March, 2012
You Tell Us
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Brighter Still


To the Editor:

Many thanks for Rick Bunzel's concise flashlight comparison in the January issue of the ASHI Reporter. Having worked in the high-performance LED flashlight industry as an executive and an engineer for two years, I was encouraged by his balance of technicality and utility. Matters can get a lot more technical and even emotional as there are nearly a million flashaholics (seriously) on websites like where flashlight enthusiasts gather to compare not only the very latest in lumens, but experimental methodology as well! I suspect all the characters, except Penny, on the TV show "The Big Bang Theory" are members.

Now, as a real estate inspector in Atlanta and with my knowledge and experience in the flashlight world, I would like to offer another option to Rick's selection. There are other brands that use more recent LEDs from CREE that have higher luminous efficacies (more efficient). In addition, many of them offer multiple programmable modes on the fly simply by rotating their heads. This allows for high output, say 250+ lumens, and a strong spot in the middle for throw (looking through a deep attic or crawlspace) while shifting to a low setting around 70 lumens for reading placards on a furnace. On their lowest setting and with their more current LEDs, batteries will last for as long as a month — nonstop. Plus, these lights are well under $100. There are even some lights no bigger than the palm of your hand with an output near 1,000 lumens. Yes, they are made in China. Most are.

In addition, using rechargeable Lithium Ion batteries (RCR123A) will save you a bundle in the long run. Simply have a set of primary (disposable) Lithiums (not Ion!) in your pocket for when they need recharging. Yes, you do have to remove the batteries from the flashlight to recharge them, but I find that I can inspect at least 10 homes before I do.

Vince Tidwell, ASHI member
Champia Real Estate Inspections
Atlanta, Ga.

Let's be perfectly clear

To the Editor:

The fact that the chimney is offset, not leaning, was not clarified in the text about the chimney (Postcards From the Field, January Reporter, page 37, see photos below). Notice that the mortar lines are horizontal. The chimney was built in the shape shown. I agree that an unlined brick chimney used for gas appliances will self-destruct due to condensation and acidity of the condensate, but the chimney is not leaning. Refer to the article I wrote about this several years ago. I agree it should not be used for gas appliances until a liner is installed. A flexible metal liner could be inserted in this flue once any loose material is removed and holes are patched.

Roger Hankey, AVI
Hankey and Brown Inspection Services
Eden Prairie, Minn.

Editor's response:
The author of this postcard, David Grudzinski, did not identify the lean of the chimney as an issue. The Postcard was titled "Chimney lean" by ASHI staff. We apologize for the error.