If you’ve ever hired a home inspector and were present for the inspection, you may have looked at his/her tool bag with interest. Inspectors carry and use all sorts of useful gadgets. The right tools are necessary for conducting a thorough, top-to-bottom inspection of a home. In this article, we’ll discuss this subject in detail, and help you understand a few of the common home inspector tools of the trade used to examine and evaluate homes.
Gas Leak Testers
There are a variety of gas leak testers available for home use, but home inspectors use high-quality, professional-grade gas leak testers, which are extremely sensitive and can detect even the smallest gas leaks. The gases typically tested for are natural gas and propane.
Gas leak testers are used wherever there is a gas line – to test for leaks near combustion appliances like furnaces, water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas fireplaces, and other such devices. Gas leaks can be dangerous and elusive, so proper recognition and detection of a leak is a key element of any home inspection.
CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors are used to detect even the smallest levels of carbon monoxide in a home. These handheld devices are used to ensure that there are no harmful levels of carbon monoxide in a home, which may otherwise be overlooked because carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. CO is primarily created by central heating systems and other household appliances that use gas, wood, or coal as their source of power.
Outlet testers are small devices with an electronic readout, which are plugged directly into power outlets to check their functionality – and verify that proper voltage and power is flowing through the outlet. Inconsistent or improper readings may indicate wiring or electrical issues, which may require further testing and examination.
Non-Contact Voltage Testers
These devices are used to test wires, cables and other electrical equipment to check if the wire is “live” and has electricity flowing through it. This is useful for ensuring safety when checking electrical systems. It can also be helpful when finding opened spliced wiring or older wiring to ensure it is no longer active.
Moisture meters are used to help diagnose a wide variety of issues and detect things like leaks in the roof, leaks in plumbing systems, moisture in the walls, potential mold growth, and more. Moisture meters use a special electrical system, which can detect changes in resistance and electromagnetic signals, to determine if there is moisture present in a wall or another area.
Ladders are needed to access the roof, attic spaces, and high ceilings. Many inspectors use compact ladders, such as the Telesteps brand telescoping ladder. Telesteps ladders are collapsible, lightweight ladders that can be extended to multiple heights, making them a versatile tool for a variety of scenarios, while also providing a compact design for portability.
Thermometers and IR cameras
Inspectors may use a variety of different types of thermometers for a variety of tasks. Infrared thermometers are useful to measure the temperature at HVAC systems. Digital readout thermometers or simple probe thermometers are useful to measure both domestic hot water temperature and air conditioner temperature drops.
An infrared camera may also be used, to help make an energy efficiency assessment. IR cameras can help gauge the insulation levels in finished walls or ceilings and can be useful to determine if there are any significant voids or gaps in insulation that is otherwise not visible. IR cameras can also be used to pinpoint or inspect for moisture, as temperature differentials visible on surfaces can indicate an area that is wet. We currently utilize Flir IR Cameras.
Various other hand tools
Inspectors will also carry a variety of other hand tools to aid them in their inspection, which serve more straightforward purposes. Flashlights, measuring devices, multi-purpose screwdrivers, water pressure gauges, levels, and various other hand tools are all important in the home inspection process.
Got More Questions? Ask Your Home Inspector!
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand the basic tools of the trade. If you have questions, just ask your home inspector – and you can learn more about the process, tools of the trade, and other such topics. For other helpful articles and blog posts from Scott Home Inspection, visit our Ask Your Inspector page.