Need Help choosing Inspectors tools!

Hello everyone,

First let me start by commenting on the quality of this website and the people on this forum that helped me in more ways that I could possibly imagine.

I know what association I’ll join when it will come the time to pick one :smiley:

But for now… Well it’s time for me to invest in some tools and I read several threads in this forum and while they were helpful to guide me in the right direction, now I’m looking for more specific answers.

If my fellow HI’s would help me define the type of tools that I need that would be greatly appreciated.

Also note that for the sake of simplicity, the links provided are for a specific vendor but I’m in no way, shape or form, affiliate with it, as a matter of fact I’ll most likely purchase my tools from other sources, where I can get them 30-40% off the price. I just happenned to have that vendor website open when I created this message and they are easy to browse…

First things first, The Electrical Circuit Tester:

This one at $289.95

Or this one at $189.95

1- Obviously the first one has more features, but do I really need them for my first inspections?

2- Is the $100 difference justified?

3- Are they missing a critical feature for the inspection of the electrical system in the structure?
3a- If so, which one?

4- And last but not least, is there an even cheaper option?

Alright, now onto our second buddy, The Moisture meter:

The infamous Surveymaster at $439

Or this one at $365

And what about this one at $179

1- I know it’s doesn’t have the dual function (invasive, non-invasive) but the price difference is huge and I was wondering if poking a few tiny holes in the house was such a big deal?

2- And as with the electric circuit tester, do you have a better and/or cheaper option?

And finally let’s talk about gas detectors:

here is a cool one but $379!

1- Now comes the big question, do I really care about CO detection for a basic 4 point inspection or a regular home inspection for that matter?

What about the good ole TIF 8800 at $191.95?

2- Will I be set for all of my regular gas detection needs with it?

Or what about this one that looks slicker and cooler than the TIF, less expensive too at $159.95?

And to finish let’s talk about the Bacharach at $279.95
It seems that the last one underlines an issue that I didn’t thought about it, the maintenance of the gas detector, but my question is:

3- Is that really an issue?

4- Are you HIs replacing or changing your gas detectors battery or sensors that often that I should consider this in choosing the right gas detector?

And of course the usual, last question:
5- Is there a better (read more complete) and/or cheaper option?

Please keep in mind that this is for a new HI Service, so my budget is really really tight, and $100 - $200 difference, while not a BIG deal it’s still a substantial extra expense that I cannot overlook, since as you can imagine I have many other expenses to consider as well, and it all starting to add up.

Thank you for reading this far… :wink:

Good luck

on starting your HI Service; for tools try ebay. I have bought several HI tools on ebay, to replace lost or old/damaged ones. Surveymaster on ebay, I paid less than $200.00 (new) it takes time I was out bid on several items over many months but to save money, its worth the time. If you need HI software try Home Inspector Pro Inspection Software.

Gary :smile:

Hey Gary,

I’m from Miami, down here in the warm sunshine state :wink:

Yeah eBay is good but I found an even better option, it’s Craig List, a lot of untaped resources from retired HIs, PEs and all sort of “crafters” on that site.

Also working a deal with a vendor for the tools I won’t find at a discount price elsewhere…

Anyway… The problem is that there’s so much choice!

I did a couple “tag along” inspections already and have a very basic idea on the tools I need, but the thing is the inspectors were all complaining that they needed this or that and they were both using very basic testing tools…

I would hate to find myself wanting to do a specific test on a system but not being able to do so because I skimped $50 and bought an inferior or unreliable tool…
On the other hand I don’t exactly have thousands of dollars to spend on tools, so I’m trying to find the best ratio price/quality.

I probably own most of the stuff you have listed and I’ve never bought a single item from Professional Equipment. While they are great people, they are the middle man and you pay for that. It indicates you are in Miami area. First thing go to Johnstone Wholesale Supply (there are two of them in Miami) and set yourself up with a “cash account” so you can buy from them. Tell them you are getting into the HI business and would like to buy all or most of your testers and tools from them. You will pay wholesale rather than retail and save a ****load of money, plus it the item goes TU you can usually take it back and they will replace it, same day, you are not sitting around waiting for someone to “get back to you” or waiting on the UPS truck to bring your item. Ive been using Johnstone for over 12 years. I also buy repair items for my own appliances and home there at a huge discount. Ive replaced condenser fan motors, gas range keypads, etc. usually for about half what the retail guys want for it. Many of the items you are looking at buying , you simply do not need right out of the chute. Buy a really GOOD ladder, not some cheap, flimsy POS, a really good flashlight or two. I have probably 6 flashlights. Buy a 6 in 1 screwdriver (Klein makes a great one…get at Johnstone again). I got four or five moisture meters, I use the $27 one most of the time. The $1000 one sits in the case in the truck. If something is wet, its wet…do you really give a big RA how wet? Ive done side by side comparisons and the cheap one reads exactly the same as the real expensive one. Wet = Wet! Basic hand tools first starting out for a couple reasons. You may decide early on this isn’t right for you, then you have to sell off all your nice expensive tools and take a shellacking on them. There have been people who got out from under their first crawl space and said this crap ain’t for me! South Florida…you are liable to run up on some critters under a house…plan on it. If you do not like spiders, snakes, rats, sewer water, geckos, etc. this is not going to be a lot of fun times for you. Get some first rate training to lean onto rather than a lot of fancy, expensive tools and gadgets. All the gadgets in the world can’t make up for good training and experience. Experience takes time, training you can get now, but do not stop after just getting thru HI school. Look for educational opportunities everywhere you can.

Not trying to dissuade you, just a reality check. This way, if you decide not to pursue HI as a career, the worst that happens is you got a nice ladder and flashlight.

Hiya Doug,

Thanks for the info! Johston Wholesale Supply huh…
Sounds like the Costco for Construction Equipment haha
I’ll definitely go check them out as Craig List or eBay doesn’t offer any kind of warranty and that’s a big downside.

You’re right that this job is not for everyone, so far my field experience was with 3 HI and luckily the houses were all slab-on-grade, so were the few friends and family houses that I “practice on” so no nasty crawling or scary basements… now what we do see here all the time are the biggest cockroaches EVER! Seriously these bugs are something out of this planet…
They fly around, crawl on your arms and back, fall on your head… and all kind of joyful sights as soon as you open and enter the attic…

I can see why some people would freak out, but I’m ok… so far hehe

As for my training… well I have a construction background from Europe (where I come from) but is not really helping here in the US and I feel like starting anew unlearning a lot, I’m enrolled into AHIT online training and also checking all the cool free stuff on

It’s just the beginning of a long journey but I’m doing good so far… I expect to finish my basic training in 4-5 months from now before I start getting sued… erhmm I mean doing inspections. haha

Anyway… what about the tools in my initial post, which one would you get from that list if you had to pick JUST ONE from EACH category to start with?

Knowing what I know now. The only one I would personally pick first is the Ideal 61-059, the small circuit tester. I have one and use it every day for inspections. I have the other but rarely pull it out. The nice feature of the big boy is it gives digital read out while the other is idiot lights. The large tester has a history of breaking down internally at the cord connection. If it does break, Ideal will give you a new one or fix the old one for free. I like having it for those times when I get some other indications there are problems. It is a good analytical tool. I got my 61-059 thru special order at Home Depot for $149 just because I got a discount on it. Johnstone has them as well. You can go to their website

I have a TIFF 8800, hardly ever use it. Like I said I have numerous moisture meters but still use the Sonic Rapitest most of the time because I made an extension pole with a clamp for reaching high ceilings and tight spots with it. It has pins but on a coil cord. Many like the Protemeter, pinless, but to that is personal choice.

I agree with everything Doug has told you. Good advice Doug. But it sounds like you have made up your mind. so here is my opinion.

Circuit tester…I still do not use one, because if your client moves in, and one circuit is not working or weak, they will say you should have found that. So, I only check outlets for ground problems and if all switches work. Just how I do it, others may do or say otherwise.

Moisture meter…cheap $20.00 one will work fine. But for hard to reach areas the Surveymaster is nice because of the “attachments” that it has. I have this and several cheapies that I use more often.

Gas detector…I have a TIFF that I use on almost every inspection, works great, recharging is a pain though, in my opinion. I also have a CO detector from Mannix, DC01002.

As I said, I’m sure others will disagree or have other opinions. Take all of it in and make a sound decision. I think Doug has given you the best advice you are going to get though.

Tony, If your budget is really tight, you may want to hold off for now on the TIF. I purchased one and have never really used it. If you smell gas you already know what you need to know :slight_smile: Anyway, just something to think about.

That’s is exactly what I wanted to hear, thanks Doug.

So basically the $100 difference from the IDEAL circuit analyzer and the IDEAL circuit tester is just fluff? It seems that their main difference is that one measures voltage drop and the other doesn’t… but if you never or barely use that feature in your inspections then I guess it’s not worth it.


About the TIFF 880, so you never use a detector for gas leaks?
I mean I know the best detector is your own nose but dunno I was under the impression that this was a mandatory tool to have.
What do you think of that UEI gas detector instead of a TIFF 8800 or the Bacharach 19-7051, it looks cool and I’m sure I can find it dirt cheap?

I think I’m gonna try to get a Protimeter Surveymaster and find it cheap as from various feedback it seems like one of the best moisture meter out there in that price range.

Thank you again Doug!

EDIT: I see more comments, keep’ em coming folks, this is invaluable info! Thanks!

We have the Giant flying Cockroaches here in NW Florida too only we call them “Palmetto Bugs” for the tourists’ sake. And yes they will fly and land on you, usually in your hair. That freaks the tourist out but is hilariously funny to watch, especially when they run smack into a tree trying to “get away” from the “big bug”.

that is one nasty looking bug and i’m pretty sure that it is responsibele for a lot of people that decided not to move to Florida…well that and the snakes …I’d guess…:roll:

Guess I’ll just get the cheapest GFCI/AFCI tester I can find, just to have one…
And yeah I found some 10 bucks outlets testers, which from what I gather is good enough for now.

$20?! Which one? hah talk about cheap stuff… I guess I can start with that and get a surveymaster later down the road.

I saw one that is a combo “combustibles gas and CO detector” for about $350.
Do you use the CO detector often enough to justify its purchase for a starting HI?
Although I have very little to zero field experience from what I saw it seems that no one uses any gas detector… at all. But they all have one “just in case”

Yeah Robert, that’s basically the general opinion I got…
But you know the “what if” situation is killing me.

Basically I have the feeling that you can get away with writing down on the report that this [insert system] has a strong gas odor and I recommend having a qualified [insert system] specialist check it for a further evaluation.

…in the meantime, start running away as fast as you can before the explosion :|.)

$20.00 moisture meters are available at most local hardware stores. As stated above it works about the same, just some are easier to use than others. Outlet testers should get you started with the basics. I would hold on to your money as long as you can. It’s hard to get going in this business.

Moisture meters;

Great information you have all given, and I, too, am looking for different tools, and what is the best moisture meter to get, evasive or non evasive, for all around use. Is a co meter realler necessary?

A CO meter is not a necessity really, but you can use it as a marketing tool. Your competition may not use one and you can get inspections just because you test for it. Just my opinion, by advertising that I test this, I have gotten inspections away from my competition because of this. It is just a matter of how in depth you want to get on an inspection. But there is always liability with this as well.


Don’t you mean invasive and non-invasive in stead of evasive or non evasive?
Big difference when writing a report or general conversation for that matter.

I prefer a dual use moisture meter for actual moisture content readings in attics, crawlspaces and at baseboards or tack strips. No way am I poking holes anywhere else unless the client owns the property in question and signs a global release.

CO analysis is necessary only if you offer that service as testing/metering for CO goes beyond most HI associations SOP. The only way any of us should be doing CO is with training and following thisor other industry protocols. All of these specialized tools should be in top condition and re-calibrated for accuracy per manufacture instructions. Otherwise you could be doing your clients and yourself a great disservice.

Barry, thanks for the heads up and that link! Very interesting.

Barry, I agree. But I do carry one clipped to me for my own personal safety.

The kicker is if my unit were to sound (hasn’t yet), I would be obligated to mention this fact to the buyer and seller.