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  1. #1
    Paul Tooley's Avatar
    Paul Tooley Guest

    Default I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Actually, while going through the garage and describing the water heater to my client, I pointed out the wet and stained plywood deck the water heater was setting on, the fungus and moisture staining below the pipe extension for the TPRV, the rust line stain on the little pressure tank above the water heater, and strangely enough, the water staining and fungus on the ceiling above the pressure tank. I explained further that the staining on the tank was indicative of a possible leak. Because I could not see the area in question, even with my mirror, I carefully slid my hand along the top of the tank and brushed off the rust wart that was holding everything in. Old faithful erupted with a small but powerful jet that, again strangely enough, hit in the same area of the ceiling as the stains and fungus. I shut off the water to the water heater, shut off the main house supply in the hall closet, explained what had happened to the client and also told her how simply replacing the tank (available at the local home depot) would fix the old faithful issue.
    I told the buyer's agent that she needed to call the listing agent and explain what had happened and what I did as a result. I also left a note for the owner with my cell number to contact me with any questions (this was my biggest fear, but the client had no problem with it).
    Before I had left the house, I informed the client and agent that I would gladly return to finish the inspection of the plumbing when the leak was fixed, gratis. I left a note to the owner explaining what I did /found and that the water had been turned off. I also had to explain to the buyer's daughter, a paint contractor and two HVAC contractors what had happened. I also had to convnce the HVAC guys not to try any "caulk or duct tape" repairs. Oh yeah, I placed my hand-towel on the tank to stop the spray and turn it into a stream, and I rummaged around and found a beach pail to catch the water (emptied twice before I finally left).

    Half an hour after I left, I get a voicemail saying " my name is blah blah, you inspected my house, call me at..." After several traded voicemails (his phone is set up to go straight to VM) I managed to chat with him. He jumped in with both feet and said that his neighbor called him and told him that "the inspector boke your water heater and left the water running in the garage so that there was water running out the garage door. I had to turn it off". When I tried to expain my bafflement at this, He told me that if his water heater was broken and he couldn't take a shower when he got home, he was gonna call the cops on me. I politely informed him that he should first contact his agent because he/she had been informed at least two hours prior about the situation. He said a few beligerant things and hung up.

    when he got home (yeah he was yelling at me without seeing anything yet) he called again and asked If I was going to send someone over to fix his pressure tank (suddenly the water heater wasn't broken), I said No, I am not, he asked if my name was the same one as the one on the note I left for him, I said yes, and he hung up again.

    A few hours later, the buyer's agent called and said that things had calmed a bunch. She said that the neighbor may have caused some additional problems after they left. The neighbor had come over and tried to "fix" things while the agent and the buyer were still there. He came over when he saw the agent emptying the bucket for the third time. Evidently, after the agent and buyer left, he went in, saw my note to the owner, called him and told him that I left things out of control and that HE had to turn the water off.

    Besides the seller acting the role fo the village idiot, I cannot figure out why the pressure tank did not stop spewing after I shut the main off. In this area, there is a main shutoff in or under the house, in addition to the one at the meter (which we never touch :}) I checked all the faucets throughout the house and had no pressure, but water still streamed from the pinhole in the tank. Near as I can tell, either the water heater was fed pre-shutoff or the bladder in the tank was expanding and would eventually stop spewing.

    Dayyyyuuuuummmm, what a day

    Similar Threads:
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  2. #2
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Did you shut off the water heater also?


  3. #3
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    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Two story house? Draining down the pipes above.

    Pin hole? Could have just been pressure bleeding out for some time (although you did say you emptied that small bucket twice - so I doubt this is the cause).

    Expansion tank? It would pressurize the system until the pressure in the expansion tank dropped to a neutral point.

    ????

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
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    Smile Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    If this is a diaphragm tank, there is air pressure behind the diaphragm. Once the water pressure drops, the pressure behind the bladder is greater than the water so it presses against the water until it equalizes. Pressure tanks should have independent shutoff valves for just this reason.

    Lesson learned: take pics documenting valves shutoff and how things were left.

    In future posts, I recommend you don't admit you broke or damaged something, even in jest. Sound like an admission of guilt. You can say someone tried to blame you for years of neglect or abuse. Pre-existing damage. Another lesson--always take a pic before touching anything.
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  5. #5
    Gary Schutta's Avatar
    Gary Schutta Guest

    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    You have learned a valuable lesson. When you see one those little rusted bumps on a pipe avoid touching it. I have been inspecting for 30 years. This brings back memories of my early years in being too curious. Isn't inspecting fun, all kinds of traps waiting for you to fall into. I remember several years ago an Inspector being sued for damage to a home. The seller used all the photo's the Inspector took for his report against him. Photo's of rotted wood with the inspectors probe stuck in all these areas. Clearly the inspector was causing damage as the court ruled.

    Walk softly and carry a big insurance policy.

    Gary


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
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    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Gary,

    Evidently that inspector did not have good legal representation.

    Rotten wood is already damaged and an inspector sticking a probe into it to identify the problem is not wrong. Taking out a pick and screwdriver and probing to the point of leaving a large gaping hole is not needed.


  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Rockwall Texas
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    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Paul,

    I know your grief. Just a couple a months ago, I found a water heater leaking at a cold water supply joint and was spraying water onto the attic insulation below.

    The cold water shut-off valve was seized up so I decided to shut off the water at the service meter as most would do.

    I left a note as you mentioned, but this idiot comes home and calls me asking how are they going to cook dinner without any water. I told them to go to KFC if needed, but they needed a plumber.

    Document everything with pictures if you can.


  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Just like Mom said, "Don't pick at scabs".

    Why pick at the rust - you already know what is behind it?
    JF


  9. #9
    David Banks's Avatar
    David Banks Guest

    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Why pick at the rust - you already know what is behind it?
    JF

    Yea but looks great in the pic! Proves the point.


  10. #10
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
    Richard Rushing Guest

    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    Naaaah. You didn't break anything.

    This has to be a lesson learned though. Always take pictures BEFORE touching anything-- Especially where you stated;

    QUOTE: "Actually, while going through the garage and describing the water heater to my client, I pointed out the wet and stained plywood deck the water heater was setting on, the fungus and moisture staining below the pipe extension for the TPRV, the rust line stain on the little pressure tank above the water heater, and strangely enough, the water staining and fungus on the ceiling above the pressure tank."

    The staining and fungus tells EVERYONE IN THE WORLD that is was a pre-existing condition. The seller had to have known-- Had to!

    Just another attempt to hide a pre-existing condition that the sellers hoped would fly right by and have the buyers deal with.

    Rich


  11. #11
    Paul Tooley's Avatar
    Paul Tooley Guest

    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    thanks all. The owner actually told me, before he got home that he had better be able to take his regular hot shower or he was going to call the cops on me. he also told me that nothing was broken when he left for work in the morning. then he said some beligerant words and hung up.

    As for pictures, I did take some before shots of the fungal farms (blue, yellow, red and black below the tprv - orange speckly hangers-on on the ceiling.) The wet rust stains on the side of the little pressure tank were also noted and photo'd.

    you are all right, though. never again do the touchy feely with all the visual evidence. I have already been told by the buyers agent that the owner does not want me to complete the report - the bathrooms were not inspected because there was no water.. sigh...


  12. #12
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    Smile pre-inspection threat

    Danged if I'm going into someone's home who threatens me before they even meet me or I get there. That tells me he has issues and is looking for a patsy. Life's too short....
    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

  13. #13
    Join Date
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    Default Re: I broke somebodies water heater (sorry, long rant)

    The ASHI SOP, which I operate under, says that for structural components, the inspector may probe where deterioration is suspected or where clear indications of possible deterioration exist. I apply this to other areas that I look at. Many times I have found corrosion on a furnace or water heater vent connector and reasonable probing "produced" a hole. The way I look at it, I'm paid to find this stuff.

    As already mentioned, such efforts must be not to cause damage but to find it. If you're concerned about the seller's wrath, then perhaps probing is not for you. I don't take responsibility for someone else's neglect and not likely I'll get talked into paying for it.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

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