Inspector Caused Leak according to Homeowner

I was called out to inspect a small second story studio in Los Angeles today. They had a Home Inspector out 10 days earlier and water was shut off. The agent stated that inspector shows up and starts inspection. Turns on water supply faucet at kitchen and nothing, turns on bathroom sink faucet nothing. Agent calls HOA water has been shut off for maintenance. I guess inspector does what he can and charges client via credit card link. I asked my client if he signed inspectors inspection agreement? He says “No”. The HOA turns water back on later that day. I guess they are saying inspector left water supply faucet in the kitchen and bathroom on. The drain stopper in bathroom was shut and garbage disposal side of kitchen sink was clogged. Turns out the property is in probate with no homeowners insurance, agent says they are going after inspector for the damages. The lower unit suffered substantial water damage that restoration company open up the ceiling. Huge mess, I feel bad for inspector but he set himself up for failure. I did what I could and took pictures and going to light up report like a huge Christmas Tree, LOL. No other information about this issue. I was sure to check all faucets before I left the inspection. Just FYI

Yeah, if the inspector didn’t leave it how he found it he could be in trouble I suppose. Does someone energizing the water service after it’s been off have some duty to make sure it’s not just free flowing? IMO yes but that doesn’t mean the inspector is off the hook totally. Depending on how much damage was done it sounds like something destined for an insurance company and possible a courtroom.

I heard of a somewhat similar situation once - My brother-in-law went to Vegas with some buddies and upon returning to their room after a night drinking there was no water at the bathroom sink. So they went to bed (brushed teeth with toilet water???). Anyway, they were woken up a few hours later by hotel maintenance people pounding on the door of their room because the water had been turned back on and they left the faucet at the sink on and it flooded their bathroom and below. They ended up not being held liable… I suppose because it’s Vegas and drunks doing dumb things is built-in to the room fees. Of course, it’s a totally different situation as my relative was a guest in the hotel not a professional being paid for service.

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My concern for inspector is that he did not get his inspection agreement signed. My EO insurance clearly states that if inspection agreement is not signed they will not cover any claims. The client stated that he retracted payment, I guess he wanted to stay clear of this one. Ahh Vegas I am sure we all have one or two vegas stories lol.

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Last on out gets the bad rap. But was this really gross negligence?

But to your point which is well made here, get those agreements signed!

Yeah, leaving water on is the least of the problems that can happen in Vegas :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Yikes about not getting the agreement signed. I always hear E/O companies say that about denying claims and wonder if it’s that simple. Kind of like auto or homeowner’s insurance companies threatening to deny coverage. Insurance companies denying coverage is a tough one for the companies in general. My old neighbor was an attorney that somewhat specialized in people having to go after their own insurance for denying coverage and we had some discussions about it. He wasn’t totally familiar with inspection E/O but his general opinion was that to deny coverage an insurance company has to prove that you set out to purposefully defraud them. Not getting an agreement signed doesn’t rise to that level IMO. It’s kind of like us stating over and over and over that our liability is limited to the fee paid. We’d love it if that were actually true! I think HI E/O companies spout that so often since it makes their life A LOT easier with a signed agreement but I don’t think they are totally off the hook without it.

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This has nothing to do with E&O as the inspector did not miss anything. The inspector is accused of damaging the home due to negligence. This would be GL.

This is also 100% the fault of whoever turned the water on without checking the fixtures afterwards.


It was HOA responsibility to insure the potable domestic water supply procedure. That’s it, That’s all! No passing the buck. You do not turn the potable domestic water supply shut off to the open position and walk away. It had nothing to do with the home inspector!!!
Opening the main water valve
1: Close all faucets except a tub or sink on the highest level of the home.
2: Partially turn on valves slowly; extra slow for lever handles; stop after ½ revolution on wheel handle, ½ of a ¼ turn for lever handle; with water flowing, slowly turn off highest open faucet.
3: Listen for water pressure to equalize (noise ends); fully open main valve. Bleed air from lines by slowly opening (hot and cold) on all faucets, one at a time, until air stops flowing, then close each faucet; repeat the process on all faucets until complete.
4: Turn power on to electric water heaters and boilers only after the water system is full and all air has been bled out. If gas was turned off, carefully follow re-starting directions on the appliance jacket or call a registered plumber or your gas company for service.

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I agree with Jeff.

The water should never just be turned on without doing a check after it’s turned on to look for fixtures that were left on, burst pipes, a blown washing machine hose, etc…

IMO 100% of the liability falls onto who ever physically opened the valve to let the flooding begin.

As far as the inspector not having a signed PIA, that’s totally his fault.


I’m in between on this one. You say it was in a condo. Was the main turned off to the whole complex? How many units in the complex? You can’t hardly expect the person who turned the main back on to go through the whole complex looking for faucets that might be on. If the water was off to just that unit, then it could be expected that the person turning it back on would verify faucets.

This was a big mistake by the inspector. Hopefully they have liability insurance because I think this one is coming back to them.

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The person that turns the water on has a responsibility to shut off any running water at faucets. I just did a rowhome that had been purchased from a Bank. Of course the bank “winterized” the property so they could turn the furnace off (and WH). The guy that winterized it did a particularly lousy job as did the guy the homebuyer hired to “dewinterize.” So when I got there the water was OFF. When I turned it on (don’t do this without a waiver) most of the faucets were on and I had to run around and turn them off (3 floors). So what did the dewinterize guy actually do. He should have turned the water on, shut off all the faucets, made sure the toilets all worked and lit the water heater (no hot water). No leaks on my watch, but more work cause the previous guy didn’t do his job (welcome to America).


Not sure a signed agreement would have helped anyways.
The agreement says nothing about this type of situation. Is there a line that says we can turn on a faucet and leave it?

But I agree with the others, this is not the inspectors fault… anybody could have come in and turned a faucet. The one turning on the water was the one missing any type of common sense

It takes about two minutes to walk through a condo and make sure that all of the windows are locked, all of the doors are locked, the circuit breakers are left in the position you found them in, appliances such as a stove are turned off, all of the faucets are turned off.

You are asking for trouble if this isn’t part of your closing process.


I agree. You wouldn’t turn the gas on without checking, would you?

Most sense you made in a while…


The condo complex has three stories with about 200 units. The condo Association informs tenants that the water will be shut off at their section of building for a few hours for maintenance. Each building has about 50 units, so they do not go around checking each unit when water main is turned back on. I inherited a new real estate agent client, I would assume she’s not gonna be able to use the inspector in question again. I will ask her in a few months what came out of this. This has taught me to never take any inspection for granted, this condo inspection should have been a slam dunk, in and out 45 min. Not sure if inspector is liable, but it was great to read all the comments. Thanks!