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  1. #1
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    Jan 2010
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    Unhappy Buying a home but the heat isn't on

    I have made an offer on a home that is currently vacant and the owners have no heat in the home. *It is an older home and I am concerned that there could be frozen pipes due to the cold temperatures. *Of all the issues that we might find during inspection this one is the most concerning for me.

    *If there are burst pipes would there be a way to find out how much it would cost to get the plumbing up and running again? *Should I consider having a plumber come out and check the home even if I don't think the pipes have burst just to be sure? Also, should I turn off the master water valve going into the home from the city and turn on the heat allowing the pipes to thaw or should I not thaw them until I have found any bursts?

    It is a one story home with a basement and only one bath so I don't think it would be very hard to get to most of the pipes.

    What would you do in this situation aside from walking away from the home?

    Thanks,

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Buying a home but the heat isn't on

    I would call a plumber and have him install an air test on the whole system to find any leaks, this will confirm any problems without any water damages, the plumber, if working with a ranch type house should have no problem repairing the issues if any. Shan72

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Buying a home but the heat isn't on

    Frozen pipes happen to almost yearly since I own a wood stove. Some years the pipes have burst, others they haven't. To prevent this in the future insulate/wrap your pipes.

    I would definetly call a plumber to oversee the problem and help you thaw the pipes and shut the water off to the house. If the pipes burst you do not want the water supply on. My pipes burst in the middle of the night and I shut off the water supply so the only water that went on the hard wood floors, carpets and down the walls was the water from the baseboard line so it wasn't that bad.


    If you turn the heat on and you have heat in at least one zone turn it up high to help thaw them. When my pipes freeze I feel them in different places for coldness and have found the affected areas and used a blow dryer to thaw them. I takes a couple of hrs (do not leave the blow dryer unattended for fire safety reasons)but it works and the pipes have not burst. Any it doesn't cost anything.

    I would start in the corners of your house. I've had many frozen pipes before and they always end up being the corners of the house and between the floor and ceiling.

    Hope it works out for you!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Buying a home but the heat isn't on

    Quote Originally Posted by Rdiddy View Post
    I have made an offer on a home that is currently vacant and the owners have no heat in the home. *It is an older home and I am concerned that there could be frozen pipes due to the cold temperatures. *Of all the issues that we might find during inspection this one is the most concerning for me.

    *If there are burst pipes would there be a way to find out how much it would cost to get the plumbing up and running again? *Should I consider having a plumber come out and check the home even if I don't think the pipes have burst just to be sure? Also, should I turn off the master water valve going into the home from the city and turn on the heat allowing the pipes to thaw or should I not thaw them until I have found any bursts?

    It is a one story home with a basement and only one bath so I don't think it would be very hard to get to most of the pipes.

    What would you do in this situation aside from walking away from the home?

    Thanks,
    Depends what you mean by cold temps.


    If the interior of the home has been at 20 F or below for an extended period then consider having all the supply plumbing and fixtures replaced. Doing this before moving in will be less of a pain than after having all your belongings in and /or remodling getting damaged from leaks.
    Based on the description of the home the plumbing rework should be pretty straight forward.

    You have the hot water tank ( which is likely turned off ) ---- the toilet --- all the water supply lines ( both hot and cold ) --- all the faucet cartridges and seals ---- the shutoff valves ---- P traps --- that would be damaged or stressed if they weren't drained

    Assuming the water lines are copper ......

    Copper pipes will take a fair amount of pressure from the standing water freezing before bursting ----- Copper is a soft and malleable material which stretches before tearing open . However , even though the frozen water is thawed and the pipe hadn't burst --- it has become weak from the streatching.

    Also, when the standing water freezes and expands it's the points of restriction that create the problems. Areas like 90's and other soldered joints will become stressed from the increased expansion and contraction.

    There may or may not be issues when the pipes are thawed and water flow is restored but you stand a good chance of annoying leaks later on.

    Try this experiment at home ---- take a plastic bottle filled with water and put it into your freezer for a few days. You will see how the bottle distorts and may split open.

    Hot water tank ----depending if it's a stand alone electric or fuel fired --- if allowed to freeze solid could damage the glass lining which will cause the tank to eventually rust and leak.
    The plastic dip tube may crack or break inside.

    Toilet ---- will crack when the water in the tank and bowl freeze solid

    Faucets and shutoffs ---- seals and cartridges will leak when water is frozen solid

    Personally I wouldn't bother with having a plumber do an air pressure test since this would mean having to disconnect and cap every pipe ---- which would reveal immediate problems but, may not reveal any future issues. Besides--- for the cost of this test you might put that toward the replacement.

    All this should also be reflected in the reduction of the purchase price for the home.

    2 cents.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
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    Default Okay found out that

    the water was shut off in the home well before any cold temperatures rolled in. I am going to assume that this is a better situation than having the lines pressurized and then freezing as there won't be water nor pressure in the lines.

    Is that a correct assumption? I think there could still be problems but not as bad as the alternative.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Buying a home but the heat isn't on

    Not really.

    Shutting off the main helps in the event of the pipes bursting you won't have continious water flowing and flooding the home.

    As jkirk mentioned ----- unless the lines were drained there's still water in the lines.


    If the water tank and toilets were drained or had antifreeze put in then there might not be as much issues.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Buying a home but the heat isn't on

    It will not be evident just what frost damage has been done until both the heat and the water are back on.

    An air test won't reveal all possible freeze breaks if the house is still cold enough to freeze water.

    For your protection, have the contract written to say that the seller will pay for any freeze damage that shows up when the heat and water are turned on.

    Or, require that he do this before the deal is closed.

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