October, 2009
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Focus on Standards


Use Professional Judgment  to Inspect a Heat Pump

The ASHI Standards of Practice Committee is charged with
developing and maintaining the ASHI Standards of Practice and answering Requests for Interpretation (RFI) of it.
The committee is always open to suggestions about improving the current home inspection Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. We encourage anyone wishing to suggest improvements to these standards to do so.

In order to facilitate evaluation of all comments, we ask that comments come in the following format:
  • The name(s) of those submitting the comment;

  • The name of the group or organization, if any, on whose behalf the comments are being submitted;

  • The proposed change to the standard, with words to be removed struck out and words to be added underlined;

  • The reason(s) why the change will improve the standard.
Anyone with a question about the intent or applicability of a current standard is invited to review past answers to RFIs on the ASHI Members Only Web site under Resources or to submit his or her question to the committee using the form in the same section. The response to a past request appears here.  
— Bruce Barker, chair, 2009 ASHI Standards of Practice Committee

Request for Interpretation

S 090713 How should a heat pump be checked?

When performing a check of heat pump, is it not the standard to check it in one mode, heating during heating season and cooling during cooling season? And for the moderate seasons, such as fall and spring, whatever the outside temperature dictates?


The methods used to inspect systems and components during a home inspection are subject to the professional judgment of the inspector. Factors that might influence this judgment include the condition of the system or component, climate and other conditions at the time of the inspection, and general industry practices regarding operation of the system or component.

ASHI Standards of Practice Sections 8.1.B and 9.1.B require that inspectors inspect heating and cooling equipment using normal operating controls; however, Section 13.2.F.1 allows the inspector not to perform any operation that will likely damage systems or components. The inspector must balance the benefits of testing the heating and cooling equipment against the risk that the test might damage equipment. Each inspector must make this balancing judgment based on the facts available during the inspection. If the inspector elects not to inspect systems or components designated for inspection in the Standards, the inspector should inform the client per Section 2.2.C.4.