Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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Installing Another Hose Bib on the Side of the Home

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Having access to water through a hose bib is a convenience, so adding a water faucet in an extra location can help.



Like many homes, my house has two hose bibs. One is placed on the rear of the home towards the right side, and the other is on the left side of the home towards the front. This configuration does allow for good coverage, but I do need some long hoses. Fences block access to one area from a particular hose bib (the exterior faucet), so pretty much everything is handled behind the fence by the backyard hose bib. I am slowly creating an outdoor cooking area, and I would love to have water right in that part of the yard, but this is the rear left of the home. A fence blocks this spot off from the front, and the rear is a bit far. If I wanted to add another faucet, I could run a pipe along the left side of the home. My problem is not enough space with two drainage pipes already running in that area. This is when I wish we had basements in Houston.

    A basement would allow me to run the pipe under the home to the needed position. This would be optimal. With few basements in Houston, and many of our homes having a slab foundation, we are faced wit finding another means for an additional hose bib. In my case, I do have bathrooms inside the house near my new outdoor cooking area. I could take water from the pipes in that part of the house. Here is what I would encounter: having a new pipe go through the framing an wall or walls to deliver the water to the new faucet. This can be a big project, involving the removal of wall coverings. The solution that some homeowners have developed is running pipe from an existing hose bib to their desired spot along the exterior, and this is where, as a home inspector, I find problems.

hose bib pipe
   There are a few issues that can be seen in this photograph, but we are looking at the white PVC pipes at the base of the home. This homeowner faced a problem similar to mine; a fence blocks the path to one hose bib, and it would be easier to have one by his patio. Have you ever tried to dig down in yard with trees and Houston soil? To do this task by hand is daunting (and I have done this by hand). Machines can make life easier, but even they have to deal with thick roots. On this home, the water delivery pipe from the meter had been replaced. The trench for the pipe fell short, so the installer went above ground. Two problems come to my mind: the pipe is exposed to freezing weather which could burst the pipe; and the pipe can be damaged by yard work. Granted, we do not have the truly cold days of other parts of the country, but plumbers and lawn sprinkler firms deal with burst pipes each year. You could say that you will be careful with yard work, but accidents happen.  From the evidence I had seen, the homeowner decided to add the hose bib near his patio at the time of the new water service pipe.
    To add the pipe underground would have been hard. Considering that the water service had stopped to go above ground at one point, I think they realized what a difficult dig this could be. The installer removed the hose bib from that side of the house to add pipe to deliver water to the new faucet, while adding an extension for the original hose bib. The installer then ran the pipe along the foundation of the home. The pipe was brought up for a hose bib by the patio. We have a line full of water that can freeze during winter (this is about twenty feet of pipe). The faucet sits on a pipe that sticks up with no support. This pipe can be knocked down by a lawnmower or children playing. I would have at least found a way to stabilize it (preferably securing the pipe to a wall).
    Take the time to do the job right. My impression was that the homeowner or a handy man did this installation. There are bad contractors out there, but most of them know better. A plumber can be expensive on a job like this one, but they would do the job correctly. This home did have the hose bibs in odd locations when you consider the fence, so maybe the owner was correct to go after this new bib, but he could have made due. That is what I am going to do on my own home. My outdoor cooking area is not an affixed feature, so if I sell the home, I would have an extra hose bib without a purpose. That is a factor to mull over. I plan to be in my home a long time, but eventually, this home will be sold. If you are running pipe outside, you do want it to be underground. Two feet may be a good depth for the Houston area. Then you will want the pipe to be secure to a wall when it comes up above ground. However, before you start this job, ask if it is necessary. Digging down, even with a trench digger, can be a hard task. I guess that a rule for home project such as this one is “does this add value?” If you feel that it does, then go ahead with your plans.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States
713.781.6090

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