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Emptying your bladder... or someone elses... not a good idea

Emptying your bladder...

Water faucetYep, the bladder was emptied, and no one felt good about it. It was inspection time for my listing. (I hope my house inspector friends will chime in on this one.) I got that dreaded phone call from the home owner, they came home at the tail end of the 2 hour plus home inspection. The inspector informed them they had a problem with the well, there was grit all over the jet tub. And yes there was, the tub was full of "stuff".

My clients were more than upset. They assured the buyers and the inspector this never happened before, they have never had any problem with the water. This home is a large colonial 6 years young in beautiful shape. They called the best well guy around who immediately asked if the inspector was running all the water in the house for a long time, and if the jet tub faucets were also opened. Yes indeed, seems the inspector turned all the water on as soon as he came in and left them running the entire time he was working (2 hours). The well guy also said that the jet tub has a larger water pipe running to it, and if things weren't bad enough when the jets were turned on it created a surge which kicked up the sediment in the bladder. Sediment is normal, my client changed the filter after this little experience. The water was clear as a bell after a bit.

WellThe well is fine, we have paper to prove it from one of the best well guys around. We are all comfortable with the results. But I am not comfortable with these type of tests. I went to the town sanitarian today and we discussed it in detail. She agreed with me and gave me documentation from the state of CT that outlines guidelines for a push test when doing a septic inspection.  50 gallons of water per bedroom only, done slowly and steady. But this type of test is to test a septic system! This was not the septic inspection. I understand this can put undue strain on a septic system and can cause what appears to be a failure because of the volume of water being pushed through it. Bad idea all the way around. Better idea to run water from an outside hose into the distribution box to see what happens with the fields, so I was told by the sanitarian.

I see it over and over again and get no clear answer as to why the water needs to be running wide open through the whole house through the entire home inspection. This is not a well yield test, those take hours, the well needs to be emptied, measurements taken. To get water samples you don't have to run water for an hour. I am always upset by this. As are the home owners when they realize what happened.

Cost my client $75 to be told that there was nothing wrong and that running the water like that is a bad idea.

My second gripe? We are in a drought. Why would anyone run water so irresponsibly in a drought situation? I'm just sayin... So, what say you? I am really hoping someone out there can enlighten me as to why this is a common practice and why I am wrong? (I don't think I am, but I am really looking for an explanation here!) I really don't understand the value of this type of test?

And please, don't empty my bladder!

Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County Real Estate

2017 President, Greater New Milford Board of Realtors

2017 Connecticut Magazine 5 Star Realtor


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Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

Litchfield County Regional Office,375 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776


© Andrea Swiedler 2009 - 2017

 Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. - Mark Twain

Comment balloon 27 commentsAndrea Swiedler • July 16 2010 11:35PM


Andrea: That's unfortunate that your client had to go through that. No offense to the highly skilled folks out there that do a great job, but the barriers to entry in the home inspection field are not exactly the highest and it is often a profession that attracts dabblers.

Posted by Matt Grohe, Serving the metro since 2003 (RE/MAX Concepts) over 8 years ago

Hi Andrea~  I can't believe that happened or that they even did that!  What a unnecessary hassle! Sometimes you have to use common sense and some people just don't do that.  I am glad you got it worked out with everyone!

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) over 8 years ago


Wow, you are a guru in that stuff. I have no clue what you are even talking about. Selling condos, I really do not deal with it. Just another time when you see that real estate is different

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) over 8 years ago

Matt, I know some fine home inspectors. Most do this and I get angry every time. I have heard many explanations, but dont' believe one of them! I am looking for an answer here, once and for all. And then there are those that I don't recommend, just like Realtors...

Hi Vickie, this always bothers me, so I decided to blog, LOL.

Jon, we are well and septic people here, what can I say? I would know nothing about your condo-tels, I do love reading about them though! You made me laugh, guru I ain't... always defer to the experts but.. don't run the bladder dry! (bladder in the water tank.... )

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

I like to hear the experts too. My guess would be to run it for a few mnutes.  But I am assuming they are tryin to look at what normal days water look like and if it has been off then they need a good sample that as if time owned had passed for months

Posted by Stanley Stepak, Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake, (Howard Hanna - Avon Lake, OH) over 8 years ago

Amazing the stuff you learn in this business.  Wonder what the reason the inspector had for running the water full on like that for 2 hours....

Posted by Janna Scharf, Coeur d'Alene Idaho Real Estate Expert (Keller Williams Realty Coeur d'Alene) over 8 years ago

Stan, I am waiting for some of my inspector friends here to splain this practice to me!

Janna, it is very typical, and I am always arguing with them. Always get a different answer too Where are all my inspector friends? I would take Nutsy giving me an answer, LOL.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

Andrea, all inspectors like that?  I had one inspector run the water for 2 hours out of every faucet and then told my buyers there was an abnormal amount of bacteria in the water coming from the water heater.  Sediment was forming in the master bath (which was a jetted tub -- interesting).  I had to call in other experts to learn there is no such thing.  Now, would I recommend that home inspector to one of my clients?  Don't think so.  Good luck.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 8 years ago


Running water into a septic system for an hour is asinine. Septic systems work or they don't. A good inspector will know within a few minutes if the system works or not just by witching the field lines and walking them. If you can't witch or find the lines, walk the perimeter and sniff. Smell sewage? You have a problem. 99% of the time I can smell the problem before I find it...


Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Andrea - That is pretty ridiculous. Why on earth would anyone do something like that? An inspector should know better. How about a little common sense?! Yikes.

Posted by Judy Jennings, Broker - The Lanterns at Warren Woods - Ashland MA (The Green Company) over 8 years ago

Full disclosure Andrea is my realtor (the best) and this happened at my house..(not happy) My surprise came when I told a few friends and they had similar experiences..Yikes!! Maybe we need to re evaluate who becomes a "Home Inspector" They do sometimes create problems where there are none..My husband is a contractor and he gets calls all the time from scared customers who were told that there were major electrical problems in their homes they were selling only to have him go to the house and all is just fine...shheesshh... selling a house is stressful enough..thanks again, Andrea you are the best of the best..

Posted by D Fairclough over 8 years ago

Andrea. Some inspectors are just not very bright. I've had them ruin HVAC systems by standing at the thermostat for 30 minutes switching the system back and forth form heating to AC. Of course it blew the system out.

Inspectors that do these things remind me of test driving a car by running it into a brick wall and then saying it doesn't work. Well no shit Sherlock!!!

They just recently made it where inspectors in Florida will need to be licensed. Up until now all they needed was a business card.


Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) over 8 years ago

Pamela, same thing huh? I don't get the point... wasn't a septic inspection anyway.

Michael, this was nothing to do with the septic system. I am really trying to find out the theory behind doing this as many do. I always ask them not to run the water for long at all when they do this. I have gotten a flat "forget it" at times...

Diane, you are too kind, thank you. You are the best clients anyway!

BB, wow, that is amazing, simply amazing!

Now don't get me wrong here, I have a great relationship with some inspectors and have great respect. I am really trying to find out the logic of doing this!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

Andrea, nothing makes me crazier than an idiot home inspector.  We need to clone some of the guys on Active Rain!

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 8 years ago

That inspector was wrong in running the water in the entire home for the duration of the inspection. This is actually quite a deep subject (no pun intended :)). The water running inspector should be presented with that $75 bill for his ignorance.

The method of running water in the home is unfortunately quite common. If you may recall I use a flow meter attached to an outside hose spigot. I set the meter (I try for around 5 GPM) and monitor the flow until a certain quantity of water has been drawn. I do not run the water unmeter for the entire time of the inspection down the drains and into the septic system. That is plain STUPID!

Also testing a septic system (if that was this guys intent) by "push test" is not an a preferred method for testing the system. The Connecticut DPH covers septic testing in this buyers guide. Septic inspections should be done by a certified septic installer, period. Home inspectors have no business inspecting septic systems in my opinion.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 8 years ago


Almost had a deal go belly up over a similar issue. House had been vacant. Septic inspector ran water from every tap and "suddenly" it stopped. Buyers' agent phoned me to say the well was shot and the seller had to replace the pump.

Same day, we got the report from the septic expert, who indicated he had run 250 gallons into the septic when the well quit. I knew what time the agent phoned to yell at me. I checked to see when she accessed the lockbox. Lapsed time was 45 minutes.  I was able to provide documents from 4 authoritative sources showing 250 gallons in less than an hour was quite fine. Added a few photos of the water coming from the tap the following morning and we closed a couple days later!

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) over 8 years ago
Andrea - I have nothing to add to the conversation regarding the "bladder" problems, but I am so impressed with the "over and above" job you are doing for your clients with your investigative work. I hope they know how fortunate they are to have you as their Realtor!
Posted by Patsy Overton (Patsy Overton Interiors, Atlanta, Georgia) over 8 years ago

Andrea, thanks for letting us know of these issues.  It really does waive a red flag to our industry when such irresponsibility is out there.  This could have caused many more problems than just that.

Posted by Don Spera, Serving York and Adams County, PA (CR Property Group, LLC) over 8 years ago

Have you spoken with the home inspector who did this?  In our home inspection addendum, the buyer is responsible for any damage caused by the home inspector - if that's true in your area, I'd be sending that $75 bill to the buyer.

I agree, this was irresponsible and ignorant, and I'd be black-listing that home inspector for both my buyers and sellers.

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Andrea, being on the Mortgage end I am normally not part of these inspections except for obtaining a map showing the location of the Well, Septic, and Leach Fields if it is an FHA Insured Loan.  Other than that we just need to know if it is an engineered system or not.

This process that you discribed does seem to be a little strange to me, and if the Home Inspector caused the problem then he/she should be responsible for the $75.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

One of the many reasons why I am at all inspections -- on the buyer AND seller side.  When I see something like this, I (nicely) ask the inspector if this is a standard way of testing things.

Posted by Richard Strahm, Lansdale and North Penn Real Estate (American Foursquare Realty) over 8 years ago

Wow this is totally new info for me - I have never run into this in 24 years.  Perhaps we just do it differently out west.  Sounds really stupid to me - I don't get it.  Like BB said there are some 'inspectors' that are not qulified like they should be - his AC example is a good one. Sounds like the water thing is similiar to somebody being so stupid as to switch back and forth with AC to Heat. Everyone here knows that is NOT done.

Posted by Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886, Arizona's Top Banana! (Phoenix Property Shoppe) over 8 years ago

Andrea - It sure sounds like the home inspector was really not following proper protocol!

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 8 years ago

Andrea, Jim above is right on with his comment. That inspector showed more of what he doesn't know than what he does know. As you are so adept with giving accolades to people that you come into contact with when they do a good job, maybe it's time for you to give this inspector his special kudos? Hopefully his poor judgment and lack of proper techniques won't spoil the deal.

On another note, I presume that with this blog and it's content, that technology has been restored?

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 8 years ago

Pat, we do need to clone some of these guys here. Just infuriates me...

Jim, I remember that test you did. We have a septic inspector around here who does that. The problem is too many of them do this, and there is nothing I can say or do to move them off the deep subject. I am wrong, they are right. Then we get in a bit of a pissing match as you can imagine. When I am the listing agent I try to attend inspections, hanging around in the background, for this very reason. I couldn't be there for this one. Grrrrr...

Irene, what are they thinking.... just let me know. Good thing you were able to get the experts to say otherwise. Duh...

Patsy, why thank you! I do appreciate it.

Don, it really could have. And, really, the lack of rain we have experienced have put alerts out to conserve water. That does apply to individual home owners who have their own wells, they need to be smart.

Margaret, I have not, I don't yet know who he is. But I do know both he and the agent are adamant he did nothing wrong. It is hard to prove he did something wrong, it is a common practice here. And it is a stupid practice.

George, we need firmer guidelines in the state against this practice. I know how our town Sanitarian feels about it... I know how I feel about it, and I know how the home owners react...

Richard, I was unable to attend, I do most every time for my listings too. And here, it is standard and stupid.

Anna, I believe you are more cautious about water there. It is dumb.

Bill, I wish there were real guidelines from the state, but there are not. I am not happy.

Ed, yes indeed. I always ask when they turn on the water "how long do you intend to leave the water running, please do not leave it running for long at all". Then we get in a pissing match, I get huffy, etc. If it is someone I know well and have recommended, I give them that look... you know the look I am sure. Water goes off..... And I am half up and running, still need a new modem though.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 8 years ago

I don't think I would be very happy about all this either. Seems a little excessive if you ask me, but there is always someone that needs to go overboard.

Posted by JL Boney, III, Columbia, SC Real Estate (Coldwell Banker) over 8 years ago

Hi Andrea ~ Your title cracks me up - sure thought I was going to be reading about something else. Your post makes me really happy about city water and sewer. And I'm floored that an inspector would run water for that length of time - that's outrageous!


Posted by Elizabeth Bolton, Cambridge MA Realtor (RE/MAX Destiny Real Estate Cambridge, MA) over 8 years ago