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  • New house inspection, no water pressure

    A friend of mine is buying a house and posed me some concerns I didn't know how to reassure. All of what I'm about to tell you is third-hand, so I may get some of the details wrong; thanks in advance for your patience.

    The house has been winterized, by which I presume that all valves are opened and the pipes are filled with some kind of anti-freeze; certainly the toilet bowls are. City water is not turned on. He had an inspector test the system - city water off, so they used a generator? Wha--? - and the report said that they couldn't get any pressure on the pipes.

    My friend is panicking because he's afraid he's committed to a house with leaks in every pipe. I suggested back to him that one open faucet somewhere in the house could return that sort of result, but I really don't know. I've no experience here.

    Can someone shed some light on what could possibly be going on?
    Bill in Kansas City, MO

    Measure with a micrometer
    Mark with a crayon
    Cut with an axe.

  • #2
    You cannot test water pressure without WATER running in the pipes full stop no question.
    Racking my brain on how to use a generator to test water pressure and I came up with nothing, I guess you could use a generator to power a compressor and use air to pressurize the lines, problem here is that you would have to use such low "AIR" pressure or risk damaging the water lines. Typically household water pressure is somewhere in the range of 30 to 60 PSI. Assuming all valves were shut (and not leaking) and the H2O tank valves including the pressure relief valve were shut and the water meter had not been removed (this is common when cities turn off water to a premises) that compressor would have had to run for a fairly long time to not only pressurize itself but also the ENTIRE house. Again the huge risk in doing this would be any loose connection or leaky valve would negate any air pressure test or possibly damage the system.
    Faucets are not designed to be "air" tight they are designed to be water tight and like mentioned any old valve/washer that is open or faulty would negate an air test (even if it was a good idea)

    More importantly I'd be questioning the validity of a home inspector (and his other inspections on this home) that attempted to test a water system that is clearly turned off (city water turned off).
    Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
    Every day is a learning day.

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    • #3
      system testing

      plumbers use an air pump like for tires with an air gauge and air fitting to test capped off water lines.
      they pump up the system to about 45 lbs and leave it overnight. if it don't leak air, it passes. if it leaks more than 2-3 lbs the inspection fails [bad solder joints, loose valves etc]
      a winterized home uses anti-freeze in the toilet bowls. hot water and cold water lines are disconnected and blown out with compressed air and left open.

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      • #4
        Yep, I'm well aware of "testing" but that is always overnight particularly for city/county inspectors. No home inspector should perform this test in the line of a "home inspection" That would be like him using a generator to power the house to test a GFCI.
        Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
        Every day is a learning day.

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        • #5
          inspection

          yeah, I'm aware of that. But an inspection is just that - INSPECTION.
          that means they just look for discrepancies not do the actual testing.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by HayZee518 View Post
            plumbers use an air pump like for tires with an air gauge and air fitting to test capped off water lines.
            they pump up the system to about 45 lbs and leave it overnight. if it don't leak air, it passes. if it leaks more than 2-3 lbs the inspection fails [bad solder joints, loose valves etc]
            a winterized home uses anti-freeze in the toilet bowls. hot water and cold water lines are disconnected and blown out with compressed air and left open.
            So is it your opinion HayZee that the test was likely invalid from the get-go?
            Bill in Kansas City, MO

            Measure with a micrometer
            Mark with a crayon
            Cut with an axe.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by pushkins View Post
              You cannot test water pressure without WATER running in the pipes full stop no question.

              ...

              More importantly I'd be questioning the validity of a home inspector (and his other inspections on this home) that attempted to test a water system that is clearly turned off (city water turned off).
              With the city water turned off, I was skeptical myself. Thank you for taking the time to write up a detailed explanation.
              Bill in Kansas City, MO

              Measure with a micrometer
              Mark with a crayon
              Cut with an axe.

              Comment


              • #8
                home inspection.

                what does an inspector look for in a home inspection.
                a house that has been vacant for any length of time should have the water shut off at the street cock, the union after the water main in the house disconnected. the main house valve opened. if its a gate valve the bonnet is removable.
                all water should be forced bled out of the system with compressed air. all water valves should be left open. all toilet tanks shall be drained of all water. toilets should have an anti freeze liquid poured into the bowl to seal against sewer gases.
                check for leaks around the chimney flashing in the attic. check for loose shingles. look closely at the fascia at the eaves and soffits. loose mouldings etc. take samples of the interior paint and check for lead paint. [window casings, door casings] check for radon in the basement. check that the grade slopes away from the house.
                check the kitchen for gfci protection within a six foot radius of the sink. check for gfci protection in every bathroom near a sink. check for a gfci outlet at grade level outside. check for gfci protection in a garage and basement [at least one outlet]
                after the 1996 code, bedrooms required afci breakers feeding outlets. [arc fault circuit interrupter]
                this is a partial list. I'm sure there's more things to look at.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by HayZee518 View Post
                  this is a partial list. I'm sure there's more things to look at.
                  LOL...yes that is a partial list,

                  Basically once the water has been turned off by the city the home inspector has no right or responsibility to turn it back on, it must be mentioned in the report that water was not available at the time of inspection ( I always list why) and that the water system was only visually inspected, presence of shut off valves P traps etc...
                  Same for the electrical system, once the power is off the home inspector has no right nor should he/she attempt to energize in ANY WAY the system, he/she should note the fact that there was no electricity present at the time of inspection (again I list why) and that the inspection consisted of only a visual inspection presence of GFCI's correct breakers for wire size in panel etc...

                  As a further note any inspector that tries to energize (electricity) or pressurize (water) a home they are inspecting runs the serious risk of becoming fully liable for any issues that arise from such practice. This is aside of any legal issues that come about from doing so.
                  Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
                  Every day is a learning day.

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