Protect Yourself From Frozen Pipes

Let me tell you a story where the Home Seller Lost a Ton of Money on his vacant house. He failed to consider that in winter in Kansas City pipes in a vacant house with no heat will freeze. When they freeze they break. He failed to protect himself against frozen pipes.

Failure to Protect Against Frozen Pipes

We got a call from a home seller in the middle of the wintertime. We had just gone through a weekend of below zero and an ice storm. It was so cold, that we didn’t even want to go look at it. The house was vacant.

It was just down the street from our office . . . a cute little Tudor house with a family room addition. The numbers he wanted sounded decent. We thought it would be a house that we would want to buy if it was in as good a condition as he said it was.

He had taken a new job out of state and moved out. He just needed it sold so he could buy a new house where he had moved.

We walked in the back door and everything was COLD and smelled damp. This was our first clue of problems. We were entering through the family room addition. Your typical 1950 add-on with vinyl flooring and paneling walls. Everything seemed fine at first.

Then entered the Dining room. We noted that the hardwood floors and doors were dark wood and in very good shape. But something was off. They seemed a bit frosty like water had condensed and then frozen. The Kitchen was a typical 1930s Kitchen that needed to be renovated. It too seemed to have a frosty look of all the surfaces.

Then we went into the bathroom. Now I have seen this a few times before, but not quite as spectacular. The toilet had frozen. Then it exploded and broke into two pieces.

Then we went to the basement. There we found crunchy frozen carpet and evidence of a lot of water that had been running and freezing.

The homeowner it seems had decided to shut off the gas to save money. But in his haste, had failed to shut off the water and winterize the plumbing. And after 2 weeks of below zero, he had massively frozen pipes and broken plumbing. But other than broken pipes and sparkly surfaces, we could not tell the extent of the damage.

So we called him to tell him the bad news. He had massive water damage and while we would still make an offer, we would need to see it after it thawed out to see how bad it really was. We looked at it again about a week later. The hardwood floors had buckled pretty much throughout the house. The walls and finish in the basement were all destroyed. He had people in the house ripping it all out.

We suggested to him to check in with his insurance to see what they would cover and then get back to us. But he never really did get back with us. Not sure if he was able to get the insurance company to come in and fix things or if he just let it set and go to foreclosure. As he had not lived in the house for more than 60 days, I am going to guess that his insurance did not cover the damage as the average homeowner’s policy does not usually cover anything after 30 to 60 days of vacancy.

So to all of you potential home sellers out there in the Kansas City Market. Please take the time to shut off your water and winterize your house if it is going to be vacant after about November 1st until about mid-April. Also check with your insurance agent to make sure you are going to still be insured, even if the house is sitting vacant.


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