Home Baker Home Inspection Inc.
Home Inspections in Salisbury, Ocean City, Ocean Pines, Berlin and all over the Eastern Shore
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Dewinterizing Problems

Over the winter, I have seen many instances of homes that had been winterized. The plumbing pipes and water heater had been drained (supposedly) and an antifreeze had been used to prevent freezing of the pipes. This is usually done because the home is vacant and the heat has either been turned way down low or off completely.

I know of two cases in just the past few weeks in which someone went into the homes, turned the water back on and water began to spray out of busted pipes. One of these homes had so much water spill onto the first floor, that all of the carpet and hardwood on that floor had to be replaced. This cost the seller lots of money, the buyer lots of time and the agent lots of headaches.

All of the Standards of Practices used by reputable home inspectors throughout the country explain that, home inspectors are not required to activate any system that has been deactivated. Whether it's plumbing, heating, cooling, electrical or any other system the home inspector is not required to activate the system. There are good reasons for this and it's not just because all home inspectors are lazy. There are two main reasons why home inspectors should think twice before activating a system that has been shut down.

Number one is safety. Just suppose a home is on the market and it has gas leak somewhere. The seller wants to get out of the house without spending money on fixing the leak and the only gas appliance is a gas fireplace. The seller never used the fireplace very much so he goes out to the propane tank 6 months before he puts the house on the market and turns the gas off, but he forgets to tell the listing agent. A month after listing the home, along comes a buyer that wants an inspection performed. The inspector decides that he will reactivate the gas, he turns the gas on at the tank, goes to ignite the gas fireplace and kaboom, people are injured or killed and property is destroyed. A good home inspector has to work under the guise that he has no idea why a system was turned off and therefore it may have been turned off because it be unsafe.

The second reason for a home inspector not activating a system that has been turned off is the potential for property damage. Like the cases above where the home was winterized. When someone opened up the supply lines water went everywhere and damaged the property. The inspector should have a full understanding as to why a system was turned off before he or she even considers turning it back on.

So what should happen when systems have been turned off in a home?

The listing agent should advise the owner of the property that potential buyers will want to know and see that all of the systems in the home are in working order, and should be on at the time of the inspection. That way when the buyers view the home and the home inspector performs a thorough inspection all of the systems can be evaluated.