appliances near end of life question

Hi everyone, I was at a real estate office here in Arizona this morning doing a presentation and many of the agents expressed that reports that state that water heaters and heat pumps etc that are “older and may soon need replacement” are costing them deals. I use Report Host and I have always used their guidelines in this regard but I don’t think I am required to mention this. Would it be just as acceptable to say…" the water heater is a 2002 Rheem and was working well at the time of inspection"?

Thanks, David

What is the information that you feel matters most to your client?

Don’t ever let anyone tell you what you know.
You call it out as you see it. You are the Inspector ! Yes?
I’m in Florida and useful life is different here.
Look at the dates to confirm your decisions.
In Florida outside compressor units only last about 10+ years.
Darn water heaters if inside can go for 15 plus. They usually leak unless there are glass lined .
NACHI has a useful life listing . Go by it and you will fair well.

Thanks James but I have to agree with the agents to a point. I often see heat pumps and a/c units etc that are far beyond the broad stroke warning range that are working fine. There are so many factors that should be accounted for such as 1) Just because the date stamp says it was manufactured in 2002 does not mean it was installed in that year. 2) Many homes in this area are lived in only part of the year and the usage is very light. 3)The quality of certain brands are far higher than others. It is just hard to say.

Thanks Roy.

Age doesn’t really come into play in my reporting. Only condition will be reflected in my report. With that being said, age usually plays a factor in the condition.

its not uncommon to see a unit double its useful life expectancy or even triple. I dont say its likely to need replaced I state its age and if it functions as intended.

Thank you Robert, I completely agree. Another reason why the agents dislike the “near end of life” language is because home warranty companies will turn down applications when they read the report that uses that language which can (and does) kill deals.

Yes. Most times it does but not all the time. Perfect example: 8 year old TRANE vs an 8 year old Goodman. I don’t like blanket warnings. I like the idea of using language like…“This home is served by a 3.5 ton Trane heat pump manufactured in 2002. While this is an older unit it was operating well at the time of inspection”. What do you think?

I would not say “older” unless it was like 30 yrs old. 8, 12 , 15, or even 20 years really isnt that old if maintained well. also if theres little to zero rust present, all the parts may have or still can be replaced, circuit boards, motors, switches, ect. no one ever knows what in the unit is actually newer that the serial number on the outside

Good point. I am in Arizona though so we don’t see too many units last beyond 20 years but many are lasting that long and to report that a unit that is 8-12 years old is getting ready to croak could be a deal killer and I don’t want to be “that guy”. Thanks for your responses.

Did anyone tell you that your house is going to fall down…?


Well they would be correct…
Is this pertinent to anything?
If you can’t come up with something that is actually occurring, “It’s working today”.

Meet your clients expectations.
It’s not new.
When will it fail?
Who the H e l l knows? (your damn sheet can’t tell you this).

It is rusted to hell, and old as the hills!? Now we are getting someplace…

Respect the seller and their Agent (they may be your client one day soon).

IMO you are focusing on the wrong thing. Don’t worry about being a deal killer. Focus on providing objective and accurate info.

They will also turn down claims on appliances that are aged 10 years or older. Same as certain paid-for recall check services. Do you disclaim that to your client? Are you going to replace the unit *when *(not if) it fails after the ten year mark, but still under a home warrantee, and given that the Manufacturer will only warrantee the unit for 7 years? So you reported it was *old. *Do you specify what constitutes old, and the ramifications of it being old? How exactly are you CYA?

It seems odd that so many inspectors would go through so much trouble and expense (Preston’s Guide, etc) to research and report the age of mechanical equipment … only to say that the age is not relevant to its present working condition. Why bother reporting on the age of the equipment if it is working fine at the time of the inspection?

In 2010, I inspected a home with a pristine water heater that was installed in 1971 (when I was a senior in high school). While I was amazed at the excellent condition of the water heater in light of its age … I informed my client that this was the exception and not the rule. I explained that the manufacturer of water heaters will provide a warranty for what they believe to be the life expectancy of the device (usually 6 years) … and that the NAHB estimates the life span to be higher at 10 years. While the water heater in that home showed no outward signs of deterioration, it was older than the normal life span for a water heater and that they should plan to replace it.

In my opinion, it is a very slippery slope for a home inspector to tread when he begins to use what he believes to be the opinions of real estate salesmen in communicating to his client.

If it’s broke … say it’s broke. It it’s old … say it’s old.

With all of that said, a prudent home inspector will spend extra time (verbally) and extra language in his report to ensure that every client knows that every mechanical item in the house — new and old — can stop working the moment he drives away from the property. The inspection is only a snapshot in time and that age of people or water heaters, new or old, is only an indicator of possible continued life but is no guarantee.

Well said Jim & Juan.

LOL, funny since we disagreed.

In my area life expectency for water tanks is 10 years, and you won’t get insurance if older.

So when it is 12 years old, and working as intended, what, if anything, do you report? (Not bustin’ your chops, just curious on your take on this issue).

What about one of these?