Specific tools in the tool bag are needed for many professions. Home inspectors inspect homes and commercial buildings and need tools in order to do their job. Safety is important so having the right tools is essential. However, each home inspector is different in their preferences. What tools does a home inspector need? They need the basic safety items but also other tools such as a moisture meter, infrared thermometer, and more.
Why the Tools Are Important
As in any job, a professional has various instruments they need to do their job. In an office, it may be a computer, an accountant may need spreadsheets, and a home inspector needs a plethora of tools.
Some of the basic inspector tools that home inspectors carry are safety items that will fit right into their tool bag. One important piece of equipment is a respirator. A dust mask won’t suffice. This respirator needs to be able to filter out the particles that are biological hazards.
What does this mean? Well, bacterial, fungal, and viral organisms. are biological hazards. Also, there are hazards that can get stuck in the respiratory system such as asbestos and carcinogens. This is important because many times an inspector will be entering areas that could have hazardous air particles.
Every good inspector will have a pair or two of safety glasses as there are many situations in which an inspector may find they are putting their eyes or vision at risk. There are also small spaces like crawlspaces or larger places like attics that may have wires and fasteners sticking out. Also, when the inspector is looking at the electrical panels in a home, sparks or debris may fly out during short circuits.
This is a specific type of glove that has high dielectric and is sturdy. They have liner gloves that go under the rubber gloves and over top of them are protective leather gloves. All inspectors should wear ones that meet the ASTM D-120/EIC903 specifications.
Many people feel moisture meters and infrared cameras are not required but many inspectors use them because they allow them to conduct a better inspection and make them more competitive in the business of home inspections.
Basic: Moisture meter – locates leaks and finds elevated moisture levels in places that can’t be seen like plumbing leaks that are in the walls.
Advanced: FLIR E60 infrared camera sees water damage where the naked eye cannot.
This is a great tool for inspectors. It is a ladder that is collapsible and allows the inspector to go into the home with less chance of bumping into furniture and leaving knicks in the walls.
Inspectors often need to have access to places that they may not fit. Using an infrared thermometer, the inspector can check the temperature of the HVAC in places that are not accessible. This may be large heavy furniture is in the way or under beds. The thermometer can tell when an area is unusually warm or cold, according to the colors that are present.
These are used to test voltage and range from 120 -240 volt receptacles. Inspectors use this when checking electrical components.
Basic : Three light electrical tester – used to make sure that there is an electrical current going through the wall.
Advanced: Amprobe INSP – 3 Circuit Analyzer – this is used instead of the three light electrical tester if we have more issues behind the wall than what the electrical tested can pull up.
This is also a type of electrical tester and it looks to make sure the arc-fault and ground-fault circuit interrupter devices are working.
This will determine if there is voltage in a device or in wiring. It doesn’t always give the best readings but it at least gives the inspector information to explore further.
This type of tester lets the inspector know the safety of the outlet.
Some people choose to use their phone to take pictures while others have a digital camera. A camera is a necessity to show where the areas of concern are in a home inspection.
Here are some tools that are recommended for new and seasoned home inspectors:
Basic: Tape measure
This is good for measuring specific areas and to use when writing reports. Taking a photo along with measurements is a good idea.
Advanced: Bosch laser measure
Flashlight – inspectors have to look in dark areas of the attic, basements, crawl space, and rooms so a flashlight is an essential tool.
Continuous Radon Monitors
These monitors will test for the radon. Home inspections do not cover radon inspections so it is an ancillary service that is extra. Some places in the U.S. have high levels of radon such as the Northeast, while other areas such as the south have lower levels. This monitor samples that air once an hour for at least 48 hours and gives a result at the end which is an average of the samples.
Basic: Radon canisters
Advanced: Radelec Radon Recon CRMs
These are also carbon monoxide detectors and can detect gases that are odorless and colorless.
Combustible Gas Detector
This can detect when there are small amounts of combustible gases. However, some inspectors just use their noses to smell natural gas leaks and propane as these are odors that can be detected easily.
These will detect the magnetron in the microwave which shows that it is working.
These come in the form of step ladders and also extension ladders. They can fit in the trunk of cars.
What is the number 1 tool for a home inspector? The BRAIN!
We use our BRAIN to figure out if what we are looking at is really a problem for our clients. Some inspectors use just checklists and kick tires but we actually overlay our findings with our client’s specific needs/wants/desires.
Our real estate stock is so complicated due to its age that we have to be able to figure out if our “First Time Homebuyer” (let’s say a couple in their 20s with a newborn baby) is really up to the task of owning a deferred maintenance 19th-century farmhouse.
A retired couple on a fixed income may not be able to replace a boiler – so it’s a big deal that we talk about that expense with them. A commercial investor may not care one bit if the water heaters in the apartment building are end of life because they will replace them all immediately anyway.
Lastly, all of our clients have different needs and we highlight problems in different ways for them all. We always ask our clients “what are your needs in a home” and “do you have any updates or renovation plans for the property?”
Your home inspector should have the tools that he/she feels are needed to do the job effectively and correctly. If you are looking for a home inspection company, choose Twin State. Twin State inspections will conduct a quality home inspection in the Twin State areas of VT and NH.