Do I need the utilities turned 'ON' for a Home Inspection?

August 23, 2019

By Home Inspector Gene Ballin

Very often unoccupied houses are 'Winterized', this action is intended to drain the water lines and water heater of all water and prevent plumbing fixtures and traps from freezing and loosing trap seals.  The water lines and water heaters are commonly opened to drain and sometimes air pressure is used to blow the water lines clear. The plumbing fixtures and drain system traps are usually filled with anti-freeze. The purpose of winterization is to prevent water damage to the plumbing system components as well as to the structure if a pipe or plumbing component should burst from freezing.


It is not uncommon for water services to be turned on only an hour or so before the home is inspected.  I strongly advise that all water utilities services should be turned on and all air be purged from the water lines in a house for at least a few days before the Home Inspection. 


The reason is, it could take a few days for an issue such as a leaking water line, cracked drain trap, cracked toilets, leaking faucets, leaking water heater or other similar plumbing related conditions to reveal themselves! One drip does not sound like much, but one drip an hour can easily create real problems.


 Please keep in mind there are many things that cannot be checked without all the utility services on and functional. If utility services are just 'not available', significant defects could still be discovered by having a Home Inspection, but having the utilities on for a few days is always better.