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Turning water on to a vacant or foreclosed homes

Water damage from open valve

This last week I had two vacant houses to inspect that had the water turned off.  In one of the houses the clothes washer had been removed and the hot and cold water valves were open.  The water company turned on the water to the house and did not notice the meter was running indicating a water valve or line was open.  Within a short period of time the 1st floor was flooded and the inspection had to be postponed a few days until the house was dried out.

The other house had been winterized by the bank.  When winterizing a house  the water is removed from all the water lines to prevent the lines from freezing during the winter months.  I know it sounds funny that houses in the Phoenix area might freeze, but some banks follow a national procedure for foreclosed homes.  The bottom drain valve at the water heater was opened to drain the water heater.  Debris from the tank  become stuck in the valve preventing the valve from fully closing.  Water from this partially opened valve had damaged the water heater platform.

The first thing you need to do before turning water on to a house is close all of the valves and faucets.  When a house is being winterized every valve and faucet is opened.  So anything that water can come out of needs to be double checked to make sure that it is shut off.  This includes: sinks, tubs/showers, clothes washer hook ups, water heater valve, exterior hose bibs, even check the refrigerator ice maker water valve.  Be thorough because if you forget one you may have a lot of water to clean up.  I typically leave one hot and cold faucet open at a sink or tub to let the air escape from the lines and water heater as the water is turned back on.

Locate your main water valve.  You may want to have someone else with you to help watch for leaks or breaks in the pipes.  If there is, turn the main water off immediately and have leaks repaired.  Slowly turn the main water valve back on.  Then slowly turn on all faucets.  Make sure you flush all toilets a couple of times as well.  When the air leaves your pipes it can be loud so don’t be startled.  Let all of your faucets run for about 10-15 minutes.  You are trying to make sure that all air and debris are out of the system.

If water does not properly flow out of the sink faucets the aerator(s) may be clogged.  This is the little cap on the end of the faucet.  Screw off the aerator and clean out any debris that may have built up.  This will  typically solve the problem.  Once everything is flushed out you can turn the faucets back off again.  Put the aerators back on the faucet heads if required.  Turn on the water heater.  I recommend double checking after a day or so to make sure that there are no leaks that developed at the water valves or lines.

Kevin Shroyer - PrimeSpec Consulting, LLC

Kevin Shroyer is the owner of PrimeSpec Consulting, LLC - A home inspection company located in Gilbert, AZ. Having over 25 years in the building trades industries, he brings a level of knowledge and quality unmatched in the business. Need an inspection in the Phoenix. AZ area? Call 480-570-5615 for a free quote.

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2 Responses to Turning water on to a vacant or foreclosed homes

  1. […] Continue reading… Post Contributed by Kevin at Primespec Consulting Home Inspections With Permission 3/1/2012 Related Posts:Water Conservation Begins At HomeWater Damage Do’s And Don’tsDoes Your Insurance Cover Water Damage or Floods?Creating a Waterwise LandscapeInstalling a New Toilet Category: Home Inspections, Stew's Blog March 2, 2012 at 8:15 am No comments Stew Keene Leave a Comment or Cancel reply […]

  2. Leslie says:

    Great post. Thanks for sharing this information!