You don't have to be a plumber to notice things that you should have some concern about. Both buyers and sellers should be able to spot potential problems, and buyers should ask their home inspector about them. I'd bet that many buyers and sellers don't even know what this is in the above photos, but I bet most can figure out it has something to do with plumbing.
This is a manifold for a Pex system. It has a hot side and a cold side. A water line is run from the manifold to each faucet. The small levers are for turning the water off and on for each independent line. If I want to change kitchen faucet, I just shut off the hot and cold lines that run to the kitchen faucet, and nothing else in the house is affected.
On the left side above, that is the front of the manifold. At first glance, it looks ok. Sellers say they have never had a problem with it. But look closer and you'll see signs of potential problems. At the top, you see corrosion around the copper fittings and on top of the manifold. Also notice that the bolt heads are rusted. If you had gone down each side of manifold, you would have seen evidence of leaking at some of the connections. The rust stains and corrosion on some of the threads indicate that. At the bottom, notice the rust and corrosion on the bolts. All signs of leaks.
Now, what the seller, buyer, or home inspector can't see is the back side of the manifold. Again, starting at top, and going down. There is some corrosion on the copper pipes. The top mounting bracket is rusted. The three long bolts that run from top to bottom that hold manifold together are all rusted. Note the one on left is rusted from top to bottom. The middle bolt has some rust at top, middle, and bottom. And the bolt on right has rust in middle and at bottom. All signs of potential water leaks. Also, the bottom mounting bracket is rusted.
So if you are buying a home with a Pex system, take the time to thoroughly inspect the manifold and the pipe connections to the manifold. On the bright side, if a new manifold is needed, the cost should be around $500.00 - $700.00 for parts and labor to replace it. Letting it go, and then coming home to find your basement flooded will probably cost you a lot more than $700.00
Items like this are also why every first time homebuyer should have a home inspection!
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