Winterized properties

I have a property inspection on a home that has been winterized. The inspection is set up for tomarrow. A plumber can not be out for two days and closing is in 10 days. What can I do to De-Winterize the house or does it need to be done by a plumber. The house was built in '74.

Unless you are willing to take on the liability for anything that happens, I would not do it. Wait for the plumber. It does not look like the sales contract was subject to an inspection clause so I would say waiting two additional days for the plumber to come out would not hurt.

I would not go there. Its not worth the risk!

Lately, I’ve arrived at many home inspections (foreclosures & short sales) only to find out that the water can not be turned on for the inspection (according to the Listing agent on-site).

That’s fine. I simply disclaim the entire plumbing system (in the house) on the HI report, and I advise my clients to have the water turned on before close of escrow.

I received a call a while ago, from one of those (no water) clients and she was thanking me so much for advising her to get the water turned on before her closing. When the municipal plumbers did show up to turn the water on, my clients went inside the house and viewed a waterfall flowing right down the interior stairs. She told me that they walked from the deal.

Not a good situation.

Most of these winterized homes (in my area) simply were not winterized properly. The responsible individuals who shut the water off, failed to blow the water out of the piping. This situation caused the water inside the pipes to freeze and burst throughout the house.

I had another client that was in this same situation and he took the responsibility to turn “on” the water main himself and guess what…Every damn ceiling in the house started seeping water onto every floor in the home.
They walked too.

I tell all my clients “Never purchase a home without having the utilities turned on for a complete inspection”. The banks are being totally ridiculous nowadays. They are telling all the Buyers that they are purchasing the property “AS IS” and that the water, gas and electric can not be turned on for the sale.

Nice try…Let’s be real.

Good advice.

Tomorrows inspection is rescheduled for later when the water is turned on.

The listing agent was sure the inspector would turn it on…:roll:

Had the same thought from an agent the other day. I said no I do not turn on water service for more than one reason including I break it I own it.:slight_smile:

Never turn a water main “ON”. Unless of course, you don’t mind paying for clean up costs and damaged building materials.


Looks like weather up your way is predicted for near or below freezing each night for the next 10 days.

Another item to consider before choosing to remove a homes winterization, especially with the temps as they are, is what other utilities have been shut off? If you have no heat source and remove the winterization then you already know what can happen. You should take into consideration also how long the home has been winterized. It can have an affect on water heaters, HVAC’s and other aspects of the home.

I have removed the winterization before but not before the buyer has signed an agreement knowing what could occur and agreeing to pay for any damages and my defense if anything negative happens. So far I have had only one taker on that offer. Otherwise if they are dead set on having the inspection I will inspect all I can and there will be a lot of disclaimers in the contract as well as the report.

I will not turn on water mains or de-winterize homes. I was in one the other day, the water company turned it on and THEN figured out that when they winterized the house, they disconnected the feed and supply lines to the water heater so they flooded the kitchen. After they hooked those up, they figured out ALL of the pipes in the crawl were broken. Complete repipe of a 950 sf home.

Unless you kinow what you are doing I wouldn’t recommend de-winterizing a house…also, what are the plans for the house AFTER the inspection??? Re-winterizing it???

If you encounter a regular amount of homes that are winterized then learn the process and make MORE money on these type of inspections!!


It’s bad news when the first floor can lights start dripping


I fully agree! The one taker I had was fully aware that I was not going to winterize it again and if appropriate utilities and systems were not available to sustain a safe condition (first thing checked on site) then I would not remove any further winterization efforts. Oh, and of course, my fee stood the same (no discounts).

I have lost inspections because I do not remove winterizations. I highly recommend the client have the winterization removed 24 - 48 hours before the inspection. If there are any significant problems then we should see the signs when the inspection starts. In addition it may save them an inspection altogether!

I recently inspected a house that had gone through foreclsoure. The house had been winterized by request of the original lender. The house was less than 2 years old. The realtor was present when the house was de-winterized, and she said all he did was turn the water on and run all the fixtures. He made close to what I made for my inspection. (the realtor said it took him about 15 minutes) My question is what all does winterization entail? It seems to me that there would far less issues here in the desert (it rarely freezes), than say Michigan.


When you’re inspecting homes that have apparently been vacant or winterized for a period of time, the water faucets and drain pipes are not used on a regular basis, therefore the components within these fixtures can dry out and harden. Then, the first time they are used or turned on (by the inspector), it may result in damage to the interior plumbing components, such as o-rings at the water faucet. When these o-rings fail, you’ve got leaks that will not stop until you turn off the water supply. Then if you are unable to repair what you broke, then you will be paying the Plumber to repair your faults.

One other thing…Hydrogen gas can accumulate in hot water systems that have not been operated for a period of time, such as in vacant or winterized residences. It doesn’t matter what State you are in and what season it is. Under these adverse conditions, the hydrogen gas can cause fires at faucets and explosions at water-using appliances.

An HI is much better off leaving the plumbing operation to the Plumbers. If there are mishaps when the Plumber is on-site, then they fix the issues right there and then.

David, I agree with you…

Most of that is true. However, if you turn the water on and a faucet leaks or a pipe leaks, it’s NOT the inspectors fault…it is what it is, a leak that has to be repaired. That is the duty of the inspector to report to the client. Plus, if a home has been foreclosed and vacant for an extended period, the bank anticipates problems like this.

I have de-winterized homes that had gushing leaks in the crawlspace when the water was turned on…more times than not you can isolate that section of plumbing and still conduct an inspection on the remaining plumbing lines. However, the worst is if the home has a boilder for heat, those can be a bugger if the lines were not filled with anti-freeze…burst lines all over the place!!

Anyway, if you learn to winterize homes PROPERLY than you can de-winterize homes as well. No need to loose an inspection (money money money) over this increasing request!!

Just my 2 cents


Good Luck.

Too true!

With so many vacant homes I have really been emphasizing to the client that I can not / will not turn on any system that has been shut down. Interesting to hear, “Oh yeah, everything is on.”, only to get to there and find otherwise. > The blank stare and, “Well, it was on before.”


I’ve been doing quite a few forclosures, if a utility is not on when I arrive it is disclaimed, if all utilities are on and one fail it is noted as “failed under testing” agents and client is notified to have an appropriate contractor repair the problem.

Here is one I did last week, home built in 2006, never lived in.
That’s water coming from under the wall, and a view from the basement. “Plumbing inspection ended to help prevent further damage. Recommend consulting a qualified plumber to further investigate/repair all plumbing issues.”

555 Hummingbird ln. 150.jpg

555 Hummingbird ln. 155.jpg


I’ve been in many situations where plumbing fixtures have failed under testing and that’s absolutely excusable. But turning on the water main and causing extensive damage to one’s property can only get the average HI involved in a legal battle.