A Probing Question: Seller angry about probing damage to rotten door jamb

HAH you beat me to it. That is funny!! :rofl:


Rotted wood never helps. The rotted wood just holds moisture. Thus for building preservation, it is likely better to have the old crap out of there so things can dry, and maybe a bit of plastic duct or gaff taped over the gap.

My apologies, Marc.
I could/should have been more sensative in my reply.
I meant to say, IR are cheap.

‘Cheep to purchase a Infrared thermal imager?’ SEEK Compact Pro Series 320x240 thermal imaging.
Combine termite tubes.
No need to destroy wood to look for termites.

I will do better next time.

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Of course. But that’s not the topic here. The question was about whether you need to probe it and most of the time you don’t. You can just take a picture of it and call it out for replacement. There’s no need to stick a screw driver in it.

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Eric … After 35+ yrs of inspecting myself AND after 25 yrs of having taught both 2 week training classes for new inspectors AND teaching CE classes locally and a national seminars for InterNACHI, ASHI and NAHI … I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this type complaint from other inspectors. EVERYONE has their own way of handling it OR responding to it. VERY frequently the complaint comes from a sellers real estate agent trying to keep HIS/HER client from having to pay for something OR from a disgruntled seller who did a half-ass TEMPORARY repair AND got caught AND wants someone else to pay to repair it the right way.

When I have received this kind of approach myself OR from one of the inspectors working with me … My own approach has been geared to HOW they approach me to start with. IF they are relatively polite, I will offer to buy them a tube of colored caulk so they can dab it on the hole AND do another half-ass repair. IF they get rude OR threatening … I write a nice polite letter discussing that WE are not supermen AND that wood or drywall, etc is designed to be touched without a finger, screwdriver, etc GOING all the way thru it - then discussing FAILURE to disclose, the seller trying to deliberately hide known defects from the buyer, potential fraud, etc, etc. If the listing agent try’s getting into the fray, I have sent them a letter also discussing what I’ve already said AND explaining we can hash this out when I file an ethics complaint before their state board for aiding the seller in his/her potential fraud and FAILURE to disclose, etc, etc.

In 35+ yrs after I respond with a GET in THEIR FACE letter, I have NEVER heard back from a seller or their agent. But I will also say, if you want to suck up to agents, my way is NOT gonna get you a reputation for a SOFT touch which many agents adore.


The home inspection regs in my state say you can probe structural components, but only if you know that the probing won’t damage “any finished surface.”


Welcome to Florida!

The Department has adopted a rule (Chapter 5E-14.142 (2)(c), Florida Administrative Code)

The rule also states the general standards that must be met when
conducting an inspection. These include:

Inspecting the Exterior of the Structure
The inspection will be visual but may include probing and sounding of structural members as deemed necessary by the inspector, based upon a preliminary finding of visual evidence of infestation or damage (5E-14.142(2)(c)2)

“Defacement to property” – when the inspection process causes damage or creates unsightliness to the structure being inspected
whether it be intentional or accidental

“Probing” – **the act of penetrating through the surface of a suspected area to determine the type of WDO present/ Probing will cause some degree of “defacement to the property”. **
Defacing property shall be strictly limited to that which is required
to determine the type of WDO damage/evidence present


Acknowledged. I made that comment more as part of a potential conversation with the owner, explaining why the “damage” is not really damage.

The issue here is disclosure, really.

Last time I checked the trim on the front door is not a structural component. Probing a beam or joist in a crawl space for termite damage is different. And also pretty impossible to probe anything without damaging the finished surface.

My whole point is that you don’t need to probe in order to call the rotted trim out as a defect and that probing just creates unnecessary problems with the seller or listing agent. Why create all that stress for something you can just take a pic of?


All you really did was reveal what was previously there maybe offer a paint brush and some paint and repaint it but the material was damaged before you even got there you merely divulged it

Not necessarily. Sometimes wood rot is not visible without touching, and sometimes even light touching will damage.
This is especially true with termite damage. They will always eat as close as they can to the exterior edge of the wood without going through. Usually when I suspect termite damage, I will push with my finger, or tap with my probe, and it usually goes right through.
here is a pic from just a few days ago. These two holes were caused with just my finger. (I then probed a bit more to determine if it was indeed termite) What initially just looked like peeling paint was in fact termite
As marc posted above, at least Florida has made some protection for inspectors.


Like @jjonas I do not probe with a tool often. Decks are where I will dig in a bit. Most everything else will expose itself with the eye followed by a touch as needed. A thick coat of paint will not fool a seasoned inspector.


Nice catch.

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