The Home Inspector's Tools Of The Trade
Home inspection, as a separate trade, demands the usage of some specialized instruments that can be referred to as the tools of the trade. These tools are needed to decipher the defects in a property, which the inspector is surveying. Depending on the frequency of use and the task performed, these tools of the trade can be classified into two broad categories, namely the essential inspection tools and the additional inspection tools.
The essential inspection tools
During the process of inspection, certain tools are absolutely invincible to detect the condition of the property and hence they come under the category of essential inspection tools.
Flashlight - for a comprehensive home inspection, a rechargeable flashlight of high intensity (minimum 30,000 candlepower) is needed. Certain products also contain a car charger to enable recharging between inspections.
Moisture meter - a water stain that often appears dry in naked eyes contains latent moisture. Therefore to quantify the percentage of moisture content in wood and non-wood products or to track down the leaks in the household, Moisture meter is an essential equipment.
Portable combustible gas leak detector - almost every household possesses some kind of gas fuelled appliances or furnaces. Hence it is imperative for the inspector to check the presence of toxic gas leaks in gas line or inspect heat exchangers and flue draft. A portable combustible gas leak detector aids the home inspector in all these tasks.
Carbon Monoxide detectors - this service tool is needed to measure the levels of carbon monoxide in any environment, furnace flues and appliance surroundings.
Multimeter - This appliance has an AC voltage range of 240 Volts to 220 Volts and is used to ascertain whether the power supply at the main board is 208 volts or 220 Volts.
Analog or digital metal shaft thermometer - Two analog digital metal shaft thermometers are required for home inspection to measure the temperature differential in cooling and heating systems. One thermometer should have a range of +25F° to +125°F and another should have that of 0 to 200°F and they are to be placed on the return and supply duct of the systems.
Flame Mirror - one large and one small flame mirror are required and they are used to inspect the interiors of oil burners, both operating and non-operating. When combined with flashlight, they can be used to check gas furnace heat exchanger, read names on the bottom of equipments, etc.
TIF Tic Tracer - to detect live electrical circuits of voltage present (even if no current is flowing) TIF Tic Tracer is used during the process of home inspection.
Binoculars - this tool is used for checking remote roofs, windowsills, sofits, etc.
Ladder - A ladder of convenient length and weight is necessary to inspect the roof of the house.
AWL- this equipment is required to detect dry rot and termite damage in floor joists.
Microwave oven test equipment - for a comprehensive testing of the built-in microwaves, two types of testers are required. One is passed around door gasket of the microwave to see if there is any leakage and the other is kept inside it to test radiation.
Additional inspection tools
Apart from these, there are some more tools of the trade that are used by the inspector during the task of inspecting houses. However, they are not that crucial and hence fall under the list of additional inspection tools.
12 feet steel tape- this is good for exact measurement and is hence useful for the inspector to supply an unambiguous report.
¼"and 5/16"nut driver- these are needed to disassemble metal sheet work and it's better if they are magnetic.
4-way screw driver- this is used for various purposes and battery / rechargeable ones are more handy.
Tool carrier- a tool carrier can be defined as a case with a foam interior where every tool has a separate spot for its own. Such a tool carrier enables the inspector to carry all his home inspection tools together, without forgetting any.
Electrician's knife- these knives entail two blades. One is a standard knife blade whereas the other is a locking screwdriver blade.
Trenching shovel- it is at times necessary to uncover a small portion during inspection and at that time a trenching shovel comes to use.
Heavy-duty leather gloves and boots / galoshes- leather gloves are useful for inspectors while handling sheet metal or dirty items whereas boots and galoshes are absolute musts for working in the rain or snow.
Other than these additional equipments there are several more, which come to the inspector's aid during his/her task of assessment. Some of these include clip-on Ampmeter, camera (digital or 35mm), prong adapter, compass, night-light, spare batteries and bulbs, carpenter's level, coveralls (used for inspecting crawl spaces), plastic bucket of two-gallon size and sponges. For personal convenience, the inspector may carry umbrellas, lightweight bump hat and some rain clothing.
Thus, it's essential for a home inspector to be well aware of these tools of the trade and to carry them during his job for a convenient and unhindered inspection procedure.