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New Inspector, Tools needed


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I am new to the business and just starting to get equipment. I have the basics in a good LED flashlight, multi bit screwdriver, GFCI tester and a good ladder.

My question is what other tools are essential? Do you have any that you specifically recommend? I've read through the forums and it seems some answers are dated or that people's answers vary greatly.

Any suggestions would be appreciated, thanks!

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A few other basic things come to mind....

moisture meter

knee pads

spare bulbs and batteries

inspection mirror

bandaids (people don't like you bleeding on their house)

duplicate tool of whatever you think may be lost or stop working during your day

a clean appearance and a vehicle that shows someone relying on your opinion that they can take you seriously

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I have used the Tramex Moisture Encounter Plus for years and am happy with it. Consider getting a drop cloth for when you are opening the attic scuttle(insulation often falls out). Set of binoculars. And as Les mentioned a good, tough camera. Find one that is water/dust proof like the Pentax W90. Water pressure gauge.

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Protimeter Surveymaster pinless is one of the best for all around moisture detection.

Tramex has one that is better for deeper readings.

I have a pouch with a belt clip for my moisture meter. It is either in my hand or in the pouch. The pouch was designed for old-fashioned (big) cellphones.

Any digital laser thermometer will do for starters. A bare hand works as well, but is less elegant.

A voltage sniffer is essential for knob and tube wiring, abandoned wiring, lights that don't work, etc.

A simple slot-type screwdriver with a slim handle, for poking and pointing.

Expect to lose tools when you are first starting out. After a while, you bring only what you need and you check inventory before the door gets locked. Even so, you will be going back to collect something you left in the house. Like Steven says, have spares of everything. My camera quit on me last week, but I had a spare in the glove box.

My Repair kit - Duct tape, black tape, clear packing tape. A few screws, finishing nails, machine screws, bit of wire. I don't do much damage, but the clear packing tape is great for putting something back that just won't stay where it was. [:)]

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My Fluke clamp-on is in my tool box too but the tool box is stored in my truck. The only occasions where I've pulled it during an HI was to measure the 208 leg on a resid 3 phase unbalanced neutral service. It measures voltage too.

Mark Cramer used it during my 90 hour HI course in 2002 to show neutral currents in an electrode grounding conductor but I don't perform such tests.


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Assuming you are going to go into attics and crawls, get a decent respirator and some disposal cover-alls. I like to carry the old fashioned 6' folding stick rule, and a spare camera for when the one you have in your hand stops working. The camera can take the place of a clip board for notes. A set of the latest Code-Chek books makes a great field reference.

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Knee-pads ... I have two styles: One pair for P&B crawls and one pair for simply doing the inspection. Two different styles of construction and covering for wear/abuse for the crawl and the regular inspection a style just to have a protective/soft covering for my knees.

I started wearing them for the entire inspection about 4 years ago when my knees starting giving out. Made a world of difference. Looks weird, but my knees are "very happy".

As for the knee & elbow pads for the crawls ... they don't get used anymore as I stopped doing P&B crawls two years ago.

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How about a clamp meter? If so, which one?

I use a cheesy Extech clamp-on meter. 99 bucks and accurate enough for home inspection. My Flukes stay safely in my tool box at home for the more demanding applications.

I have a Craftsman DMM that has standard probes, a clamp, and a temp probe. It came in a nice zipper pouch the size of a Day Timer with a voltage sniffer and an IR thermometer. It was cheap and more than enough for this gig.

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I carry (soon to be "carried" as I close shop) a cordless hand vac to vacuum up insulation from the attic scuttles. Clients and sellers alike love the attention to detail to clean up after myself. Also rags to clean up water splashes, etc. while operating fixtures. Also shoe covers.

Used a Tramex MEP and really liked it, as well as a Tif 8800A for checking gas lines and were very happy with them (just sold these).

A cordless screw gun or screw driver. A good utility razor knife for cutting paint around panel covers/side attic accesses is also good to prevent tearing the paint when removing them.

I also made up approx. 1' long pieces of various gauge wires with labels listing their feeder and service amperage ratings on them as little "cheat sheets" for odd occasions when I couldn't readily recognize the wire gauge and didn't want to rely on my memory for the rating or look it up.

I carried a larger bag inside to hold all these items, with a fanny pack for my smaller items such as tape measure, screwdriver, powder draft tester, 3 light tester, pliers, etc.

I still have a lot of miscellaneous things I'll be selling, if you think you'd be interested in any items shoot me a message.

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Extech has some nice, simple, cheap tools for HI work. They're a good value.


We kicked this around and Bob Kenney pointed out that the clamp meter needs to read leakage current to be useful. Good point, I thought.

What leakage will you need to measure in the context of a home inspection?

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