Inspecting furnaces and AC's

I haven’t done an inspection yet or even done a ride along. So i don’t know exactly what an AC or furnace actually consists of. But I have read InterNACHI’s standard of practice, and it seems like you just have to identify their fuel source, use the thermostat to make sure the heat or ac comes on, you report about it or if you can’t access them. So I understand those are the “minimum” but it seems like as a newbie that would be good enough. So why do the HI books explain so much detail about the components if you are not going to be inspecting them. And everybody talks about the systems like they are mechanics or something. I have talked to some who say it shouldn’t be tech. exhaustive and some people do to much because they know more about certain areas, but it should be a balanced inspection.
And yes, I do want to do more than the minimum, but I don’t want to get myself into trouble.


Itis like my truck…I certainly need to know how to drive and need an operators license but, for me, I want to know more about how it works than just sticking a key in it and driving around.

I agree with Larry. The more you know about the inner workings, the better you will be able to determine if the units are working properly. It takes lots of time and effort, keep reading and checking out your friends places and you will get there some day.

Blanket statement, CYA:

Fuel Furnace: Last service date is over one year ago, or is unable to be determined. Although this unit appears to be operating properly from controls, there are areas which cannot be seen without specialized equipment and training. One such area is the combustion chamber / heat exchanger where cold air blows across the “fire box”, becoming the hot air that circulates throughout your home. During the life span of any furnace, this metal wall may develop a crack or a broken weld, allowing carbon monoxide to circulate throughout the home. This is why furnace specialists recommend a complete inspection annually; consider having unit inspected by certified HVAC technician.

I like that Russell! I think that covers everything!

very good statement indeed. I would add at the end “prior to close of escrow” or “prior to closing” depending upon the language used in your area, but perhaps that’s just me.

To answer the original question…You are going to be asked many questions by your clients who will expect you to know more than a little about all of the systems in the home. You had better be able to explain how an air conditioner, heat pump, fuel furnace, etc. work, the inside of the electric panel, GFCI’s, AFCI’s, roof coverings and their benefits, shortcomings, etc. Many of your clients will have a very good understanding one or more of the home’s components and unless they are an expert in that trade, you don’t want them to think they know more about that area than they do, or they will question every facet of your inspection.

Checking an HVAC system is much more than simply turning it on to feel for cold or warm air, just as checking the plumbing system is more than just looking for running water…:wink:

Good add-on, Blaine;
I will!

You will find that many home inspectors have a background in one or more of the construction fields…including HVAC. While they will deny it, vehemently, a large number of them who frequent this message board will gravitate toward (and otherwise emphasize) their area of expertise.

One former HVAV tech who is now a home inspector will actually perform a service call as a part of his inspection…and claims that those of us who do not are “cheating” our clients.

The SOP, when followed, assures a balance of time and emphasis that covers all of the systems within the home. You are wise to refer to it…wiser to follow it.

Good luck.

MArk, please post your location in your profile. You never know who is nearby and can help you. :slight_smile:

Thanks Rick.

We have a lot of new member posters lately and they all need to do this.

Top of this page-control panel-edit your details-go to bottom of page and fill in your location information.

Murrieta CA

Mark -

Where did you go to home inspection school?

Wherever it was, they should have taught you the basics of heating and cooling principles AND what to check AND how to check it.

If you haven’t completed that portion of your formal classroom training yet, pay attention when you get to that part of the training.

If you have NOT yet gone through your classroom training, don’t dismay ANY competent training school will take you through this process.

If for some strange reason you are thinking about getting into this business without formal training, watch out for HVAC technicians, repair guru’s AND old home inspectors that think WITHOUT formal classroom training you’re a danger to yourself AND your clients and ought to be selling used snake oil to eskimo’s.

They’ll bend over backwards to help get you sued out of business.

But if you are an inspector that does not know crap about a house, Realtors will be refering you right and left. Until you get sued out of business. Sad but true.

Mr. Larson,

Just looking over your website and noticed one area that you should maybe think of correcting. On your Qualifications page toward the bottom it says “*As a member I must continue my education by tanking a minimum of 24 hours per year, every year.”

I was not aware of this requirement. :smiley:

Thanks Scott. Fixed:D

I guess I gotta be careful what I post here. Some people get all bent out of shape. Sometimes its easier to get an answer if you ask a question like you don’t know much about a subject, and sometimes it back fires and people get all excited about suing and what not. People can say what they want, but avoid answering a simple question.
I made it clear I wasn’t finished with my education. I figured I could use this board to bounce things off of others with some experience, so I could learn something.
Ill be careful, sorry if I offended anyone.


No one is offended. These old hats are well experienced and been around awhile however just like you they started off learning as well. These guys are simply stating make sure you get the training before ever doing your first home inspection for a couple or person that’s getting ready to blow 100k +. This is serious business and once you miss something it could cost you your shirt. Take your time, educate yourself and if you need help “ALWAYS ASK” no matter if your heckled or not. These guys will be behind you every step of the way.

Mark ask away , Do not let some scare you away. A lot of pro’s here and some are a little gruff to say it gently . some answers will make you feel a little dumb at times just ignore it. You can learn at lot here . even the most season HI learn and get refreshed even if they do not admit it . If you do not see something new or learn something new it has been a bad day .

Home Inspectors and HVAC Inspections
Should Home Inspectors Inspect HVAC Equipment?

My perception of the issue…