What I'm Seeing Now


Hide and Seek Water Heater

The water heater was no where to be found. 

There was this fine laundry room, beside the fine "bathroom" (door to the right).  That bath could be a story in itself, but I digress.

The laundry room was special in its own right.  You can see the water connection on the wall.  And there was no drain, so I assumed that the washer drained into that special floor drain in the foreground.  That is packaging tape over it now - keeps the snakes out.

I don't know where that floor drain goes.  Perhaps to the creek behind the house.

The dryer receptacle is on the wall, just hanging around waiting for a dryer.  It really was hanging - it should have been attached to a stud, assuming there is actually a stud back there.

That receptacle strip on the floor probably serviced the washing machine, or so I assumed.  It comes from somewhere - I never did find out where it was plugged in.  Perhaps to a receptacle behind the drywall, but I did NOT want to assume that.

The dryer vent is on the wall just to the left of that dryer receptacle.  I know you don't see it, but it is there.  At least it's outdoors, and from it you can see the back side of what I assumed to be the drywall.

Where does that plug in the receptacle strip come from?  Ah, the mystery!  I had to bet it was from something in the water heater closet.  That is, IF, the biggest word in the English language, IF the water heater is where we assumed it to be.

As you know, I cannot be invasive on a home inspection, and wasn't.

But what about the Realtor?!  I think we found ourselves a LOOP HOLE!!

And there it was!  With just a gentle invasion of the wall we found the water heater!  The Hardy Boys could not have done better!  The shut-off valve for the rear hose bib was there too!

This is very comical!  You need to know all that is going on here.

To the left is the fabulous "kitchen" "sink" "installed" in the "counter."  I use those terms loosely, hence the ""s.  There was a lot of leaking, creating what I assumed to be mold.  I cannot say it was mold, for legal reasons.  We would have to do a mold test.  But, it was mold...

The "sink" drains into an ejector pump in the floor in front of the water heater.  The "bathroom" drains there too.  I did not have to assume that because the cover was not sealed and when we ran the "bathroom" water you could tell that it must have been draining there for some time.  A long time.  You catch my drift? 

Good thing you aren't catching the drift I did when we gently opened that space up...

Do you see the cable coming out of the wall?  That is connected to the ejector pump, and that's what is plugged into the receptacle strip in the upper photo.  The vertical drain line for the ejector pump is visible just to the left of the gentle wall opening. 

When we ran the ejector pump it seemed to drain into the house DWV line.  I assumed that anyway because I could hear it.  It might go into that creek behind too, for all I know...

I get to have fun like this nearly every day!

Laughing is good medicine.  I am very healthy, and now you know why!  I LAUGH A LOT...!!

You can assume that I love my job.  Fortunately I live in an area where the local, shall we say, population provides me lots of opportunity to laugh and very good health.  Don't assume otherwise!

My recommendation:  If you can't find a water heater, you should assume you need to get a Realtor involved.  A strong one... 

And, unlike a mortgage, that would be a great assumption!


Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 6 commentsJay Markanich • October 10 2009 05:07PM


Yes, there is  always something NEW and interesting with our job as real estate agents!!  I think there is a little detective in all of us realtors!! :)

Posted by Sonja Patterson, Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou (Keller Williams - BV) over 11 years ago

Jay, nice post.  It's good to be "creative" sometimes.  I've discovered that my colleagues on the other side of a transaction aren't always proactive.  So I've made it a point to send an email with the day and time of the inspection along with a request to make sure everything is accessible.  I ask them to have their clients clear out the closets where the crawlspace and attic access may be so we don't damage their seller's items and to tell us up front about anything we should know, like a hidden water heater.

Keep laughing, it's the best medicine.


Posted by Dan Tabit (Keller Williams Bellevue) over 11 years ago

Sonja - how's your punch?

Dan - the water heater should always be accessible!  I usually don't move things, unless I know there's a problem I have to see.  In this case, I simply could not do in that wall.  It seems the realtor has a pretty good punch!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

Jay, the last one of those that I had it had been leaking for 10 years----kind of a mess inside and the people had been wondering why the basement always smelled funky:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 11 years ago


I had one once where I never found it. I know, from the TPR drain that it was permanently built into the countertop by the kitchen sink...but zero access anywhere.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Charlie - nothing like a little cause and effect.  How can you live with something like that for 10 years and not be curious as to why!?

Steve - I occassionally see the stubby water heater under kitchen cabinets.  Personally I think that is a stupid installation if there is no access.  What if you have Charlie's problem above?  How do you get to it?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 11 years ago

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