Is water line connecting the meter to the house subject to a standard Home Inspection

As you may know, the water company is not responsible for the line b/w the meter and the house, only for the water line to the meter. A home owner is responsible for the water line between the meter and the house.

If for example there is a house 300 feet from the water meter.

A leak somewhere along those 300 feet can easily be diagnosed by shutting off the water main in the house, then simply seeing if the water meter still “spins”, question: What do you, as professionals, think about a Home Inspector’s claim that a huge cost of replacing this line could not have been prevented because Home Inspectors are responsible for inspecting the house, not what is “outside of the house”, more specifically - that the water line between the house and the water meter is not what Home Inspector is paid to inspect.
Thank you for posting.

Where are you located? If your State has Inspector licensing that might make a difference in the answer.

Home inspectors are not required to shut off the water main in the house, and in fact, doing so could cause more harm than good.

Not every home has a water main. While most houses do, one area I serve on occasion, every house in that area has no main water shut off, only the shut off at the meter.

Home Inspectors are not required to view the water meter. I try, when possible, but it’s not always visible. Sometimes it’s covered with dirt. Sometimes the entire meter is hidden under landscaping. Sometimes the enclosure the meter is in is filled up with water from rain or irrigation run off.

But lastly, unless it’s a significant leak, the meter may not spin much. A pinhole drip leak will barely move the meter, not enough to be visible to the naked eye, without noting where it is, and coming back later to see if it’s moved.

And simply noting where it is at the start, and at the end does no good, because any inspector if any value to going to run lots of water during the inspection.

Every inspector that I know disclaims underground plumbing and will not operate water main or other service valves, as doing so represents an unreasonable liability for the home inspector should a valve or pipe fail. Monitoring the meter over a brief period of time also is not a reliable method of testing for a leak in the main.

Were you given an inspection agreement to review prior to the inspection? Did you read and sign the agreement? Did the agreement exclude underground piping systems? Every business person should have the right to limit their liability. If that limitation was communicated to you, then any other opinions are moot.

State of Missouri.
Estimated 15,000 gallons of water leaking per month.

Other posters seem to suggest that enough disclaimers are likely inserted into agreements that customers must sign prior to home inspection, that any additional information is irrelevant.

For non-experienced first time home buyer paying a reputable costly inspector, it appears that the only way the can find out if there is a leak between the house and the meter is the hard way, since there is no way that a new home buyer would just simply “know” to do this.

Do you maybe think that inspectors should include this in their jobs, if only to simply tell the buyer to shut off the main themselves and check if the water meter is spinning, thereby making any discussion about inspector’s liability moot since they wouldn’t do it. It just seems to me like this should be a part of the home inspection one way or another. Simply telling your customer about this could save them thousands of dollars.

Surprisingly, the Home Inspector said that he would “go after the previous owner,” since the water company informed the previous owner of the leak, and the previous owner did not disclose this. Home Inspector said that it is irrelevant that the house contract included an “as is” addendum - that not disclosing this is fraud.

I am also surprised that this is in no way part of current inspection process for any of the professionals posting here. What chances does a first time home owner have to protect themselves against this? It seems zero. None.

I have provided comments and questions above in blue. If you would like to discuss this further I am more than happy to. My contact information is in my profile, just click on my name above.

Ah, but see, you omitted these important facts earlier. Leaving us to guess as to the situation.

A leak could mean anything. A small drip underground would be very difficult to spot, as I stated, even if you stared at the meter for an hour.

But 15,000 gallons a month is NOT a small leak and not the same situation.
One would think such a large volume of water would leave some sort of identifiable evidence that something isn’t right. Mud spot, sinkhole.

I have found such leaks before, but the water bubbling up from the lawn and down the street was a pretty good giveaway.

I’m not familiar with Missouri law, but I would suspect, ultimately, yes, the seller is the person who wronged you.

Here in California, if a seller failed to disclose a known defect like that, and you had proof of such, they would indeed be liable, and it would be a pretty easy case for you to go after the seller and win.

I seriously don’t know how an inspector could go after the seller for you unless they’re also a lawyer.

Maybe he is a Sicario, Mechanic, Hit Man, or whatever version chosen to describe him? :wink:

Good advice.

old article
Three Photos Every Inspector Should Include at the End of the Report - InterNACHI

This is more “pick and choose” BS to make the point they’re after. Very likely the inspector made the comment during discussions… “You know, if it was me, I would probably… blah, blah, blah…”.

Remember, we don’t even know this actually happened. It could just be a bunch of hokum to get us riled up.

IMO, this whole thread stinks, and reeks of nefarious activities and sales pitches of gimmick vendors!!

Agreed, water line insurance propaganda…

It may be BS to some but in Okla we are required by our SOP to ID the shut off for the utilities. It does not mean we operate them but I take a pic of every water meter shut off valve and any additional shut offs. The water meters we use are very sensitive to water flow and any movement is noticeable and I always watch for movement. I do the same at the gas meter.

How do you account for the water heater pilot light or even the water heater burner under this inspection protocol? Inquiring minds want to know how you sniff out a gas leak by meter movement when a constant flow of gas is the normal state.

The pilot light on a water heater is not enough flow to make the gas meter dial move any in a two minute period. The two minute protocol is what the local gas company uses to establish if there is a substantial leak. Common sense denotes that one must ensure the burners on any appliance is not operating

A home inspection is not “technically exhaustive”. There are lots that could be wrong with a house that can’t be discovered during the typical 3 hour generalist inspection.

My reports end with this statement: “If you would like a technically exhaustive inspection, we can arrange to have a general contractor, a structural engineer, an electrical engineer, a geo-technical engineer, and others to assist us with the inspection. The inspection would take days. The cost of this inspection would be approximately $10,000.”

I haven’t seen a “spinning” meter in a couple years. All the ones around here are digital. The spinning ones were much easier to use to detect a leak within the line. Not that I do it at a Home Inspection, but have done it on my own property numerous times. In fact, I used to live at top of a hill with meter at the bottom. After a repair mid way in the line, I’d watch the spinner to stop. Sometimes it would stop, then spin backwards a few rotations. I thought that was odd, since it would seem pressure on the street side of the meter would prevent “backflow”.

Same here, and the new ones are all solar, so the display goes blank inside the pit until you shine a flashlight on it…

The meters I see in my area have 2 or 3 different displays. The last, and shortest, display is “00”. This one is the leak detector. If there is a number other than zero, “04” for example, water is moving through the meter. It generally takes more than a minute or two to cycle through the displays.

The inspector would be opening his/her liability to mechanical and material failure,at the main water valve and upstream the water flow. You do not just turn on and off the main water valve.