Would you use a floor system tester?

I have contacted a company that is willing to modify their existing tester for use in the home inspection industry. I now wonder if I might be the only one of us who would find it useful.

For now, let’s assume that the costs of the tester is reasonable, and that its findings are indeed accurate. YOU would

  1. Use even if other HI’s fear liability issues with its use.
  2. Not use if available
  3. Campaign against its use because you don’t want to invest in another tester.
  4. Campaign against its use because you fear liability issues
  5. Give it a chance to prove or disprove its usefulness.

depends on what it tests?
I have a marble I carry that cost $.10 to check the slope of floors.:wink:
I didn’t even have to modify it to work for home inspections.

I haven’t used a marble - starting today I will have one! Do you report the speed of the marble or the distance it travels or both? Are you sure that a low spot is a structural integrity issue? My marble will identify the lowest point, I will set my tester in the lowest spots and highest spots and compare values. There could forseeable be 10% to 20% difference - I would expect 60 to 90% difference if there is termite damage. I don’t know for sure. The condition of the poll is that the tester accurately identifies weak areas of the floor system as determined in a lab. Suppose I prove that the marble is not the end all to your test and that the tester has repeatedly revealed problems that the marble did not - would you consider adding the tester to your arsenal?

The reason I believe that a sag will have a significantly greater structural integrity than termite damage is that with termites a large portion of the wood fiber is consumed.

I use a 2" stainless steel ball, and to date I have found (1) problem and it was so minor in a 1947 home that I ignored it.

Todd…where did you get the ball? I’d like to have one like that as well but haven’t located one. Must admit I haven’t looked too hard tough.

I got mine from my Grandfather, but you can get one here:


If I was you I would just get a nice smooth ball from any store, works the same and cost much less.

Originally Posted by roconnor
*As an SE called in to do evaluations on framing, as well as doing inspections on residential/commercial buildings, I can say without a doubt it sounds like you are opening up a huge can of worms and probably will end up on a slippery slope with a pit at the bottom.

In addition to far exceeding any HI SOP, what industry standards would you compare those readings to? Is the equipment calibrated to recognized procedures? What is the exact loading on the floor at the time of the inspection/measurements so those readings have meaning? There is also the potential legal issue of keeping a consistent level of inspection for all the systems/components of an inspection.

As an HI instructor also, I understand your delima as to where to draw the line as to calling for further evaluation or not. But there is no simple solution to get a more definitively answer to possibly “flexible” floors short of doing engineering deflection calculations. You should have one or two SE’s you are familiar with in your area that you defer to for evaluations, and I would recommend discussing your inspection procedures with them.

Flexibility of floors is just another item in a very long list of things where experience and working with specialists you may recommend over time is the answer.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:*

Originally Posted by roconnor
P.S. Even if you do come up with something to assist with your inspections, I wouldn’t put anything even close to that in a written report … :shock:

(I pulled this from the other post with the hope that we can all get on this one.)

Thank you Robert.

Perhaps I am not an SE (Structural Engineer) because I don’t think of things in the way you (or they) do. A Pharaoh once said “build me a pyramid!” (this could have started with "In the beginning A Pharaoh …) Can you imagine all the reasons given why this could not be done? (assume they didn’t mind having their heads separated from shoulders.)

This is not to make light of your thoughts! I have not considered these things. None-the-less I have to assume that if the way I feel about my ‘belly jiggle’ when I walk a floor can predict a problem fairly well, then a light-weight, easy-to-use laboratory prooven tester ought to do it better. Right?

Of course, you are aware that the MOE of a structural component can be determine without the benefit of
“stress tests.” I now realize that in my aforementioned proposal I have used the word “system” when I should have used the word “area.” That is “Floor area” rather than “Floor System.” Would this make a difference?

Let me explain. The marble I now carry in my pocket (thank you Kevin P. Mc Mahon) would take me to the floor’s lowest spot and here the tester would present an MOE value directly below the test - up to 18" depth (or 45.72cm). If I move two feet away and I cannot get a similar reading I have reason to suspect a problem (remember I don’t pull out the tester unless I feel it will tell me something - meaning I have considered the immediate environment.) How about a sill plate? Many times one side of it is exposed and does not look good. My tester will tell me how this spot compares to a spot a foot or six inches removed.

Rather than to say “Why?” I have chosen to say “Why not?”
You can find from my posts to other threads that I shutter at anything that will put my “liability” to challenge. However, I (apparently) have more tolerance for this when it is “MY IDEA.” This is exactly why I put this proposal to our membership - I have chased bad ideas before, i.e., back in 1971 I was going to add a touch-tone memory to a telephone (I knew how to do it) and my friends said “that’s a crazy notion, no one would want it …” and only five years later someone brought the first to market. So, on this one, give me some credit here - I didn’t ask my friends!

Back to the liability thing. Someone within these threads revealed that a Home Inspector was, or is being, sued for a ridiculous amount of money because the inspectors “mold tests” indicated to the a client that his investments in repairs were not needed. This too is beyond the HI SOP but many inspectors offer the service with anticipated risks. If we look at the depth of understanding we seeks, as industry specialist, most of us perform substantially above the standers (but occasionally miss a simple thing.) So why is a CMI needed - or even certification or licensing for that matter? Isn’t it true that if we perform to the level of the SOP’s most of us ‘jack of all trades’ would perform adequately with a “Handbook” and a relatively simple form. **The qualification for a *CERTIFIED Home Inspector ***should **require: 1) a MINIMUM of twenty-years of hands-on ‘Trades’ experiences, and 2) test completion to show command of the Handbook. That is it. **Wisdom is not gained from a book and we don’t want to compete with young folks who are looking for an “easy” job. When we are fifty years of age and are being replaced by the young strong guys, the HI industry utilizes our life experiences in a way not appreciated by employers who need the fast and strong. Why is our door open to the young with insufficient intuition? Age discrimination you say? Then lets consider strength and speed discrimination. Why not?

Okay, back to the point: “the litigious among us.” There is blatant incompetence which I expect to be accountable for. All other things are covered my our contract with our client. Disclaimer, disclaimer, disclaimer… Still not infallible. Maybe some of us just take ourselves too seriously, pretending to place genius before our clients. (There is always someone smarter, bigger, wiser…) This guy should be sued. I have driven the Freeways between the length of New Hampshire to Jacksonville Fl, through all the southern states to Ca, to WA, to Montana, to Colorado. If these are driven at five miles over the speed limit I bet you have a 99.99999999…% chance of NOT getting a speeding ticket for your five miles over the limit. And, similarly, if you do not insult your client and performed an honest home inspection to the best of your ability, I bet you would have equal chance of NOT finding yourself in a court room. Joe Ferry - is this true?

So, in conclusion, the Floor Area test is a simple “relative” test that I would gamble would not put me in a court room and would provide a client powerful information to consider in a home inspection. (I can hear Realtors pounding their collective jaws as I speak.) Yet, if a Realtor is buying a property for his personal investment I bet he would call me rather than is reliable HI that he sends his clients to.

Robert, as a Structural Engineer wouldn’t such a tester be invaluable in your service and potentially save you time during evaluations and reduce the possibility of finding your company in a court room if used appropriately?

(Sorry - lot’s to consider here, appreciate everyone’s help.)

Can someone please post a link to this “floor system tester”? Thanks.

Gnik Nus,

There isn’t one, yet.

My take is he’s “floor testing” the members to see if it would be a marketable tool.

After starting 4 threads on the same topic and no “real” interest I’d hope the answer is obvious.

My market and most of this state is probably over 90% slab. I’ve not run into many spongy slabs. They may be out there but I think I’ll know one when I see one.

I thought maybe he was talking about a manometer. There is one company here, a multi-inspector local firm, that uses manometers on all their inspections. They’re all engineers, though, and interestingly, they apparently have a lot of lawsuits against them. They just consider lawsuits a cost of doing business, I guess. They are self-insured with E&O. It’s a good case for the obvious in that an engineer, a plumber, an electrician, a roofing contractor, etc., don’t necessarily make good home inspectors.

Exactly how would one use a manometer to check for “soft floors”?

RR may be referring to a Water Level

The purpose of this (these) posts is to get a sense for the acceptance of such a tester among our NACHI members and would be helpful if all would cast a vote. I do not want to put a company down a path that would not replace at least their development/marketing costs. Currently we see from the poll that about 32% of voters are positive, and 15% would would try to convince the 32% to stay away from it for the good of the industry. But the vote count is much too small at this point to make too much of it.

If not obvious, i made mistasks while trying to create the posts both using inaccurate wording and “clicking” at the wrong time or place. (I am not drinking or smoking …)

I am interested in viable argument against its use because it may truly be a path better not taken - at least for the HI industry, but may be better suited to the Engineering proffession. We, HI’s, would use it to accomplish an on-off test (do I report it or not?) and this kind of test is not what engineers do, thus they can think of many concerns with the testers use. I think most all of us use an electrical ground tester without fear of it taking us to court. I see my use of the floor area tester to be the same as this basic electrical tester. The difference is that when using the floor tester the HI must trust his/her ability to exercise good judgment - he/she probably would have walked on a lot of floors in their lifetime O:).

I hope we can get more HI’s to cast votes. Thanks for your comments and sorry for the confusion.


Also called a manometer by engineers.

The same way one would use the marble or the ball, except that a manometer is much more impressive to one’s Clients. I have tennis balls, but I use them on the tennis court or to play with dogs and cats, not for home inspections. I use my manometer for PREMIUM and TECH inspections when necessary.

I’m still not clear on the concept, so I have not yet voted.

I have all sorts of contraptions for my PREMIUM and TECH inspections, so I’d be interested if I can get clear on the concept and know exactly what it does and how it works.

Are you sure?


I’m familiar with the definition, and I have argued with engineers in Texas (Kingsville, Houston, Victoria, Corpus Christi, Bryan, College Station, Austin, San Antonio, Tyler, and El Paso), as well as with engineers here, and when it comes to using a “water level” in real estate, they for some reason call them manometers. I have quit arguing with them and simply call it a manometer like they do. DeBerry Engineering here uses manometers, which, for some strange reason, look and work just like my “water level.”

It took me a while to figure out what they were talking about, so I finally called an engineering friend in Austin who I knew from Texas A&M. He gave me almost the exact photo you gave me. So I called DeBerry and had them do a home inspection on a property I was renovating. Specifically stated that I was concerned about the foundation and the floors and understood that they did manometer surveys on real estate. They do, and they did, and they used a “water level.” So I went out and bought one so that now I can also do manometer surveys when Clients request them. And I emailed Steve (http://www.garrett-ihnen.com/) informing him what it was. He eventually confirmed that in some areas of real estate, a “water level” is called a “manometer.” I think we are in that “some area.”

Please don’t get testy with me Russel. You used a term (manometer) that many here would not recognize as a tool for home inspections.
The term water level is widely recognized here and well understood.

Well, I’m not sure how my explanation got to be “testy,” but in the interest of good relations, I’ll provide you with a politician’s apology: “I’m sorry you misunderstood my post.” :margarit:

And that’s exactly why I provided further explanation in my post. Once again, I’m sorry if you thought the post was testy. You haven’t seen testy. My employees, however, have. :margarit: