Home inspectors face a broad and varied number of needs in terms of performing a thorough home inspection. It is true that currently, there are no industry-wide mandated items that they must have to perform their job safely and thoroughly from a physical and legal standpoint. The existing truth that trumps that reality is that the more prepared they are in terms of items for accurate measurement and inspection as well as versatility of safety and access, the more effective they will be at their job. What follows is a general breakdown of home inspection tools as well as other tools for professional safety such as E&O insurance that are crucial to performance, effectiveness, and safety on the job.
Gloves, safety glasses, boots, and a sturdy, practical ladder are a must for any inspector. So too are heavy duty protective gloves as well as electrical gloves. The electrical gloves should meet ASTM D-120/EIC903 specifications and have high dielectric and physical strength. They typically consist of liner gloves under rubber insulating gloves, with protective leather gloves worn over these. High-traction roof boots with replaceable soles make it easier for inspectors to walk roofs without slipping. Although a significant number of home inspectors still utilize conventional ladders, many inspectors utilize telescoping ladders for ease of carrying for roof access and some internal areas.
A toolkit that includes binoculars, steel tape measure, ¼” and 5/16” nut driver and a four-way screwdriver often comes in handy. Other items for the toolkit include telescoping magnets for retrieving screws, electrician’s knife, compass, night-light, spare batteries and bulbs, and carpenter’s level may also be included. A smoke pen to see air movement when checking combustion appliances for back-drafting of toxic exhaust gases as well as to ensure return-air vents are operating properly is also a handy toolkit addition.
Telescoping adjustable mirrors for looking into areas where accessibility is limited and a flame mirror to inspect the interiors of oil burners are important additions as well. Having a tool vest provides portability to carry things like the flashlight, a moisture meter, infrared thermometer, electrical testers, cell phone, and a mirror among other commonly needed items.
High-quality disposable dust masks can protect against dust and other contaminants such as insulation particles that may get into the lungs. In addition, inspectors should have a respirator for the times when they must enter areas containing materials that represent biological hazards. These can include viral, bacterial and fungal organisms that can lodge in the respiratory system as well as asbestos and other carcinogens.
As to important meters for the inspector, they include a multimeter to detect live electrical circuits of voltage present (even if no current is flowing), as well as carbon monoxide analyzer to test for the gas emanating from water heaters, furnaces, and boilers. Also, a portable combustible gas leak detector permits checking for toxic gas leaks in the gas line. An analog or digital metal shaft thermometer comes in handy to measure the temperature differential in cooling and heating systems.
Other important analyzers used by inspectors are moisture meters and infrared cameras. Moisture meters can quantify the percentage of moisture content in wood and non-wood products or to track down roof and plumbing leaks, missing insulation and assess the home’s overall energy efficiency. Infrared thermometers are used for checking the temperature of heating and cooling equipment, including registers, hot water, etc., and the temperature of electrical equipment, such as circuit breakers.
In addition to home inspection tools that allow a thorough and safe home inspection, it is imperative that a home inspector has the tools that protect his business as well. Errors & Omissions, which is commonly referred to as E&O insurance, provides the home inspector with coverage that mitigates any financial loss that may come from being held legally responsible for financial losses someone may incur because of something the inspector failed to find or report in the course of the inspection.
In addition to E&O insurance coverage, home inspectors are best served by also having
General Liability insurance. This provides them with coverage if damage occurs to the home or someone is physically harmed at the home due to some type of negligence by the inspector, such as a falling ladder.
Although training and experience are key determinants of the ability of a home inspector, they can only be maximized through the proper home inspection tools. These tools not only provide the means for the most effective inspection, they also provide the highest level of safety to the inspector, the occupants, and the business of the inspector.