In an earlier post My House is Winterized! What is Winterization? I described what winterization means in general. Today I thought I'd talk about what winterization means to an inspector--what an inspector mentally goes through when he/she arrives at a house and sees the "Winterized" stickers all over the place.
There are two basic scenarios, with a few extra surprises thrown in for the fun of it. In Scenario One, the house is still winterized. In Scenario Two the house has been de-winterized, and this is where the surprises usually show their smiling faces.
Scenario one is pretty simple. None of the plumbing related systems can be inspected beyond purely visual observation. Most people think this means that we simply can't flush toilets or check sinks and tubs. But what about the dishwasher, the ice-maker, the washing machine connections, boilers, and one of the most potentially dangerous, the water heater? You've guessed it--we can't inspect those either. For the most part, inspections usually stop right there and need to be re-scheduled. Sometimes, though, I have had clients and agents ask me to inspect what can be inspected and to come back for a revisit to complete the inspection.
Scenario two is the potentially scary one. When I go into a property that has been recently de-winterized, my first question is who de-winterized and when? I am happy when it was done, or at lease said to be done, by a professional. I am less happy when a non-professional has simply come out and turned on the water. When this second possibility occurs, I usually spend a few very hectic minutes moving around and through the house looking and listening for water running where it shouldn't be. If the de-winterizing is not properly done, there can be pipe and water damage that can quickly become a big issue.
Earlier I mentioned that the water heater is potentially dangerous. If a water heater is turned on with no water in it, or with a low water level, it can literally explode. Sometimes taking the whole house with it! If nothing else is done, one must make sure the water heater is completely full before the pilot light is lit or the breaker is thrown. The way I usually do this is to turn on the hot water supplies in the bath tubs and laundry tubs to get the water flowing. If water, even cold water, comes out of the hot side, chances are the water heater is full. Then AND ONLY THEN should the water heater be turned on.
My recommendation is to always push for the professional to do the initial work. They know what to look for and what to do if something does suddenly "come up."
Read Part 1: My House is Winterized! What is Winterization?