Turning On Water at a Vacant Property

Posted on October 3, 2011 by

water leaksNot long ago, I got a call from a guy who regularly attends our real estate investing meetings.  He was on his way to meet the water guy to have the water turned on to a property he had bought two days before at the monthly foreclosure auction.  He was all excited and wanted to share his joy.

After learning what he was about to do, I asked, “How many folks do you have with you?”  “Just me,” he answered.  “Then you shouldn’t turn on the water TO the house until you’ve inspected the plumbing and have two or three people watching IN the house,” I advised.  “Why should I wait?” he asked.  “Because you may discover that you have an unexpected fountain or two in the property.  These unexpected fountains can cost you thousands of dollars and take weeks to repair!”

Over the years, Kim and I have bought a lot of properties.  Here are a few of the biggest (and most expensive) lessons we’ve learned concerning turning on the water at a property – which seems like a simple task…but rarely is

First, when we go to the water department to request new service, we do so with the following instructions: Please turn on water at the street BUT DO NOT TURN IT ON TO THE HOUSE!  This simply means that the water valve is unlocked at the street, but the value is not turned on to the house.  We turn on the valve ourselves, but not until we’re ready to do so. 

Second, we make sure all faucets and the washing machine hot and cold supply valves are off.  (NOTE: We often cap the washing machine supply valves.)

Third, we make sure the flapper is down in each toilet.

Fourth, we inspect the toilet and sink supply-line fittings.  We often find fittings that are loose or just plain missing.

Fifth, if there’s a supply line for an icemaker, we cap the supply line.  Rarely do we find icemaker lines that don’t leak – at least a little.

Sixth, if the home had waterlines in the attic or in an unheated basement or garage, we inspect the lines for any breaks or ruptures caused by freezing temperatures.  And while we’re there, if the house has copper waterlines, we make sure that some unseen passerby hasn’t stolen them.

Finally, when it’s time to turn the water on, we have two or three people in different parts of the house watching for big and small leaks.  If someone sees a leak, the water is turned off, the leak is fixed, and we try again until no leaks are found.

Yeah, I know, pretty boring stuff.  But the first time you experience the excitement of watching water pouring out of your house, you’ll quickly realize that boring is a good thing!

Bill & Kim CookBill & Kim Cook are a husband and wife real estate investing team. They live in Adairsville, Georgia and have been investing in real estate since 1995. They specialize in buying single-family homes, mobile homes and mobile home parks. They also run North Georgia REIA and teach folks how to successfully invest in real estate.


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