What do I put in my report if there are no defects with the property?



X-Ray vision and… based on the manufacturing date of the heater, and a knowledge of the rate of deterioration of similar anode rods, given the local water and conditions.

How do YOU call out anode rods at the end of their service lifetime?

(A good rule of thumb being that the anode will be consumed just prior to the expiration of the warranty on the given heater (longer warranty heaters having more anode material)). Rheem even sells an extended warranty that consists of… you guessed it… a requirement to install a supplemental anode rod http://cdn.spsmsys.com/images/products/pdf/rhe01/sp20079.pdf

Maybe the seller replaced it 2 days, 2 weeks or even 2 years before you inspected. Not knowing the service history of the water heater would means you are making a service recommendation on an assumption. At best, why not just recommend the seller provide service records and perform any manufacturer recommended maintenance as needed? (But, this would go for almost every component in the home, right?) Can-O-worms.


Certainly not, if the foam plug is still intact above the anode rod.

Anode rod awareness is low, noting the anode rod issue allows the (new) owner to decide how to handle it. By the time the tank starts to leak, it’s too late.

Foam plug? I am not sure that exists on all anodes. I will go down that rabbit hole some day.

Awareness is different than automatically recommending replacement. There are a lot of “awareness” issues in a home. You can quickly fill a report with them. “Fill” being the key word.


Older heaters typically the rod is exposed, and the top can be inspected. Unfortunately if it’s rusty it may be too late to remove it cleanly (takes a huge amount of force anyway).

More recent heaters, presumably to meet energy goals, and most commercial water heaters I have inspected, have the anode encased in foam. I assume this is to reduce passive losses of having bare metal at the hottest part of the tank exposed.

Sadly, anode rods don’t have a manufacturing date installed on the cap where it could be inspected and recorded (electronic anode rods do have a wear indicator). But tank vendors probably like selling new tanks more than maintenance parts… so nothing will change

Big Tank wants your money. I don’t work for big tank, I work for my clients.

None from me, but I’m new haha…thought I found the perfect house. $1.3 million 1 year-old condo…was justabout to wake and call the neighbors. But light in the fridge was burned out, and one side of concrete bacony had cracks, and chips.

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I only call out the condition of the water heater as I have no first hand knowledge of the anode rod condition. The condition of the anode rod will vary depending on water quality.


I’ve never seen a perfect house, far from it. Even the brand new homes come up with over a dozen and sometimes 20 recommended repairs.


Been with Palm-Tech since 2003, tried the handheld and didn’t like it either, but the software was real good for me. For instance with Palm-Tech I had a template for every major housing development where I inspected with most of the data boxes pre-checked which was built using a previous report. The fact you could build a template from a report and populate it with an existing database was something no other reporting software could do. The key to this is separating the report template from the database. It took years to build a bulletproof database library but once you had it you could knock out a professional report in about an hour, simply by not having to fiddle around with checkboxes which did not apply to this particular inspection.Anyway yeah, Palm-Tech made me look good.

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Hey Charles, Welcome to the world of property inspections. Yes, it is possible for a house not to have any defects. I personally have not found one but it is possible. I know of a realtor (former long time home inspector) who buys houses and fixes them up to attempt to pass all the criteria of inspections: He is passionate about perfection. There are some good suggestions in this thread and a few little winy little girl posts (they are all the same people it appears). Brian Cawher’s & Ber Hull’s suggestions are good as a filler because realtors do not think you are doing your job with an empty report. Also, David Anderson’s point is right on target! But, if your state does not have a SOP then follow the InterNACHO standards as Christopher Currins stated., it is a good place to start. I think Matthew Atwood suggestion is applicable but understand the difference between a home inspector and a home advisor (nothing wrong with the home advisor role). Be mindful that an over-stuffed report sometimes does not get properly read by agents (some agents are lazy and will not hire you if you make their job of writing the BNSR harder). Best comment yet by Bob Williams “Tiny condo… that’s a defect”. Here is my $0.02…InterNACHO has unbelievable amounts of learning material related to homes inspections (several outside of that area too). Throw yourself at it, the more you learn the more you can find.

Charles, Are you inspecting in Florida? Your profile says Tarpon Springs, Florida but the Florida database does not reflect any version or your name.

21 years and 8000+ houses and I can’t remember one that had absolutely nothing to write-up… maybe there was one somewhere along the way. I do what others advise if the report is light - put in maintenance tips or pictures of where shut-offs, etc. are.

I do remember a new build once where the superintendent really took the inspection seriously and tried to have zero items come up at the inspection. He actually did a really good job but I got him some wiring in a bedroom - Instead of the light switch energizing one half of one outlet it energized (or turned off) every outlet except for one half of one. It was actually pretty funny… he was so bummed that he missed it. I only wish every builder cared so much about doing a good job!


That’s why I’m asking…

The age of the anode rod can be noted in a report, regardless. Local experience (plumbers, tradespeople) will tell how long anode rods last in your area. The anode rods seem to run roughly with the warranty on the tank: longer warranty means they put a larger anode rod in to start.

So how old is the anode rod in a water heater that has been installed and working for 25 years?

25 years old.
Dimes to doughnuts.

The rod likely looks like picture #5, though possibly looks like picture #2 as scale prevents the rest of the rod from functioning.

Once the rod is gone, the rate of rusting on the tank and steel components goes way up.

This is a lot like changing oil in a car. Do you have to? No. Does the engine last longer if you do? Yes.

Anodes are very very easy to report on:

"The anode rod appears to be original, meaning from 1996.
Anode rods last from 5-10 years in our local water conditions".
Anode rods are service item requiring periodic replacement, to minimize lifetime costs of operating a water heater.

Quite a few plumbers have never changed a rod, and either don’t know how, or don’t like to change them. They are perfectly happy however to take your money to install a new water heater. And in some cases that makes sense, based on improved insulation and AFUE.

I particularly call out anode rod lifecycle on high quality commercial water heaters that don’t otherwise need replacement, and where an electronic anode rod makes the lifetime issue easier. The Big Tank industry does not want it to be easy to measure or determine the anode rod status, as all they care about is getting past the warranty date.

Incorrect answer. You have no first hand knowledge how many times that anode rod has been replaced. Personally I inspect and report on the condition of the water heater at the time of inspection.


Congratulations today is your lucky day you just met one :wink:

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Awesome. I hope my inspection clients hire you to change their anode rods.

I’ll bet you’d be fully qualified to evaluate indirect evidence , even in the absence of more direct evidence like maintenance reports or sharpie on the water heater casing.

The status of the anode rod, something the owner, buyer, seller or agent will likely never consider, is relevant to the current condition of the unit. The very fact that there is a wear and serviceable component in a water heater is likely unknown to them. They’ll know to change their oil perhaps, but not their anode rods. It’s just something I look at and report on, reflecting any uncertainty in the report.

How about this: given a 25 year old water heater with sharpie on the casing showing changes of anode every 5 years – is that a good thing or a bad thing? Reportable?

On occasion I’ll inspect a water heater with an anode rod that’s rusted and cruddy, to the point where it likely can’t be removed. That too seems reportable.