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  1. #1

    Default Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    I recently was looking at another inspector's report and I noted that he was recommending replacement of a functional and not leaking water heater based on age.

    The water heater was 14 years old and warrantied for 12 years.

    My understanding of warranty policy is that the manufacturer expects that at least 95% of the product should exceed the warranty period. That means the manufacturer would only expect possible claims on less than 5% of the product. I am sure that this varies by manufacturer but serves to illustrate the methodology.

    In my experience water heater failure is more a function of local water condition rather than age. I have encountered water heaters 30, 40 even 50+ years old that were still performing. (I loved the 50+ year old, galvanized tank, open flame and no insulation or outer casing.)

    The same logic applies to other appliances. If we encounter a fully functional, undamaged, 35 year old furnace with a statistical life span of about 25 years, do we recommend replacement?

    My policy has been to advise of the statistically expected lifespan and the current age of the appliance and recommend proper maintenance and having a plan for replacement on an as needed basis.

    Just wonder how others are handling this type of situation.

    F.I.R.E. Services

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Atlanta, Georgia
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    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall Brown View Post
    My policy has been to advise of the statistically expected lifespan and the current age of the appliance and recommend proper maintenance and having a plan for replacement on an as needed basis.
    Ditto

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Chico,Ca
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    423

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    My water heater is over 30 years old not planning on replacing it either.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    I had to replace a water heater a couple of weeks ago. It was manufactured 9 1/2 years ago.
    Chlorine rots them out from the inside. If you have soft water or well water and no chlorine, no problem. But on chlorinated water here, 11 years is typical for a cheap unlined electric water heater.
    Many condo buildings here have a 10 year max time for water heaters becuase it is cheaper to have the tanks replaced than it is to repair water damage on multiple levels.

    Sometimes the clients would prefer to start their time in their new house with a new water heater that, they hope, won't flood the place while they're at work. So I will recommend a replacement sometimes for a older like a 15 year old non-leaking tank.

    I inspected a manuf home about a month ago that had the tank hidden away behind an insulated panel. It was 14 years old, on NG and leaking. Steam was blowing up from the drain pan into the attic, and the roof sheathing was soaked. Luckily, this was a double-wide with an attic hatch so I got some good pics of water dripping from the rafters. The seller's insurance bought them a new tank and took care of drying the place out. So my clients get a new water heater instead of a tank that is ready to blow.

    I bought a water alarm for my place which presently is rented out. The alarm cost $17 and sits in the drain pan. I recommend them to everybody.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 03-02-2014 at 09:44 PM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  5. #5

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    My own water heater is about 15 years old and I'm sure half full of sand. I really need to get off my a$$ and drain it since I always recommend doing it.
    Actually, when I started this thread I just used the water heater as an example. I was trying to find out how HI's handled comments on older fixtures that appeared to still be performing as expected.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    Quote Originally Posted by Marshall Brown View Post
    My own water heater is about 15 years old and I'm sure half full of sand. I really need to get off my a$$ and drain it since I always recommend doing it.
    Actually, when I started this thread I just used the water heater as an example. I was trying to find out how HI's handled comments on older fixtures that appeared to still be performing as expected.
    Yep, something like an old furnace, I warn that the heat exchanger could be rusted and it should be serviced and inspected by a heating professional. Verbally, I might say that it seems to be fine and working well, but in writing, have it checked out.
    AC or heat pump, same thing have it checked out. Dishwasher, older unit, I tell them it might not wash dishes very well, it could fail at any time but I don't inspect appliances, I might operate it and give an observation. But I don't recommend replacing an appliance that is functioning except for an aging water heater or a furnace that is obviously rusted out. That helps the buyer if there's a hope the seller will take care of it.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
    Posts
    1,628

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    I'm guessing you've never had a water heater fail. It's not pretty. Because of my life experience I always recommend replacement when they're beyond their predicted life span. Whether it's a water heater, furnace, or a/c. You're not doing your client justice if you tell them their 20 year old water heater is working fine and to keep up with "proper maintenance".

    If it's beyond its life span, let them know. Hopefully they'll get a new one from the seller. But, if they don't, at least you've covered yourself when the water heater leaks and they want you to pay for the flood damage.

    Average life expectancy of building components can be found here: http://www.nahb.org/fileUpload_detai...ontentID=99359

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Succasunna NJ
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    574

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    Some state standards require an inspector to tell their client when a component is past it's designed life expectancy. If a water heater is past it's life expectancy, I always tell my clients to 'replace it now before it leaks and causes damage'. But hey, that's just me.

    Darren www.aboutthehouseinspections.com
    'Whizzing & pasting & pooting through the day (Ronnie helping Kenny helping burn his poots away!) (FZ)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Osceola, AR
    Posts
    310

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    I always try to note the age of the equipment and it's estimated lifespan. A local real estate agency purely hates me because of this (well, this and a few other similar reporting details). I prefer to give my clients a heads up on the details like this, even if the equipment is functional at the time of inspection. Water heaters in my area are rarely installed according to manufacturers installation instructions, add age to that & it's a normal repair item in nearly every inspection report.
    On a side note, this year I have seen a ton of fairly recent replacements of gas fired WH units where the flue is disconnected in the attic. 11 units (that I recall offhand) with this condition so far and it's barely into March.

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Miller View Post
    Some state standards require an inspector to tell their client when a component is past it's designed life expectancy. If a water heater is past it's life expectancy, I always tell my clients to 'replace it now before it leaks and causes damage'. But hey, that's just me.
    Instead of referring to it's life expectancy and or design life (which is a variable and sometimes ambiguous), It is recommended to state that is it "fully depreciated". You should include a definition of the term in your contract or S.O.P. The definition of "fully depreciated" is included in our S.O.P. for MA home inspectors and defined as follows: "Item/System is no longer under the manufacturer's warranty, and it is reaching the end of its serviceable life. The item/System/Component has no dollar or salvage value and replacement should be anticipated".

    I don't always give kudos to our Home Inspector Board but on this one they got it right!!
    This definition has you covered!!!

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  11. #11
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    Jan 2013
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    United States
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    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    My natural gas water heater will be 20 years old at the end of 2014. I have never drained it or serviced it in any way. I think the secret is the water temperature. I keep it on "warm" which is halfway between "hot" and "vacation"


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Melrose, Massachusetts
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    My own 40-gal Ruud failed and leaked after 8 years (my wife won't let me forget). My plumber thought it might be due to crud from local hydrant flushing stirring up sediment which accumulated in the tank.

    I now tell my clients this story. In my report I tell them expect 8 to 12 years out of a normal gas-fired WH, and consider installing a WAGS or similar device that will shut off the water supply in the event of a leak. Especially if a failed WH can damage finished space.

    Water and Gas Shutoff valve: Taco-Hvac: WAGS Valve

    Donald Bissex
    Melrose, Massachusetts
    www.mystichomeinspection.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,847

    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    Normally I note the approximate manufacture age if I can read the data plate. I then have verbiage that says the average life for a_____ in our area is X years. If the device is over that time frame I then say that it has had a good life and you may need to replace it at any time.

    Most buyers do not have a clue as to how long things last. Even though you might have a 20 year old water heater or a 30 year old furnace, those are anomalies and are not typical...... I feel that I need to let my clients know that the 10-12 year old package gas unit or the 10 year old gas water heater is at the end of its expected life. Heck in my area if we can get 10 years on a gas-pac or 12 on a split system we are doing good.

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 03-05-2014 at 07:19 AM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Mesa AZ
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    Default Re: Warranty date and lifespan expectancies

    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Miller View Post
    Some state standards require an inspector to tell their client when a component is past it's designed life expectancy. If a water heater is past it's life expectancy, I always tell my clients to 'replace it now before it leaks and causes damage'. But hey, that's just me.
    Around here the agents tell the client don't worry about it, the seller is providing a warranty "if " it leaks or breaks the warranty will cover it.

    Last edited by Dan Harris; 03-05-2014 at 07:37 AM.
    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

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