What I'm Seeing Now

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This Is A Must Be - Access To Shut-Off Valves "Shall Be Provided."

This is a must - access to shut-off valves "shall be provided."

And especially the water main valve.

Why wouldn't easy access to the water main valve be provided?  It's an ESSENTIAL valve!  If water to the house needs to be shut off for emergencies you want quick and easy access to the valve.

The code is unusually simple.  From the International Residency Code, subscribed to by the Virginia Residency and Plumbing Codes -

Access to valves.  Access shall be provided to all full-open valves and shut-off valves.

The bold there was my contribution.  And that's all valves - main, hose, water heater, fixtures, etc.

So why am I seeing this more and more?

Obviously neither of these photos show access.

On the left the red arrows point to two different shut-off valves beside a stackable washer/dryer shoved as far to the right side as the wall would allow.  That opening is only 6".  Nobody at the inspection could reach either one, even the long arms of the home inspector.

And on the right the access to the valve beside the water heater is 2".

It was apparent and fortunate that neither homeowner needed to shut the water off!

I also suggest to my clients that the water main be turned off when homeowners leave for vacation.  Why leave the plumbing pressurized when nobody is in the house?  If a problem happens, and no one is there to see it, the house can literally fill with water which isn't discovered until after people return.  And what a return home that would be!

My recommendation:  make sure there is easy and available access to all water valves, particularly the water main valve!  Test them periodically to make sure they work properly!  And turn off the water main even if you might only be leaving for the weekend.  It's easy to do and a practice that may avoid a huge problem.

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

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

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 15 commentsJay Markanich • April 05 2017 09:41AM

Comments

Good morning, Jay Markanich why bother having a shut off valve if you don't have access to it.... what are people thinking when they box in the shut off valve..

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 3 years ago

A shut off valve is useless if you can't shut it off! 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (406-270-3667, kat@thehousekat.com, Broker, Blackstone Realty Group - brokered by eXp Realty) over 3 years ago

It's the most essential valve in the house, Barbara.  But any leaking valve becomes the most essential at the moment!

True, Kat.  It was comical trying to get everyone at the inspection trying to reach that valve beside the W/D.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Good morning Jay. You just can't fix stupid! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 3 years ago

Jay Markanich What a serious disaster waiting to happen. I certainly hope a change was made with this plumbing?

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc.) over 3 years ago

Man, lots of older homes here that have no main water shut off other than at the street by the meter. 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 3 years ago

It is hard, Wayne, but there is a God above.  The fix may have to go that high...

S&N- two different houses, two different inspections, but I see them so often now!  Remodeling sometimes does in the access!  Not good.

Fred - given all the modern codes regarding access, ASTM approved kind of valve, bleeder valves, etc I wonder if they would require a change should any serious remodeling happen.

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

I live in the country and depend on well and septic for my house.  One of my biggest fears was for the main water line to rupture in the basement and the well pump and pressure sensor keep trying to pressurize the tank.  So I installed this Leak Defender and placed the puck between the pressure tank and the water heater.  If water is detected, the power to the well pump is automatically shut off.  Let's hope I never gets tested under real life circumstances.  Leak Defender

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 3 years ago

Stephen - I hear if you give that puck a hard slap shot on water it hydroplanes!

Good idea.  Do you have a generator?

Nice new-looking pressure tank.  Looks like your pressure is >50psi.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Not the type of access one would need when having to shut off the water in a hurry. Poorly designed

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 3 years ago

It's called remodeling, Ed, and done by homeowners, or contractors, who are not thinking ahead.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Jay- this falls in the "what the heck were they thinking" category.  In Houston, many of the pipes were placed in the attic.  You can imagine what it was like when we had a hard freeze.  We made sure our tenants knew where the shut-off valve was. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 3 years ago

I didn't think there were many hard freezes in Houston, Kathy!  I was a Memorial Herman Hospital in 2015 for my heart surgeries after my electric shock during a home inspection.  I was pretty warm in April and May!

Hopefully the shut offs were in the main house and accessible!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

It is always amazing to us when people have no idea where it is they shut the water off !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 3 years ago

Ay, ay Cap'n!  I always try to find the valve and show my clients.  Then I demonstrate that the handle can be turned.  If it is stiff I note it on the report.

If we can't find it I note on the report that the seller needs to identify where it is or install one that is visible and accessible.

Simple enough.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

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