Water, water everywhere: Do you know how to de-winterrize?
As more REO properties are sold this winter, buyers need to have info on de-winterization. Liz Lockhart shares some great advice for buyers on the process.
If you need assistance with real estate, call Karen at Haralson Realty, 770-574-9221 or 678-521-3585 (cell)
Chances are that you have never had a house winterized, unless you are an REO agent. You may, however, have SOLD an REO property. Knowing a little about winterization and de-winterization is a must in the current market. Knowing a "little," however, does not preclude needing a plumber!
Winterization is not simply turning off the water and pouring anti-freeze in drains. Proper winterization also involves forcing pressurized air through the pipes to clear out any standing water. Not all water lines will drain when water is turned off.
Lateral lines, for instance, often do not drain completely; and a frozen lateral line can do more damage than a vertical line running through an exterior wall. The lateral line may run all across the ceiling in one or more rooms. An example of such a line is one that goes from the hot water heater on one end of the house to upstairs bathrooms the other end of the upper level. Imagine the collapsed, water-soaked ceilings that would follow, if such a line bursts. Forcing pressurize air through the line is the only way to be sure the water is out of the line.
De-winterization is best done by a qualified plumber familiar with the process, NOT THE NEW HOMEOWNER. Just this week, I received a phone call from a distraught agent whose client had been told by the water department that all she had to do in her winterized home was "turn on the cut-off valve in the house." BAD ADVICE.
Here's why: All faucets are opened when the pressurized air is forced through the system during winterization. That allows the water to escape. Though the system's ability to hold pressure is tested first with faucets closed, the faucets MUST be open during the final step. They are then left in the open position to minimize damage in case the water main drips additional water into the system. The main shut-off valve is then left in the closed position. NOTE: You cannot count on that valve still being closed, however, because sometimes agents or buyers will open the valve in an attempt to turn on the water in a winterized house. Before you have the water department turn on water, be sure the valve is off.
Two areas often over-looked by homeowners trying to do their own de-winterization are the laundry area and the hot water heater. While most folks can tell right away that the faucets in sinks are running, they may not think of the laundry faucets that are spewing water directly into the house, rather into a sink. The hot water heater has two parts that need to be closed--the drain faucet at the bottom and the pop-off valve at the top. It's best to wait until the heater is full before closing the top valve.
Joints, seals, and valves that have been waterless for months often have leaks. Once water is flowing through all parts of the house, it is also a good idea to test the water-tightness of the drain system. A leaky tub drain, for instance, is only obvious when water is going through it.
You NEED a qualified plumber, so make the appointment!
Agents: I'm not a lawyer and not pretending to be one, but I am an REO agent who learned some lessons the hard way (cleaned up a flooded laundry room once; had an agent and an inspector leave the hot water heater's pop-off open one time; cleaned up a basement because a toilet failed to shut off). Never advise a client to go it alone. Your client considers you to be an expert, and you may get the blame when a homeowner damages their new purchase. You should have known, and now you do know. Knowing a "little," however, does not preclude needing a plumber! Have I made that point clearly?
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