Special offer

The Tip This Week Is About Winterized Properties from Your Friendly Home Inspector

Home Inspector with Alert Home Services

Hello again, Your Friendly Home Inspector, Rick McCullough

The TIP this week is about Winterized Properties.

When a home is winterized some companies disconnect the toilet water supply (Risers) and the dishwasher water supply under the kitchen sink. Check that the washer water hook up and the outside water hose faucets (Hose Bibs) are all OFF. And the T & P valve is closed and the water drain is off at the water heater.
Then there is perhaps a Ice Maker Water line that went to the Refrigerator.

These again ALL need to be checked BEFORE you restore water to the home.

BEFORE the Water company comes out to turn on the water someone SHOULD turn OFF the MAIN WATER VALVE inside the home and check that the BLEED NIPPLE is secure. That way you can somewhat control the water when it is turned on inside the home.

I always turn OFF the water to the water heater and check the cold water side first and then slowly turn on the hot water side. That way you can isolate which side you may have a leak on, cold or hot.

Twice this week I had a real mess when I showed up for an Inspection.

First one on Monday I found the agent in a frantic way. The water company had left but a few minutes before and the agent was there by herself. I walked in and heard her in the basement raising some commotion. I set my equipment down and ran downstairs to find water gushing from the bleed nipple on the main water shut off. About 50 gallons of water already on the flooring. The bleed nipple cap had blown off the shut off valve.

Got the water shut off and luckily the agent had a squeegee in her car,, I would never had thought of carrying one of those.. Glad she did. Took a couple of hours to clean up the water.

The second inspection today the water company had come by and turned on the water the yesterday. When I arrived today there was water coming from the crawlspace vents. Not a great site to drive up to. I turned the water off and the power, then called the listing agent. She was beside herself. Last I heard today was the Flood Restoration Company was estimating about $10,000- $15,000 damage. They said the BLEED NIPPLE CAP WASN'T THERE.

So PLEASE have someone qualified check BEFORE you have that water turned on.

A Simple Tip From Your Friendly Home Inspector, Rick McCullough

Michelle Way
AVALAR Pro Realty - Jackson, MS

Thanks I am going to save this because I just closed a deal the first part of the month and I didn't know this

Apr 26, 2007 04:05 PM
Lea Deo, REALTORĀ® - KW Realty Partners
Keller Williams Legacy Partners, Inc. - Shawnee, KS
Johnson County REALTORĀ®| Shawnee KS Homes for Sale
I'm going to the lake tomorrow to dewinterize my house.  Think I'll take a squeegee just in case.  Thanks for this practical advice  
Apr 26, 2007 04:15 PM
Bob Elliott
Elliott Home Inspection - Chicago, IL
Chicago Property Inspection
Just to add a word Rick {ok a few) it is also a good idea to open some of the faucets and turn the main slowly so sudden pressure doesn"t shock the pipes.This is even more important with the older galvanized pipes as the shock will actually knock off rust that will create a blockage that kills all water pressure.
Apr 26, 2007 06:22 PM
Rick McCullough
Alert Home Services - Denver, CO
Your right Bob,, that is why I would suggest letting someone that knows what to look for and how to prevent a flood to turn on the water in a winterized property.
Apr 27, 2007 01:25 AM
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team
Thanks I didn't know what winterizing meant.  Good blog.
May 22, 2007 05:32 AM
Dale Baker
Baker Energy Audits and Commercial Properties Inspections - Claremont, NH
New Hampshire Relocation Real Estate Information

Very good tip post Rick

Yes they do need to have someone qualified check before they have the water turned on.

Jun 13, 2007 05:09 AM
Rosemary Brooks
BMC Real Estate - 209-910-3706 - Stockton, CA
The Mother & Daughter Realty Team
I was thinking with all the foreclosure and bank owned homes, there could a big business out there to some companies that does this type of work.
Jun 15, 2007 07:12 PM

I'm looking to purchase a foreclosure house that has been unoccupied for about 18 months and is now winterized.  When I talked to the neighbors for more information on the house I found out at one point while it was unoccupied the water pipes had burst.  The neighbors didn't know if the leaks have been repaired. Is there a way for home inspectors to test for leaks in a house that is currently winterized?

Oct 10, 2007 03:29 PM

I would recommend an air test be done first. That will tell you if there are leaks and if you can't pressure it up listen for the leaks. Glass against the walls and a screw driver against exposed piping. I would certainly NOT turn on the water without doing this first.

A house I was scheduled to inspect the buyer didn't wish an air test of the plumbing. He had the water company come out and turn on the water instead. By the time they got the water turned back off water was running down the walls and through the seams in the ceiling between the floors. Thosands of $$ in damage occured. All to save $125 air test fee. 

Also you may wish to consider a Video of the sewer lines.

Oct 10, 2007 04:41 PM
Carl Winters
Canyon Lake, TX

Water damage is definitely "not good".

We haven't any change in weather over here in TX as of this date. Been about 90 degrees every day. Just wonder when winter will come. If it is like last year we won't even need to take the winter coat out of the closet. Still, it is wise to get ready.

Oct 15, 2007 12:20 PM

How do I go about getting a air test?  Can a home inspector perform an air test?  How does an air test works, is it suppose to hold pressure for a certain amount of time?


Oct 17, 2007 04:00 PM

Call around to some of your local inspectors. They'll know of some companies that do air testing. In my case I do offer air testing.

An air test puts air into the potable water system. I pump to 50-60 psi and keep it there for 30 minutes. Lots of times the faucets will leak by some air due to cracked washers / o-rings. Easily repaired before the water is turned back on. There is no set time I know of. It just depends on the individual doing the testing.

The only other item I would suggest would be a Video Scope of the sewer line if you can't run water through it. To detect clogs or breakage of it. That could run into the $1000's to replace or repair.  I also offer this service.

Hope this helped you.


Oct 18, 2007 12:58 AM
Stephen Joos & Chris Brubaker- HouseFront
HouseFront - Denver, CO
haha, wow some crazy stories, guess this sounds like an important tip to me.  Thanks for sharing.
Oct 19, 2007 04:27 AM
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

Hi - I know your post is a bit older, but I just read it and was wondering, how much would you charge to make an extra trip to a house, to make sure it's OK to turn on the water? Whenever I have to do this, I can't even sleep the night before from worry. One time, water started coming out of the kitchen ceiling from a broken pipe in the upstairs bathroom. But I don't know how that could have been seen ahead of time. Luckily, the shut off valve worked.

Jan 05, 2010 05:10 AM