February, 2002
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Home Inspector's Toolbox

STEPHEN M. GLADSTONE

Sometimes the home inspection tools I evaluate don’t live up to their advertising hoopla, but not so today! The Protimeter Surveymaster, Palm-Tech Inspector hand-held program, and the Louisville tripod step ladder all earned positive reviews.

Answering questions about moisture

Who hasn’t been dealing with clients’ concerns about moisture in the home and molds and mildew being formed as a result of unseen leakage? Home inspectors must make hard calls when viewing moisture stains, loose tiles and or damaged wallboard. What’s the condition contributing to the damage? Is there hidden damage? How recent is the leak? Is it still leaking? We’ve been testing Protimeter’s Surveymaster this month – using it to try to find answers to some of these questions.

We found it to be a visually nice piece, sleek and easy to handle. The design gives the inspector a choice of intrusion points (when you can poke it into wood or drywall) and a radio sensor (when you have tile or surfaces that appear okay but you’re suspicious of). There are also remote tips that allow you to probe while keeping the unit close to your face to view the results. The scales are color-coded and easy to read and the instrument comes in a convenient carrying case. Chris Ranwell, Protimeter’s representative, said the Surveymaster is the No. 1 selling moisture meter in the inspection business, in part because it is a dependable tool that can easily be field calibrated by the inspector.

In the field tests, we found the Surveymaster to be dead-on accurate and unwavering in test boards. We were able to detect moisture under a solid sheet of drywall with the radio feature. For more information: pna@protimeter.com

Hand-held technology

The second featured “tool” is an upgraded and seriously souped-up Palm-Tech Inspector software program, which runs on the hand-held HP Jornada 720. The newest generation of handheld palm and windows CE programs designed to allow you to touch-screen, download, and field print your reports is amazing in terms of speed and richness. Now that these small computers are stronger and can handle more memory, you can download fast enough to keep pace with the inspector’s progress. Adding color can visually improve your report printing, and customizing forms is a snap. All can be synchronized to your office laptop, where photos and data base transfers can maintain all your recordkeeping needs. The designers are tuned into the needs of the inspection industry and the newest generation of field generated reports will become a trend! For more information: www.palm-tech.com.

Stepping up

We’ve been putting an interesting stepladder to the test for some time. The Louisville tripod stepladder is a rather unique heavy-duty fiberglass addition to their line. The ladder (we used the 6' version) has an easy to climb regular aluminum and fiberglass side and the tripod leg is a fiberglass rod that allows you to really use the ladder in tight areas. It gets you closer than a typical stepladder. With wide struts on the climbing side and a neat one-hand spreader brace opener mechanism, the ladder is amazingly solid.  If it has a drawback for inspection, the struts are wide and the ladder may not easily fit in your vehicle. If it does, you’ll wow clients with the
professional look of it. More importantly it feels safe and is easy to carry around. See www.louisvilleladder.com