When to replace

I am curious as to all of you evaluate and call for replacement on certain items - roof, air conditioning, and water heaters.

What do you do when a shingle roof is at the end of its life (down here it is about 16 years) but shows no leaks and normal wear and tear. We all know it will be replaced within the next couple of years. Do you advise your client to replace the roof now or do you just report it as old.

Same thing with water heaters and air conditioning units. We all know that with proper maintenance an AC unit can survive well past 12 years (which is the normal life expectance here in Florida - your area may be different).

We have all seen the unusal water heater or AC unit that is 20-25 years old and still in working condition.

I don’t necessarily call for a replacement of anything. That’s not what I’m there for. I educate the client as best I can giving information about the component, average life span, and even web URLs for them to visit (They seem to like those) and defer it to a specialist–all to help them make up their own winds. The client is the only one who can determine a need to replace–not the inspector–not the realtor–only the client.

However, the inspector is expected to…but shouldn’t–

The realtor always does…but shouldn’t–

The client is usually nervous about it…and should be. That’s why education is so important.

I agree that Jae’s philosophy is the best and safest bet as the inspector.

There are times where I will stick my neck out and call for replacement of a major component, but only if it is very obvious that it needs to be.

Of course, list these types of things as a deferred cost item and call for further evaluation above anything.

In the end, the client should be deciding on their actions…you should just give them their options.

I never call out replacement for anything that I would inspect.

I would instead, call out the fact that it has reached the end of it’s functional life expectancy and budgeting for replacement would be prudent.

Due to the Geographical areas of this Country, no appliances, roofing, siding, concrete, HVAC units etc. have the same life cycle.

Life expectancies are solely based on the Law of Averages.


I tell people to replace broken, non functioning things all the time. That’s my job. :smiley:
As for asphalt shingle roofing that is not leaking but old, I tell them it is an old roof (describe any signs of age) and to monitor it for leaks.

If an AC unit is past it’s usefull life and still working, I call it out as “passed it’s usefull life and still working, but you should monitor it…”

Same here. I just tell them the facts; the thing is old, its working today, it may quit next week, next month or next year. Its flying along on grace so budget for replacement in the near future. If it looks like it has been neglected, tell em, if it looks like it hasn’t been serviced since Col. Sanders was a Corporal, tell em. It is really very easy to be honest. If that hurts the sellers feelings, oh well. Photos to back up your claim, move on.

I also add that they should budget for the replacement of the system or component of the system also. So if it is an AC, Furnace, roof or what ever it get the thought process rolling for them, get them talking to roofers HVAC guys or who ever to get an idea of what they are in for and to see what choices they will have when replacement time comes. They then take ownership of the process

I guess if something is broken, well replacement is required.

Man do we have to be so dramatic in our wording?
If it is broke, replace it, if it is running don’t fix it, mantain it, if it is old budget for replacement.

Why complicate things.?

Marcel :slight_smile: :wink:

broke doesn’t necessarily mean it needs replacing…sometimes it just needs to be fixed.:wink:

I also rarely suggest something needs to be replaced. I report the current condition of the item and suggest further evaluation by an expert and let them explain their options.

I appreciate all the answers and input. Now here is where I was coming from.

I was taught to report as follows - item, condition, recommendation.

When it comes to the items I specifically mentioned above, we get into a very grey area. If I have a roof that is not leaking, but old, the shingles are brittle and curled, I recommend replacement. If we defer this to a licensed roofer, here is what will normally happen; Five will say it can be repaired and five will say it needs to be replaced. (After hurricane Wilma, you could not bet anyone to repair a roof; all they wanted to do was replace because of the profit). A year later that roof that we referred to the roofers starts to leak and now the client has to replace it.

Now, I know what will be said here: we did our job and deferred to a roofer and he made the decision. This is where I disagree with some of the opinions. Our clients hire us a the professional (expert) to give them information (yes RR, I know you will chime in with training your client and 'expectations"). I have a hard time deferring items for further evaluation when we are being paid to be the expert. I know we are not experts in all trades, nor do we claim to be, but isnt it our job to advise our customer on these issues?

I try to look at every home as if my mother was going to buy the home. If that roof is old and crapy, I am going to tell her to replace it now, rather than wait until it starts to leak and causes damage.

I would rather call out that roof as a replacement. If the seller wants to dispute it, let him hire his own roofer to render a second opinion. If that roofer disagrees with me, I usually ask for one of two things - let him give my client a warranty for 2 years (which they usually will not do) or let my client hire his own roofer (who will most likey say it needs to be replaced). A lot of the time an independent roofer, agreed upon by both parties will render a third opinon, which then becomes binding.

Now, I now not all of you will agree with me, and one of the things we all have to agree on is that we have the right to disagree. I will leave it at that for now and see what the responses are.

If you are an “expert” in those fields than by all means. If you are not than I caution anyone about leading anyone else to believe they are an expert when in fact they may be only “knowledgable” in that area of construction. Once heard someone who was an expert in a field make the comment…“there is no such thing as an expert, only varying degrees of ignorance.” If you have already decided that, for example, a roof needs to be repaired or replaced, then you have done your job. At some point the homeowner has to make the final decision as they are the ones paying for the repairs/replacement.

I’ll call it out when it’s broke…:shock:


I loosely follow a pattern of noting a condition,

give the possible causes (and state also that other causes may be possible),

what might happen if the condition is ignored (other results may be possible),

possible resolutions or solutions (others possible).

Recommend further evaluation by a licensed [whatever] professional before close of escrow.