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  1. #1
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    Mar 2007
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    Smile Anyone else saing no thanks

    Twice now I have said no I won't turn on the water to do your inspection.
    Yesterday I was asked to do an inspection on a bank owned home being sold as is. It's winterized and the bank won't turn the water on. The realtor told the buyer to have me turn it on, she said all inspectors will do that.
    I won't and didn't get the inspection. Are any of you folks turning on the utilities, is it just me ?

    AHIT InspectIt Home Report

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Rockwall Texas
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    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Years ago in our area, inspectors started turning on the water at the meter to perform the inspection.

    Granted one must go through the house to check and make sure all the fixtures are off before turning on the water.

    I do and will occasionally turn on the water if needed but will only do so after checking for obvious signs that leakage might be possible. If I see any evidence of prior leakage, I won't turn it on.

    I don't have the time to run out to an inspection and then just walk away because the water is off. Time is money, and money is time.

    It comes down to a personal choice. Some won't do it, and many do.

    rick


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Healdsburg, CA
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    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Turning on a home's utilities that are off when you arrive is like driving after having a bit to much to drink, sooner or later...........

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Check with the local city water dept. Some city in calif have a $ 500.00 FINE for anyone that turns on the water. This is due to people turning the valve the wrong way. (snap we got a problem). Then the city has to shut down the water system and cut open the street and fix the mess.

    If it's off walk away.

    Best

    Ron


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Santa Rosa, CA
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    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Both Rick's and Jerry Mc's statements are valid. In my area of CA, there are very few homes that are "winterized" because it just does not get cold enough. But, occasionally the water is off. I do as Rick does and have only had a problem once when a toilet supply valve leaked unnoticed for nearly an hour and water worked its way through the kitchen ceiling.

    The biggest problem that I have with "winterized" homes is the dimwits that use the toilet even though the lid is taped and labeled. Yuck

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  6. #6
    Jon Randolph's Avatar
    Jon Randolph Guest

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    I know that will get some disagreements from this, but here goes...
    I have a repair business along side of my inspection business and have for a fairly large additional fee ($125), have de-winterized homes in preparation for the home inspection. This is performed as contract work under the repair business name, not the inspection business. I do require a signed statement from all associated with the property that I am authorized to perform such actions and I always pressurize the water lines with compressed air to verify their integrity before I will turn it on. I notify all of the involved parties that even if the supply lines are ok and the water is turned on, there still may be issues with the drain lines that may not be discovered until water has been run through them and I would not be responsible for an item or damage occuring from an item that fails under normal testing procedures. (normal testing procedure for drain lines is to run water through them)

    I have a fairly detailed procedure that I follow and if I am not satisfied with the pressure test, I do not turn the water on (in which case I charge for pressure testing only). In freezing temps, I require that the home be re-winterized for another additional fee or I will not do the de-winterization unless the heat has been turned (and will be left) on and the seller (usually bank, VA, or HUD) agrees that it can be left as is.


    If they are not willing to pay that fee, I pressure check the lines and charge $20.00, but let them know that I can not check the drain lines. This is a safe alternative when the water is not and will not be turned on and I have actually got business because I do provide this service.


  7. #7

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    In Illinois most homes are winterized and the meter is disconnected. This does not mean that damaged did not occurred prior to winterizing. Pipes can be check with pressure but I will NEVER be the one to turn on the water.

    I was in a home that all the copper pipes were cracked from freezing what a mess, so no thanks I will not turn it on.

    Steve Reilly
    OWL Inspection Services


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Reilly View Post
    In Illinois most homes are winterized and the meter is disconnected. This does not mean that damaged did not occurred prior to winterizing. Pipes can be check with pressure but I will NEVER be the one to turn on the water.

    I was in a home that all the copper pipes were cracked from freezing what a mess, so no thanks I will not turn it on.

    Steve Reilly
    OWL Inspection Services
    What Steve said. I had an inspection just like this a few years ago where the realtor decided he would turn the water on. When he came upstairs from the basement and saw water coming through the living room ceiling, he realized opening the main was not a great idea. Some hot water heating pipes hadn't been properly drained and froze and burst. It damaged about 2 different ceilings, walls, and warped the hardwood floor in the living room.

    Turn the water on if you want but don't say you weren't warned.............and keep your checkbook handy.


  9. #9
    Jon Randolph's Avatar
    Jon Randolph Guest

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Reilly View Post
    In Illinois most homes are winterized and the meter is disconnected.

    Usually winterized with the meter removed in Indiana too.


    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Reilly View Post
    I was in a home that all the copper pipes were cracked from freezing what a mess, so no thanks I will not turn it on.
    That is why I push pressure testing the lines, even if I don't de-winterize. You don't need to have a compressor, only a pressure tank. Close all of the faucets, hose bibs and water heater drain valves and bungee the toilet floats up. At a 2000 sq/ft. 2 bath home, an 11 gallon tank will pressurize the entire system to about 25 psi if I start with 120 psi on the tank. Of course this does not represent actual working pressure, but that is disclosed. Fairly quick $20, either they hold pressure or they don't and the water does not come on with this pressure check.

    Should I de-winterize, I psi check the lines with a compressor to 75 psi. and I verify air pressure at all faucets, toilets and hose bibs. Lack of air at any location indicates an ice blockage (in the winter of course) and possible leak, so the water does not come on.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Knoxville, TN
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    2,330

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Here is what I do...
    Even though I have asked my client to make sure the utilities are on for the inspection, sometimes they are not.
    We call the listing agent to find out why they are not on. If they tell us it's OK to turn them on, we then...

    go through the house and make sure all of the obvious faucets are off (laundry rooms especially. I also turn off the water supply to the water heater. I also carry a cap for ice maker lines. Turn the meter on slowly and watch it spin. I usually ask my client to be in the house listening for any water running. The toilets will usually fill up pretty fast.

    If there is a leak, we shut it off. If not, we go in and open up the water heater valve and fill the tank.

    I really don't like walking away from a job, because I will lose money, even if I charge a come-back fee. I still lose. If I can do the inspection, I will do it.

    I have found split pipes and turned the water off, and did the rest of the inspection.

    I also make it very clear to the listing agent that I am not going to re-winterize the house - that's up the them. I'm turning on the water (per their OK), and turning it off at the meter when I'm done.

    Some times my client has had to pay to get the water turned on, and then to re-winterize it. Sometimes the owner covers the cost.

    As hard as we try to make sure the utilities are on for the inspection, there are still times when the listing agent, or owner, just don't follow through or drop the ball.

    JF


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    I had another inspection a few years ago where the property was supposed to have been dewinterized. This one was fully winterized with the water meter disconnected in the basement so it involved more than just closing fixtures and opening the main. We went through the inspection and at the end, the realtor said he was going to get his "guy" who could dewinterize the system. The buyer left and I waited. Ten minutes later, the realtor came back with his "guy" which happened to be himself, a pipe wrench, and a roll of teflon tape. I told him if anything goes wrong, I wasn't here. He attached the meter, turned on the water, and sprayed the basement through a hole in a pipe. End of experiment.


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    gainesville fl
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    122

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    I had one where there was no water flow on the hot side, I looked and the old gate valve at the water heater was off, I told the client this and that I would not be able to test completely. Well the Realtor puffed his chest out and said that was just nonsense, to which he proceeded to turn on the water at the heater. I only wish that I had thought to take his picture as he stood there with the the top of the gate valve in his hand and water going every where in the laundry room. Fortunately for the Realtor I carry a street key and went out and turned off the meter. He did not even say thank you. The client was in a back room rolling on the floor.
    Some people just don't listen.


  13. #13
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
    Jim Zborowski Guest

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    I myself do not turn on utilities. Where I'm at, the utility companies impose a severe fine for unauthorized people doing so. In addition, you never know what may happen when they are turned on, as in one case I had where a bank officer turned off the water but left the burner in the water heater lit. Needless to say, the second it filled with cold water, it cracked. If I need to go back ater the utilities are turned on, I charge a hundred dolar minimum for a return trip, which they are told ahead of time will happen if utilities are not on.


  14. #14
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    He who winterizes the house dewinterizes the house or I do not inspect it.

    1. If the water is merely off at the meter I will, under most circumstances, turn it on with the listing agent's or owner's approval in writing. Or, if the buyer is willing to take the plunge, I will allow them to turn it on. Not my problem.

    2. If the electric meter has been pulled or blocked, it stays that way.

    3. If the gas meter is just turned off, see number 1. If the utility company has plugged it, it stays plugged.

    I make it clear to all concerned that the rules are what they are and the inspection goes forward accordingly. Fees are paid as if the utilities were on. Period. No exceptions.

    Aaron


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ingleside Illinois
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    118

    Default Re: Anyone else saying no thanks

    Thanks all for the input, looks like the verdict is split with some turning them on and some not. In my case the utility that needed to be turned on was only the water and it was a well not public.

    Yes I could have turned it on but felt the bank selling the home was responsible since they had the place winterized. The bonehead agent was well aware of who should turn on the water but since she wasn't going to be there (gave the code to the buyer) she didn't care. When I asked the buyer to have the agent give me a call they said they would however didn't happen. Hopefully the home was inspected.


  16. #16
    Brian Cooper's Avatar
    Brian Cooper Guest

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    I don't turn it on. Especially in the winter, because the power is usally off so there is no heat. I don't need that additional liability.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Fredericksburg, VA
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    880

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    My gripe with "Winterization" in this area is in a lot of houses someone decided that they needed to open the TPR valves on water heaters and boilers. I have yet had one to not leak when closed. Leak meaning a constant small stream to wide open. And some guys (inspectors) ask why I carry a mop in the back of the truck.

    The above statements are expressed solely as my opinion and in all probability will conflict with someone else's.
    Stu, Fredericksburg VA

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ingleside Illinois
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    118

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Carrying a mop ! I never thought of that, another good idea. Could have used one a couple times to mop up the bottom of vanities that leak when the valves under the sink leak.


  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Healdsburg Ca
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    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Mary maids.

    Best

    Ron


  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    I always ask if all utilities are on. If the water is off I require it be turned on 24 hours before I do any inspection. That way any small leaks will show up. I will turn on the water if the buyer or agent sign a release that I have releasing me of all liability. I have a return fee I charge to come back if utilities are not on.

    Tom


  21. #21
    Eric Russell's Avatar
    Eric Russell Guest

    Default Re: Anyone else saing no thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    He who winterizes the house dewinterizes the house or I do not inspect it.

    1. If the water is merely off at the meter I will, under most circumstances, turn it on with the listing agent's or owner's approval in writing. Or, if the buyer is willing to take the plunge, I will allow them to turn it on. Not my problem.

    2. If the electric meter has been pulled or blocked, it stays that way.

    3. If the gas meter is just turned off, see number 1. If the utility company has plugged it, it stays plugged.

    I make it clear to all concerned that the rules are what they are and the inspection goes forward accordingly. Fees are paid as if the utilities were on. Period. No exceptions.

    Aaron
    That's the way I do it Aaron. If the utilities are off, it is noted in the inspection. For a fee, I will come back and inspect the system(s) that were shut down. I turn nothing on that is off. I let the buyer's agent know, and they make the arrangements with the listing agent to get 'em on. Then I go back. Lest they forget, we gotta get back in the report and make additions, in addition to the return trip to the house. How much? I've got a flat rate of $100 plus mileage, which is $0.50 per.


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