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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Maryland
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    Default turning service back on

    Many of us home inspectors will not turn water mains and main breakers on that were found in the off position at the time of an inspection. We all know that liability issues could arise from problems associated with turning things back on.

    How about plumbers and electricians? Do they use disclaimers or release forms before they turn systems back on? How is anyone going to totally protect themselves from liability of damages caused by energizing systems?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
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    4,170

    Default Re: turning service back on

    John, I think the key is the person that turned off the service needs to turn it back on.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Melbourne, FL
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    180

    Default Re: turning service back on

    Wow, that really brings up some special liabilities; but how do you serve the client if you don't turn on the systems by the use of normal shutoff/on means? Don't our associations or state licensing require us to use normal means to inspect systems? Common sense would require us to turn on the electricity or water by normal means as long as we make every effert to insure there are no extenuating circumstances. Many times the electricity is shut off due to delinqincy and is only available for inspection purpose as is the water. Don't turn on any thing unless there is someone there with athority ie. realtor, sellor, god. As responsable inspectors we need to use good judgment if you just don't turn on the systems you will go out of business because you haven't done your job. I take chances every day like accessing a roof or opening an electrical panel box - just part of the deel take it or leave it inspecting is good stuff - you can get a safer job but not more interesting.

    Thomas W. McKay
    ASHI Certified Inspector


  4. #4
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: turning service back on

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    Many of us home inspectors will not turn water mains and main breakers on that were found in the off position at the time of an inspection. We all know that liability issues could arise from problems associated with turning things back on.

    How about plumbers and electricians? Do they use disclaimers or release forms before they turn systems back on? How is anyone going to totally protect themselves from liability of damages caused by energizing systems?
    I turn on water and electric all the time. Water being at the main and the electric being at the main breaker.

    Everyone thinks I am nuts but so be it. I never rewinerize but I will dewinterize. Of course it is hardly ever cold enough here to make a difference but if it is going to freeze I won't do such. In those cases I will ask everhything be on no matter what.

    Chances...sure. Liability for what. As you say John an electrician will come, take a quick look around and snapp, on goes the electric. Failed while testing is a good phrase to use if something goes wrong.

    Water? I usually wait till the termite folks get at the home and listen and watch while I turn the water on.

    For those that think I am breaking the law...not. I am not cutting a lock I am just turning the water on. If it was turned off by the city it would be locked out and in the worse case the meter will be gone all together.

    This is discussed only about 5 times a year and it will be answered that you are nuts to do so all the way to go ahead...why not.

    To each his own. Have I got a carpet or two wet in the past...yep. No one is living there anyway. If the meter has the proper tag on it and it is not pulled and turned and nothing looks fried in the panel and a quick walk around the home shows no signs of "Danger Will Robertson" Hit the main. These items were turned off not shut down for safety if that was the case then the meter would have been pulled. If the water was off by the city the meter shut off would be locked out or the meter just not there.

    I am not talking about abandon homes. I am talking of homes that were winterized...in my climate only and I already discussed that. Cold weather climates I would think twice or three times about turning water on unless they already have the heat on. These are true liability problems. Even shutting the water off when you are done leaves water in all the traps and water lines. Then it should be dewinterized and then rewinterized afterward.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Atlanta, Georgia
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    1,078

    Default Re: turning service back on

    Quote Originally Posted by John Dirks Jr View Post
    Many of us home inspectors will not turn water mains and main breakers on that were found in the off position at the time of an inspection. We all know that liability issues could arise from problems associated with turning things back on.

    How about plumbers and electricians? Do they use disclaimers or release forms before they turn systems back on? How is anyone going to totally protect themselves from liability of damages caused by energizing systems?
    I think the difference between a tradesperson and an inspector is the tradesperson usually will have tools and supplies in their truck to patch or repair any damage caused by turning on their specific system. They are there for the express purpose of repairing or maintaining that system and are expected to have sufficient expertise, equipment and materials to make it function.

    A home inspector is only there to test it. I do not normally bring along a pipe cutter, crimper, rings, fittings, extra pipe, etc. to repair damaged plumbing systems. I doubt that tradespeople have contracts, only invoices for repair costs.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
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    4,086

    Default Re: turning service back on

    With regards to the plumbing system, especially of a REO which has been "winterized" (questionably or not), or if service has been disconnected/off for any time period of non-occupancy, I always recommend a licensed plumber come out and perform pressure testing prior to service being restored. In the case of a private water supply, I further recommend the entire potable system be sanitized and flushed prior to home inspection and especially prior to occupancy.

    More and more often homes having periods of non-occupancy, especially foreclosures/deeds-in-lieu tend to have some stripping of materials, seems any metals and especially copper are the first to go after major appliances, irrespective of the value/quality of the neighborhood. In the last many months as scrap prices have come down, more and more of the intentional destruction seems to have been done by the former occupants, facing eviction/foreclosure taking "revenge" on the lender by intentionally sabotaging/damaging the property.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Memphis TN.
    Posts
    4,311

    Default Re: turning service back on

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    .
    I turn on water and electric all the time.
    .
    Water being at the main and the electric being at the main breaker.

    Everyone thinks I am nuts but so be it. .
    .
    Ted, Ted, Ted,
    .

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  8. #8
    mathew stouffer's Avatar
    mathew stouffer Guest

    Default Re: turning service back on

    This has been a huge issue as of late. You run into the short sales and the bank gives the buyer 72hrs for E&I. So you show up and the utilities are off and you don't have time to do the inspection another day. What I do is have the agent contact the bank and send me an email with permission to turn on the utilities. Works great and you have it in writing. Only one place has been flooded thus far


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Mesa AZ
    Posts
    1,181

    Default Re: turning service back on

    I turn them on, and watch the water meter before going in the home.
    After I'm done I make sure they are turned off, and state in my report, the power, water was off at start of the inspection, I turned them on during the inspection, and turned them off at the end of the inspection.

    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

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