Being a home inspector means that I am not an specialist in any one area. Home inspectors are generalist. Now there are some inspectors I know that hold trade licenses and therefore would be considered an expert. That would not be me however.
Since I am a generalist, I have to be careful not tread into the experts territory unless I am confident in my information. For example with heating and cooling equipment it is generally not wise to call a unit in need of replacement. While a furnace or A/C compressor may in fact be close to a hundred years old and look like it's on life support, if it's working I usually can't call it. The best I can do is inform my client of the condition of the machine, pointing out the issues and giving them as much information as possible. Hopefully I communicate that the old clunker is probably going to cost them lots of money sooner rather than later.
Once in a while the appliance commits suicide.
During a recent inspection on a hot and humid day here in Connecticut I rounded the corner of the house to find an old A/C compressor. Clearly this unit was every day of 30 years and probably then some. Unfortunately the data tag on the unit had long since worn away, so getting a definitive date was not going to be possible.
While searching for the manufacture's tag, I open a service door and saw a note written inside with marker on a metal cover.
Temporary repairs made 8-10-10.
Temporary repairs means to me this unit is on life support. The end could come at any time. Once inside I turned on the A/C. The compressor kicked on. The thermostat said the interior of the house was 81 degrees. About two hours later after completing the inspection, it was still 81 degrees.
Time to pull the plug. ------------------------------