My Grandfather and then my father seemed like they wore sweaters pretty much all year as they got older. You could say they were ‘winterized,’ but that’s not what I’m asking.
As a youngster growing up in a non-air conditioned house, winterized meant the screens were taken off the windows and the storm windows were installed. The furnace was serviced and the boiler lit. If you’re a home owner already the term “winterized’ may mean something similar to you.
My concern as a home inspector though deals with those homes that have had their electricity and water turned off to save money during an extended vacancy. Usually bank owned properties.
On more than one occasion I have scheduled an inspection for a client only to find out that the home has been ‘winterized.’ Hopefully I can find this out before the scheduled time has arrived and the inspection can be postponed until such time as the utilities have been restored.
A Home Inspector simply cannot perform a thorough inspection without running water or electricity. Toilets can’t be flushed, faucets cannot be operated to check for proper water flow, and with nothing to drain… well you can’t very well check for proper drainage or leaks.
No electricity, no heat, hence the reason the water was turned off to start with; to prevent the pipes from freezing. So now the Home Inspector can’t check outlets, switches, light fixtures, appliances, garage door openers…the list goes on. Wouldn’t you like to know if your heat or air conditioning actually operates? We forget how much we depend on the daily convenience of all these things.
Despite all the precautions taken to prevent pipe freezing when the electricity is turned off (typically an anti-freeze is added to the water remaining in the pipes), a house I was contracted to inspect recently suffered broken pipes when the water was restored. The necessary repairs created over a month of delay before a home inspection could be performed.
Now you know the reason a Home Inspector will not turn on the utilities in a ‘winterized’ home. It is the seller’s responsibility to insure utilities are turned on at the time of inspection and make any repairs should damage occur.
Inspecting a house without these items, well. . .it’s not really inspecting a house!