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  1. #1
    Amanda Haas's Avatar
    Amanda Haas Guest

    Question First time home buyer with questions

    I am a first time home buyer of a home with a history of pipes bursting, according to neighbors. No evidence of water damage is found within the home at this time. The house has been sitting empty for over 4 years. All utilites were cut off from the street because former owner did not pay. The electric and gas have been turned on in my name. However I am nervous because what I have been told about the pipes from the neighbors. My questions are:
    1. Should I be worried about water damage when water is turned on? I have not signed or given any money to current owner.
    2. Will the private inspector be checking for this problem during the inspection? Will the city inspector look for this as well?
    3. If the pipes did burst, and no evidence of water is found, does that mean that the pipes were fixed?
    Nervous and would like to know what to expect out of the inspectors as well.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    How old is the house?

    If there is no water on the plumbing system, the inspector cannot check for leaks.

    If water is on the plumbing system, there may be no leaks at the time of the inspection, but leak may occur at anytime later ... especially in a house with a history of leaks.

    I ask about the age of the house because it may have polyethylene - PB - piping (or had in the past and has since been re-piped with another material).

    If the house has PB piping, yes, there could be more leaks. If the house has been re-piped ... entirely ... re-piped with something else, then the risk of leaks is reduced to the material used for the re-piping.

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

  3. #3
    Amanda Haas's Avatar
    Amanda Haas Guest

    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    1924
    After looking under sinks, toliets, etc. the piping looks brand new. The owner does not seem concerned about water being turned on which leads me to believe that everything is okay.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Santa Rosa, CA
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    2,479

    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Amanda Haas View Post
    I am a first time home buyer of a home with a history of pipes bursting, according to neighbors. No evidence of water damage is found within the home at this time. The house has been sitting empty for over 4 years. All utilites were cut off from the street because former owner did not pay. The electric and gas have been turned on in my name. However I am nervous because what I have been told about the pipes from the neighbors. My questions are:
    1. Should I be worried about water damage when water is turned on? I have not signed or given any money to current owner.
    2. Will the private inspector be checking for this problem during the inspection? Will the city inspector look for this as well?
    3. If the pipes did burst, and no evidence of water is found, does that mean that the pipes were fixed?
    Nervous and would like to know what to expect out of the inspectors as well.
    Hi Amanda,

    There is going to be some limit as to how much we are going to be able to help you since there is no indication as to where you are geographically.

    It sounds like you have cause for concern. Yes, it is possible that a leak will become apparent once the utility has been turned-on. Some causes for burst piping can be poor workmanship, freezing temperatures and defective materials.

    If the water is on, the inspector is likely going to be looking for active leaks and other signs of past leaks. You should inform the inspector of your concerns and knowledge of the problems so he can be particularly aware of this. Still, an inspector is not going to be able to see everywhere and everything. Having the water on at least 48 hours prior to the inspection is going to give slow leaks time to make themselves apparent. However, turning the water on might be risky, given the apparent history of the home.

    I do not know what the city inspector will be looking for. In my area, city inspections are primarily an income generating process. They look for unpermitted remodel and similar work.

    No way to know if the pipes were correctly repaired. If the supply piping is a defective material, then it cannot be repaired, it would have to be replaced.

    The first thing I would do is ask the seller for information regarding past repairs. In many cases, the houses are bank-owned and the bank knows nothing.

    Next, I would go to the city building department to see if any permits were pulled, particularly plumbing.

    Finally, I would strongly advise you to hire a licensed plumbing contractor to assess the plumbing in the home. A home inspector can do a lot, but he/she is not a plumbing contractor and does not have the level of expertise that a plumbing contractor would have.

    If the leaking was significant, there is a possibility of mold hidden within walls. You might also want to have an industrial hygienist check the air quality as well.

    Hope this helps.

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

  5. #5
    Amanda Haas's Avatar
    Amanda Haas Guest

    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    I thought that my profile showed my location. But it is Michigan, Wayne County. The information was extremely helpful especially the city inspection bit. My realtor told me the exact same information. So I feel even more comfortable that he is not feeding me BS. When the water is turned on he will be there, more than likely myself, and his maintence person because even though I am not the owner I do not want to see this house ruined. Thank you again for your help everyone.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Amanda Haas View Post
    1924
    Ah ... built in 1924, probably galvanized piping, with pin-hole leaks popping through the piping all the time ... then the owner had the house re-piped.

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

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Oregon, USA
    Posts
    333

    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    Amanda,

    Here's a suggestion. When you arrive at the house, check the water meter reading (whether older dial or newer analog). Then check it at least a few hours later--if it's the same, that tells you there aren't any current (significant) leaks. But still no guarantee as to what might happen in the future.

    If the place's supply and drain lines were all completely replaced with acceptable materials, you should be in good shape. Still no guarantee, but at least a reasonable comfort level.

    I owned a place in NM, 20+ years old, with copper supply lines, and a year after I sold it, I had a phone call from the buyer's agent. She wanted to know why I hadn't disclosed (on the seller's disclosure) that there had been previous plumbing issues. I told her the truth, that in my 5 years there I hadn't experienced any plumbing leaks. She then said the current owner (her buyer) just recently had to shell out $1200 to repair a plumbing supply line leak, embedded in the living room floor. House on a concrete slab, with fancy floor tile on top, not easy to repair. The Realtor had the nerve to ask me if I'd be willing to pay for part of the repair cost (!?!?!). Not sure what she was smokin'.

    Fix the poroblems, and move on. Guess I dodged a bullet.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    Well that water is going to need to be turned on sooner or later, might as well do it before the home inspector gets to the house. I would have the owner turn the water on and let them worry about any leaks that might show up.

    You need 2-3 folks to turn the water on. One at the meter to turn it on (and off if needed), and one or two in the house to listen and look for leaks. If no major leaks are discovered then return to the meter after the WH has filled and see if the meter dial is showing any signs of movement, if it is then you have a leak somewhere.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  9. #9
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
    Darrel Hood Guest

    Default Re: First time home buyer with questions

    The key point in the advice posted is to have the water turned on for a significant period of time, while the other person is the owner. Put the risk, if any, on them, not you. Also, talk more with the neighbors to see if the leak history had anything to do with frozen pipes or if it just happened randomly. If it was frozen pipes, ya pays ya money and takes ya chances until a hard freeze or two.


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