Inspecting Winterized Home Question?

Should I inspect a home which has been winterized by the owner and the water heater and toilets and faucets have been shut off at each system’s cutoff water valve when the client’s realtor has been given verbal permission by the owner to inspect the winterized home? When we call the realtor, the client’s realtor verbally says the owner of the house gave (verbal) permission to turn on the water heater and other systems for inspection.

Who is liable if the valves fail and the house gets flooded with water and the main shutoff cannot be closed, the inspector or the realtor or the owner?:twisted:

Should we get written permission to turn on the plumbing appliances and sinks and toilets by the owner before the inspection? Should we contact the owner to get it in writing or have the realtor contact them, if need be?

Whoever turns them on.

But if the owner gives permission verbally or in writing, that would transfer liability to the owner…correct?

John around here the winterized homes have glycol added, personally unless the systems had been drained I would not turn anything on, and I do not turn mains on at any time

You ask ahead of time when booking and recommend they be turned on.
If you turn them on permission or not it is foolish.

Hopefully we are not that desperate.

I will NEVER turn on a valve. I will furnish tools to realtor or buyer and take pictures of them turning on the valves! Always add this to my reports also.

Thanks for the quick replies!


I have learned my lesson by trying to be a “good guy” and turned on a valve or two and it never turned out pretty. Was pretty embarrassed when I turned on a valve I thought was for the dishwasher under the kitchen sink and was actually for the refrigerator water supply which wasn’t connected to the fridge. 2 minutes later water all over the wooden floor - never again! Always have someone else turn on any valve in the house. The best option is to get the seller to do it.


Agreed. As a plumber by trade- I would never turn on a valve (or turn one off). Though it is my profession and I have the understanding of what I am turning on (usually) the liability is too great. Water begins damaging instantly. I would request that the seller turn on the water before the inspection and be present during the inspection to turn it off if any leaks were discovered in my inspection. If not possible I would note that I could not test any plumbing on my report. I’m brand new to inspecting- so please understand where my advice comes from - as a plumber first, then an inspector.