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3ft of Water/Sewer Backup - Buying home this week?

nz
nz Member Posts: 93
I am in the process of purchasing a new home which has a five year old Weil-McLain 340k-600k btu natural gas hot water boiler (four zones), and two 75-gallon (can't remember manufacturer) hot water tanks of a similar age.

Due to heavy storms over the weekend, the city where the home is located received over 8 inches of water in a 12 hour period, overwhelming the local and regional storm and sewer systems. As a result, the home I am supposed to be closing on this week flooded with over three feet of combined rainwater and sewage, leaving a coating of muck everywhere. The boiler is sitting on bricks, so it is only elevated about 3-4 inches above the floor.

The current homeowner(seller) had this happen before in 2016, and kept the majority of the insurance money while only replacing the boiler and water heaters. They did not install sump pumps, backwater valves, etc. This time, the homeowner has no insurance for sewer backup, so they will have to pay for the clean up/remediation and "repair" of the flooded boiler and water heaters. As this will be out of pocket, cost will be a major factor, and whomever they hire to "repair" the flooded mechanical equipment may not have an entirely unbiased opinion as they let slip that they know the owners.

Looking for advice from the experts here:

Is it reasonable to expect that a hot water boiler and water heaters can be safely repaired and operated after being flooded with three feet of sewage? Or do they need to be replaced?


My concern is that the contractor the seller hired will say "i got them working again" but then we will begin to experience issues months or years earlier...i.e., their useful life has been severely shortened.

I have reached out to Weil-McLain for their official stance, and trying to get the manufacturer of the hot water heaters to do the same.

Comments

  • Wellness
    Wellness Member Posts: 122
    Even though it's a sellers' market; I would not rely on the seller to tell me what damage has been done to the boiler and how much it would cost to fix it. I'd hire my own expert and deduct those costs from the purchase price.
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 6,790
    Any gas-burning appliance that has been submerged should be replaced with new.
    If you need backup, ask the manufacture of the appliance.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
    mattmia2Canuckerrick in Alaska
  • SlamDunk
    SlamDunk Member Posts: 1,073
    edited June 28
    Walk away or reduce your offer to cover the cost of clean up and replacement. You were just blessed this happened last week and not next week!!
    rick in Alaska
  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,766
    @nz , Weil-McLain has specific instructions for boilers that have been flooded. Go here:

    https://www.weil-mclain.com/news/servicing-flooded-boilers

    I'll agree with @SlamDunk - either all new equipment, or walk away.
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
    CLamb
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,848
    After buying a house and dealing with the kind of repairs the person selling it will typically make there is absolutely no way I would want any part of it.

    All new and properly installed or forget it.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    mattmia2Canucker
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,690
    Walk away unless you get a deduct to cover everything.

    Do not let the current owner replace the equipment you will get a shoddy job
    mattmia2
  • STEVEusaPA
    STEVEusaPA Member Posts: 5,188
    edited June 28
    You may not be able to just 'walk away' without losing your deposit at best, or far worse. Check with at least your realtor, then a real estate attorney.
    They should be replaced. But if they let you, take the money and install a wall hung boiler thru you're own contractor (after a proper heat loss is performed). Then it's your contractor, your warranty, etc.
    I'd also seriously consider a few sump pumps with battery back up, or better yet, a whole house generator. As this problem will happen again.
    And it wouldn't surprise me if you get water in the basement more often.
    I assume you have a septic tank
    steve
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,677
    Were you part of the great lakes water authority pumping station failure that flooded much of detroit and dearborn?
  • nz
    nz Member Posts: 93
    mattmia2 said:

    Were you part of the great lakes water authority pumping station failure that flooded much of detroit and dearborn?

    Yes. Seems like some pump station somewhere "fails" every time it rains a lot around here. I'm not sure what defines a failure though, that's a very broad term...did it lose power? burn out? someone forgot to hit the on-button? water level too high?

    This isn't the first time it has happened and certainly won't be the last time, so I will certainly make sure the appropriate water mitigation controls are put in place. (Multiple sump pumps, backwater valve, etc.)

    Side note: thanks for all the feedback...I appreciate all of it!
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 3,677
    If there are finished wood framed walls those will have to be opened up and dried out and disinfected as well.

    I'm sure there will be a report by the glwa about what failed after everyone has forgotten about it. Could be something clogged, some pump failed, lost power and a generator failed or was caught in flooding...
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,216
    If the appliances got wet they get replaced. A blessing in seeing how the last time he pocketed the money. 

    I’d walk without a major reduction in the sale price and I’d have my contractor do the work not his. 
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,246
    Hi, I believe there are backflow preventers for sewer lines. Might be good to look into B)

    Yours, Larry
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,690
    No way they keep the deposit, you have every right to back out with no loss
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,331
    This is a catastrophic event to the home that they admit has happened before. This place is going to need so much more than heating equipment replacement, building materials replaced. BWV, Check valves, perk tests pumps, etc., etc.
    Your realtor? Do you have one? Real estate lawyer and you have plenty to "Reconsider".
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 2,216
    RUN Forrest

    RUN
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,346
    pecmsg said:

    RUN Forrest

    RUN

    this,
    don't buy a house that floods,
    ya can't beat city hall, and high tides
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 11,848
    neilc said:

    pecmsg said:

    RUN Forrest

    RUN

    this,
    don't buy a house that floods,
    ya can't beat city hall, and high tides
    There are actually decent ways to deal with a sewer that can backup, no? Check valves etc?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 2,872
    My BIL had to get a backwater valve installed after the second time he had the brown trout swimming in his basement. The price was so not-as-bad-as-espected that a number of relatives in the neighborhood ended up getting them installed as well, as a preventative (The city is working on updating the infrastructure, but that a multi-decade project). So far, no issues...

    The kids really liked watching the digging as well!

  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 1,346
    ChrisJ said:

    neilc said:

    pecmsg said:

    RUN Forrest

    RUN

    this,
    don't buy a house that floods,
    ya can't beat city hall, and high tides
    There are actually decent ways to deal with a sewer that can backup, no? Check valves etc?
    well, ok, sure,
    you could backwater the main drain and hope that never fails, also,
    and I'm not clear if rainwater flooded directly, or by way of overwhelming the city sewer,

    but it's flooded now, and 6 years ago, and climate change , , ,

    I know the housing market is crazy tight right now, and I'm not shopping,
    but I would walk away from a flooded prospective purchase while I can.
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 8,685
    edited June 29
    Most likely a combo storm drain and sanitary sewer system.

    Common problem is any lift or transfer pump fails.

    Major redo to separate functions.

    Was an issue long before the term of "climate change" was coined. (for coin BTW ;) )
    Jamie Hall
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,604
    The only really reliable way to deal with a sewer system which backs up is called "gravity". It's found in most areas...

    But what if a pump station fails? And they do. They should have an overflow to prevent damage to the property which they serve. That's part of the original engineering. For that matter, they should always have dual lift pumps -- and the pumps should be properly alarmed and controlled, which they rarely are. That's also part of the original engineering. (I lost count of the number of lift stations I inspected, back in the day, which had the alarms set incorrectly...)

    Both of those things can be fixed, but that's hard infrastructure maintenance, and that's a pretty tough sell these days.

    And as @JUGHNE said, it's a set of problems which existed long before "climate change" became popular.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England