Air Testing Water Pipes On Winterized Properties

By
Home Inspector with Structure Tech Home Inspections

I recently had a friend ask me if I could do an air test on the water pipes of a bank-owned home he's buying.   Traditionally, these types of requests have been few and far between, but I've been getting more and more people asking about this with the high number of winterized bank owned properties for sale.  I've always told my customers that we don't do this, but I've decided that it's time to start offering this service.

A pressure test is a way of checking for leaks in the water piping without actually having any water in the pipes.  This consists of connecting an air compressor to the water piping, typically at the laundry faucet or exterior sillcock, and pressurizing the pipes to about 60 psi with air.  This is similar to the water pressure that most homes will have from the street.

Air Testing I use the device pictured at the right to connect an air compressor to the water piping.  I make sure all of the faucets are turned off, then I pressurize the pipes.  If they hold pressure, that's good.  I then disconnect the air hose and leave the pressure gauge in place for the rest of the inspection.  I come back at the end of my inspection and check the gauge to make sure the pressure hasn't dropped.  If it has, there's a leak.

The limitations of this test are that I cannot check the drains, vents, traps, or plumbing fixtures for leaks, but it's better than nothing.   I'll be charging a small fee to do this test with an inspection.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Minneapolis Home Inspections

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air pressure testing
frozen water pipes
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winterized properties

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Rainmaker
229,337
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Will - I've never heard of someone using a stethoscope.  I'll definitely remember that.  Here in MN, bank almost always de-winterize the home as part of the purchase, but as in your case, not always.

July 13, 2011 06:41 AM
Anonymous #23
Anonymous
Mike

we are looking at a slab home which HUD has-they have done a pressure check and suspect leaks.  They will not let us turn the water on for an inspection but said we could air test.  The comment of using a steoscope worked on walls but with it being a slab house would this be a house to steer clear of??

November 04, 2011 09:39 PM
Rainmaker
229,337
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Mike - worst case scenario is that you have to replace all of the water piping in the house.  If I wanted a house, that wouldn't be a deal killer for me.  In other words, no need to steer clear of the house - just go in to the deal prepared to spend some money.

November 05, 2011 07:15 AM
Anonymous #25
Anonymous
Andrea

I am under contract with a HUD home now. HUD stated that Via compressor, plumbing system failed pressure test; and states that there is damaged plumbing.

Well we are supposed to have the home inspected on Wednesday and on Monday my realtor said that HUD will not let us turn on the water. My husband is extremely upset and doesn't see the point in paying a home inspector when the inspector can't even check what HUD is saying is damaged.

My husband said it's like buying a car that has something wrong with the engine but the seller won't let you check out the engine before you buy the car. We had to give earnest money and the only way we can get it back is if a home inspector states something is wrong with the home; so no matter what we are losing $300 to $500.

This is our first time to try and purchase a home and it has been a horrible experience. How can we go through with this purchase without having any idea of how much damage there is or around about how much it will cost to be fixed.

April 24, 2012 06:59 AM
Rainmaker
229,337
Reuben Saltzman
Minneapolis Home Inspections
Structure Tech Home Inspections

Andrea - that sounds very frustrating.  I wouldn't be happy either.  Are you sure that you can only get out of the deal if the inspector says something is wrong with the home?  I recommend you read the language of your purchase agreement very carefully.  It might be much easier than that.  Here in Minnesota it certainly would be.  

April 24, 2012 11:26 AM
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