I don't turn on the water service!

“I don’t turn on the water service.”

That’s a line I’ve used many times over the past 4 years. A line I learned from fellow inspectors right here on this forum.
Monday’s inspection was no different.

Called the agent to set the appointment. I asked if the water and heat were turned on as this time of year, many are not. He said the heat was on, but the well was shut down and drained. However the owner had emailed him instructions on how to turn it on. I said ok, and we set the appointment for Monday.
I showed up, and immediately the realtor hands me a copy of the email with the instructions to turn the water on. I politely said " I have a policy not to turn the water service on. If you want to, you can turn it on and then I’ll inspect it." I expained the “why’s” and gave a couple horror stories and could see the agent roll his eyes, but the client nod in agreement that it wasn’t my duty.
I told them that I’d start on the outside and if he wanted, he could turn on the water service.
About 45 minutes later I came inside to inspect the interior and inquired if they got the water turned on. Realtor said “you won’t be inspecting the plumbing system today”. I asked why… and the client said they turned the water on and immediately a pipe burst inside the wall at the upstairs bathroom shower and started leaking thru to the basement.
I turned and winked at the client and said “that’s why I don’t turn on the water service”.:slight_smile:
If I had, I’d probably be paying for a new wall right now. (no access panel).

I do my own rehabs and I’ve had it happen in one of my houses.
I don’t do them for HI Clients. I agree completely.

All four of my inspections today (three condos, one house) were foreclosures. At the house, the gas was shut off at the furnace and the furnace was also unplugged. SDG&E had left a real nice note: “I did not turn the gas on at the furnace due to all the lint in the attic. Have the attic cleaned of lint before using the furnace.”

My Client’s Realtor asked me to just plug it in and turn the gas on real quick just for testing. I told her, “The bank didn’t plug it in and turn it on, and they own the property. SDG&E didn’t plug it in and turn it on, and they are the experts. What possible reason would I have to go against the owners and the experts?” She walked away but my Client, a Referral Rewards Client, seemed to understand.

What is this?

There is a reason many municipalities require the Gas company or a contractor to turn on gas and light pilot lights. The folks in this particular case stated why they had turned off the gas and even went so far as to draw an inference to a fire hazard lurking in the attic. The Realtor in this case is an airhead. To “just to test it” is an asinine statement indicating at the very least this person hasn’t a clue as to how long it takes for an accident to take place. Lint is an absolutely excellent fire starter; with just the hint of a spark it goes up like an old fashioned flash bulb. Home Inspectors should never be expected to restore services at the meters or valves because the instant they do they have made themselves totally responsible for anything afterwards that happens. No amount of justification will convince the owners the HI is not somehow responsible. If a water valve snaps off at the meter, how do you then shut off the water? I have gone to homes where the gas was restored a day or so before the inspection and found numerous gas leaks inside the home as well as in the crawl. One spark and the whole block would be nothing but a smoking hole in the ground. I too have had a Realtor roll their eyes, go and turn a water valve only to have a shower, massive leaks or a huge mess on their hands and in panic, looking to me to make it stop. Tough noogies!

I love your writing, especially this:

That’s poetry! Just an absolutely beautiful use of words!

Well said it just proves our points DON’T TURN IT ON!

I go one step more up the ladder – You turn it on and call me

I will be down the street getting a beer

And if it is in the next 2 hrs I will not charge you extra

As a good guy I will make some exceptions. Many people in this area are winter only residents (snow birds) and they turn every thing off when they leave. They are out of town and the used home sales person lacks the knowledge to use the water closit

If do check first to see if I can find any problems. I look at it this way - The home was put in the sleep mode not because of a problem - it is what smart people do when they go away. They (and I) turn off the lights

Remember most of the homes in this area of the country are all electric and some with city water the rest have wells

---- Should a breaker that is off for a hot water tank or a HVAC be something that we do not turn on??

---- Should the main water valve (not the meter) cutoff be off limits or is a user valve like a sink??



The word from my GL company is, “That is correct. You don’t turn it on. If it’s off, and you don’t own the property, then it’s someone else’s responsibility to turn it on.”

That’s good enough for me, but we don’t have a lot of winterization and snowbirds here. For people who have second, third, and fourth homes here, they simply rent them out.

About a month ago I showed up at a property and the water main was turned off. I told the client that I could come back to inspect as soon as somebody turned on the main. The realtor rolled her eyes at me, reached down and she turned on the main and it broke off in her hand. About that time I heard a “woosh” sound and water starting coming out of the ceiling in the basment…Guess what? She had to pay for the main handle repair and also the cost of the pipe and sheetrock repairs…Sure glad I just didnt reach down there and turn the main on…

She probably rolled her eyes again when she wrote the checks for repairs. LOL

No way I’m turning on any utility (ie: water, electrical or gas).

Most foreclosures, REO’s, and/or otherwise vacant homes are usually winterized, which is labeled and obvious. I’ve had Buyer and Seller R/E Agts asked me to turn utilities on and I just smile a say nicely, no way.

When I’m first interviewing with the Client/Agent on the phone, almost without exception, my first question is “are all the utilities on” and if not they need to be turned on, because I won’t turn them on for liability sake.