on what you like and don’t like as well.

What Are the Cons of Virtual Tours?

There are downsides to virtual tours. First, you don’t get the full sensory experience of a home. It sounds silly, but homes have a “vibe” and you may feel one way or another about a space when you’re there in person. You don’t feel what the ceiling heights are as an example, or what the finishes feel like.

You’re also not getting a feel for the location if you buy a home without seeing it first. You can ask your real estate agent to provide you with information and perhaps even a virtual tour of the neighborhood, but still, it’s not the same as seeing it for yourself.

Tips for Virtual Tours

If you’re a buyer, there are some things to know going into virtual tours.

First, know what to ask your real estate agent if you’re doing a live tour. For example, remember to ask about the fundamentals like the laundry room, the garage, and the storage spaces. Have your agent show you the roof and the foundation, as well as the less glamorous parts of the house like the water heater and the furnace.

If possible, even if you aren’t going to go to the home, but you live relatively close by, try to drive around and see what you think about the neighborhood.

Finally if at all possible think of virtual tours as one part of your home buying process rather than a complete replacement. They can supplement your experience and save you time, but if you have the chance to go into the home it can help you visualize yourself there.

Message me if your thinking about buying a Fort Collins or Loveland home at m.me/EdPowersRealEstate

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Ed Powers Real Estate 970-690-3113 ed@EdPowersRealEstate.com www.EdPowersRealEstate.com

30 Year Mortgage Rates Push Lower Last Week

30 Year Mortgage Rates Push Lower Last Week

30 Year Mortgage Rates pushed lower last week reaching a new low of 2.88%, according to Freddie Mac, a government-sponsored agency that backs millions of American mortgages. Congressional gridlock over the next fiscal relief could drive rates even lower.

The limited supply of homes on the market continue to cause an obstacle to buyers looking to own a home. Credit tightening is also putting a squeeze on buyers to qualify for these record low rates.

Message me if your thinking about buying a Fort Collins or Loveland home at m.me/EdPowersRealEstate

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Ed Powers Real Estate 970-690-3113 ed@EdPowersRealEstate.com www.EdPowersRealEstate.com

How Lenders Set Mortgage Rates

Ever wonder how mortgage lenders set interest rates for their loan programs each and every business day? Wonder why some lenders quote the exact same rate for the exact same program? Maybe why one lender is lower than others? Here’s some insight on how mortgage lenders set their rates each day.

First, note that mortgage lenders set their rates on the same basic set of indices. There are some exceptions, primarily mortgage lenders who issue their own loan programs that intend to keep the loans internally and collect interest on the loan rather than selling the note.

Adjustable rate mortgages and fixed rate mortgages are priced a bit differently. An adjustable rate mortgage, or ARM, is tied to a specific, universally tradeable index, such as the 1-Year Constant Maturity Treasury. Each morning, the “secondary” departments of these mortgage companies look up the current price of an ARM index and then add a margin to it. If for example the index came in at 1.75% and the margin was set at 2.00%, the new rate for that specific program would come in at 3.75% and stay there until the next adjustment.

Fixed rate mortgages, at least for most of them, are set in another manner but also use a specific index. Currently, the index used for most fixed rate conforming loans is the Universal Mortgage Backed Security, or UMBS. This is the index lenders use when setting fixed mortgage rates scheduled to be sold to either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Okay, so if most lenders use the same index when setting fixed rates, why are they sometimes different? That can depend upon different factors. Lenders compete for mortgage business in different ways, but they all want to compete based upon a competitive rate. The rate doesn’t always have to be the lowest rate but should be in the ballpark. 

Maybe a customer has a long-lasting banking relationship with a bank and also has quite of bit of cash sitting in different checking and savings accounts. That customer might be offered an extremely competitive rate based upon loyalty of the customer as well as the amount of assets the bank holds. The rate in this instance doesn’t have to be the lowest because the borrower is focused more on trust and relationships than the rock-bottom rate.

On the flip side, for mortgage companies that don’t have such an established relationship, rates take on a more serious note. A mortgage company with less media exposure compared to established banks might need to entice a potential borrower with some very competitive mortgage rates. But again, they set their prices on the same set of indices. 

Sometimes a mortgage lender has taken an aggressive approach and priced their loans very low and suddenly their pipeline is full. They’re overbooked and overworked. Their marketing campaign is working but now their loan processing times have slowed to a crawl. It’s not unheard of for a mortgage company to raise rates temporarily to turn off the spigot. It happens. Lenders certainly want to make a profit, otherwise the mortgage market would dry up, but they want to be smart about it. 

Message me if your thinking about buying a Fort Collins or Loveland home at m.me/EdPowersRealEstate

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Ed Powers Real Estate 970-690-3113 ed@EdPowersRealEstate.com www.EdPowersRealEstate.com

What Rooms to Focus on When Flipping a House For Cheap

Create a Multifunctional Spare Room Many homes today have a spare room that tends to be slightly smaller than the others. In older homes, this room might have once been used as a sitting room to visit with guests. Newer homes often advertise this room as an office. Since the room is smaller, it is easy to do a fast renovation such as adding a fresh coat of paint. You can also upgrade the windows and add a decorative door that allows it to be used for anything from a home office to a kid’s playroom. Cook Up a Sale with a Gorgeous Kitchen Today’s modern open floor plans make it impossible to hide a poorly designed kitchen. In most cases, you can expect that the kitchen will be one of the first things that buyers will ask to see. Even when a kitchen is hidden from public view, buyers want to know that they’ll have a comfortable place to prepare meals and gather with their friends. Kitchen remodeling is a must for any time that you are flipping a house. Upgraded countertops, cabinets and floors go a long way toward getting people interested in your house. Dazzle Buyers with a Stunning Master Bathroom The master bathroom falls close to the kitchen when it comes to areas that people notice. Check out the hottest bathroom trends before you plan a remodel, and try to incorporate a few into your plans. Adding double sinks or a soaking tub will have buyers imagining themselves relaxing in the spa-like space at the end of a long, hard day. There is an art to making money as a house flipper. Learning where to save on costs and when to invest is as simple as understanding the preferences of the average buyer. When you think about it, it just makes sense to spruce up the areas of a house where people spend the most time. Choosing to upgrade a kitchen or bathroom may require a little extra work, but it can pay off by giving you a much higher profit margin in the end.

House flipping is one business where it pays to find the cheapest ways to transform a living space. Although you never want to cut corners on quality, you can cut your expenses down by focusing on renovating the rooms that really matter. Buyers today often choose homes that they know might need a little fixing up such as the garage. However, they do tend to prefer homes that already have the necessary rooms remodeled so that they can begin enjoying it right away. Focusing on these areas of the house will make it easier to flip it fast once you put it on the market.

Create a Multifunctional Spare Room

Many homes today have a spare room that tends to be slightly smaller than the others. In older homes, this room might have once been used as a sitting room to visit with guests. Newer homes often advertise this room as an office. Since the room is smaller, it is easy to do a fast renovation such as adding a fresh coat of paint. You can also upgrade the windows and add a decorative door that allows it to be used for anything from a home office to a kid’s playroom.

Cook Up a Sale with a Gorgeous Kitchen

Today’s modern open floor plans make it impossible to hide a poorly designed kitchen. In most cases, you can expect that the kitchen will be one of the first things that buyers will ask to see. Even when a kitchen is hidden from public view, buyers want to know that they’ll have a comfortable place to prepare meals and gather with their friends. Kitchen remodeling is a must for any time that you are flipping a house. Upgraded countertops, cabinets and floors go a long way toward getting people interested in your house.

Dazzle Buyers with a Stunning Master Bathroom

The master bathroom falls close to the kitchen when it comes to areas that people notice. Check out the hottest bathroom trends before you plan a remodel, and try to incorporate a few into your plans. Adding double sinks or a soaking tub will have buyers imagining themselves relaxing in the spa-like space at the end of a long, hard day.

There is an art to making money as a house flipper. Learning where to save on costs and when to invest is as simple as understanding the preferences of the average buyer. When you think about it, it just makes sense to spruce up the areas of a house where people spend the most time. Choosing to upgrade a kitchen or bathroom may require a little extra work, but it can pay off by giving you a much higher profit margin in the end.

Message me if your thinking about buying or selling a Fort Collins or Loveland home at m.me/EdPowersRealEstate

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Ed Powers Real Estate 970-690-3113 ed@EdPowersRealEstate.com www.EdPowersRealEstate.com