Vacant house not winterized for 3 years (Atlanta)

Hello All,

I have a house under contract for $ 174k. It’s an estate sale, not an REO. The house has been vacant for 3 years. I brought in various inspectors (home, electrical, plumbing, mold). There’s mold in the basement, wood rot around the house, sewer line issues (tree roots growing & bellied line). I had quotes to remediate these problems and am in the process of re-negotiating these new costs off the purchase price. However, I just learned that the house was NOT winterized for 3years, after I did all my inspections. My plumber mentioned no serious issues “inside” the house. How bad can NOT winterizing a 3 year-vacant home be? Though the pipes have not bursted (yet?!) , how can I or my plumber know the damage, if any, of an un-winterized house? REO houses in my area are usually winterized. But since this is being sold by the children of the deceased owner, I guess they didn’t think/care to run the AC a little to ventilate & help avoid the mold, or winterize the home during these 3 years.

I’d appreciate any input.

If the pipes didn’t burst, that’s about all the “winterizing” would proptect anyway. The rest would be vandals, vermin and the like…that’s more about being vacant and not watched than winter damage. How bad could winter damage in Atlanta be, anyway? Normally, it has to be very cold for a stretch to freeze/break the pipes.


Keith, thanks for your response. It can get down to the single digit temperatures on some Atlanta winter days. I figured if banks winterized their inventory here, this house should have been as well but wasn’t. I was just wondering if after 4 winters, would these pipes be in any less working condition or just its life shortened. If I’m understanding you correctly, if the pipes haven’t burst, it’s not really an issue?

<<If I’m understanding you correctly, if the pipes haven’t burst, it’s not really an issue?>>

Nope, not really an issue…generally speaking the pipes burst or they don’t (if they freeze, they can stretch some causing weak spots). What happens is that the water lays in the pipes (often in a joint of a bend) and when it freezes, the ice expands beyond what the water was and, having nowhere else to go, bursts the pipes. Copper pipes are significantly more susceptable than steel/iron, though in New England, I’ve seen steel pipes burst.

<<It can get down to the single digit temperatures on some Atlanta winter days. >>

It was -16 last Tuesday and -13 last Thursday here!


The best way to tell for sure is to have the water turned back on at the street. You can actually do this yourself without getting the water department involved. If it’s a municiple (city or town) water system (not well water) the shut off is either under a 4" diameter cover in the street or on the front lawn. Most excavation contractors have the tool used to turn the value on an off. Your plumber should have one too. It’s a 4 foot long metal rod with a 2 pronged fork on the end. You pull the cover off the street or lawn and lower the rod into the hole. As you move the forks around you’ll feel them engage, righty tighty, lefty loosey. Pressurize the system and check for leaks. Then simply shut off the value. ( SECRET TIP>>>>>>LEAVE THE TOOL ON THE VALVE WHEN TESTING>>>IF SYSTEM DOES LEAK YOU CAN QUICKLY TURN IT OFF!!!) Instead of lookinf like a complete nit wit trying to FIND the value as your plumber screams for you to SHUT IT DOWN!!! I’ve HEARD of this happening and inorder to protect the innocent, I’ve changed their names :help

Around this part there is a lock you would have to cut off to do it yourself. This city would probably throw me in jail for a few years for that one.


I’ve seen the same idiots run GAS LINES from tee’s tied into gas meters with GARDEN HOSES!!!

What were the NIT WITS last words???

HEY… WATCH THIS!!! :biggrin

I've seen the same idiots run GAS LINES from tee's tied into gas meters with GARDEN HOSES!!!!!!!!

It’s even better when they use a lighter to look for leaks! :shocked

Not if it was in Atlanta…it would have been (grabbing his beer), “Hey, y’all watch this here”!!