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Plumbing Upgrades

Homebuyers and sellers often hear about “plumbing upgrades”, but what does this mean? Generally speaking, upgrading plumbing in the context of buying or selling a home refers to both fixtures and/or the plumbing system itself. Here are some basics to consider when referring to plumbing upgrades.


In bathrooms and kitchens, the faucet fixtures are an easy upgrade that adds style without spending a lot. If a home is being prepped for sale, the best bet is to use fixtures that will appeal to the most potential buyers – choose a basic finish and design that isn’t too specialized. The idea is not necessarily to draw attention to the faucets, but to demonstrate that the fixtures are modern and in good condition.

Toilets are another simple upgrade that will also have a positive effect on how the home is perceived. If space allows, an elongated bowl and a high-profile height are smart changes to make. A neutral color that works with the existing tile and walls is best.

A shower upgrade can be as basic as adding a handheld shower unit to the existing setup. Another effective upgrade is to install a “rain”-type shower head, which are becoming more popular in new homes. Also consider a thermostatic valve for the shower, which prevents scalding while the shower is running.


Lately there has been a growing trend to replace the water pipes in older homes, especially with the younger generation of home buyers, which have much higher expectations than before. This is especially true with pre 1950 properties.

During this process, all water supply lines in the home are replaced. The pipe from the water main to the house (water service entrance) is frequently upgraded to a larger size as well. During renovations it also makes good sense to replace the old galvanized and iron drainage pipes as well, with ABS plastic pipe to reduce the potential of future leakage.

Over time, original galvanized steel water supply pipes degenerate, increasing the potential for leaks, reduced water flow and water pressure. Rust gradually builds-up inside these pipes, reducing their inside diameter and plugging them up. The taste and appearance of water can also be adversely affected. Many downtown homes still have old lead water service entrance pipes from the early 1900s, which are less subject to corrosion, but pose a health hazard for children. Old drain pipes made from steel or iron have served us well, but rust and corrosion is gradually taking its toll.

Typically, replacement water supply piping has been made from copper, but PEX plastic pipe is making in-roads due to ease of installation and low cost. The best material to use depends on a number of factors. Homeowners should always seek out the opinions of several contractors before making the important – and not inexpensive – decision to repipe the home. Your Pillar To Post home inspector can provide additional information on plumbing upgrades as well.

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