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According to a survey of home buyers who had a recent inspection, 86% of them learned of at least one problem with the home. When you find a home you like, it’s disappointing to find an issue.

There’s a silver lining though—nearly half of the people from the above survey used the inspection results to negotiate a lower price.

If you’re in the market for a new home, you can’t afford not to hire a home inspector. That doesn’t mean you don’t have questions.

For example, what tools does a home inspector need to look for potential issues in a home?

Read on to learn what’s in a home inspector toolkit. You’ll know what to expect when your inspector shows up and gain a better appreciation of the profession.

What Tools Does a Home Inspector Need? An Overview

A general home inspector is a certified professional who will evaluate the inside and outside of the house as well as all of the systems inside.

They’ll check the electrical, plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems. They will also evaluate the overall structure of the house including the roof, basement, and foundation, as well as the walls, ceilings, and floors throughout the house. 

If the home inspector thinks there’s an issue with the roof or the foundation, they’ll refer you to a specialist. A home inspector looks for general issues, whereas a specialist is qualified to identify the specific problem with a roof or foundation. 

High-Powered Flashlight

A home inspector has to investigate dark places of your home like your attic, basement, crawlspace, and chimney. That’s why a good flashlight is critical.

A flashlight also makes it easier to spot signs of water damage like water stains or patches in drywall. It’s also a useful way to spot wood rot or termite damage. 

Many inspectors carry multiple flashlights for different uses. For example, a headlight makes it easy to navigate attics and a very bright handheld flashlight makes it easier to check the wiring in the breaker box. 

Electric GFCI Outlet Tester

All home inspectors will carry some type of outlet tester. They use these testers to check the safety of every outlet in the home. 

Inspectors look for potential electrical issues like ungrounded outlets or reversed wiring, which can be fire or shock hazards. Homes built before the 1960s often have ungrounded outlets, but they’re not necessarily unsafe. 

Outlets near water, like the ones in kitchens and bathrooms, should also have GFCI capability. These outlets are supposed to trip when they’re overloaded to prevent shock. Your inspector will use an outlet tester with GFCI capability to make sure that the outlet is working properly. 


A screwdriver is a multipurpose tool that your inspector might carry with them. They may need to remove an electrical outlet cover or pry something open. 

It’s also a great tool to check for wood rot. If your inspector suspects rot, they might poke the screwdriver into a wood trim or a window ledge.

If it gives way, they’ll know there’s rot. Plus, it’s also a helpful measurement when photographing wood rot. It’s clear how much damage there is based on how deep the screwdriver went into the wood.  

Moisture Meter

Some inspectors carry moisture meters to detect active water leaks. Even if there is no active water, it can point to a risk of mold growth. 

Most models offer a percentage of water from 0 to 100%. This device will help the inspector evaluate the water leak without ripping into the drywall. A 30% moisture reading would be bad, but not as serious as an 80% reading. 

Protective Face Mask or Respirator

A good face mask or respirator should be a part of any home inspector tool kit. They may choose an N95 or a respirator depending on their personal preference. 

The attic, basement, crawlspace, or garage could be home to dangerous substances. For example, spray polyurethane foam insulation and asbestos can both pose health risks if you disturb them. 

You may or may not have these substances in the home you want to buy, but your inspector will still take these precautions. If you have an asbestos problem, you may be able to negotiate a lower price since it can be expensive to get rid of. 

Gloves, Safety Glasses, and Shoe Covers

Many inspectors also bring along protective gear like gloves, shoe covers, and safety glasses. 

They’ll need to check potentially dirty areas like the fireplace or inside the furnace. The gloves will protect their hands and also keep them from transferring that dirt to other places in the home. The safety glasses protect their eyes from falling debris. 

Disposable or rubber shoe covers come in handy as they investigate crawl spaces or walk on the roof. It protects their shoes and prevents them from tracking dirt through the house. 

Tape Measure and Level

Your inspector may need to record the dimensions of a door or a window for their report, so a tape measure will come in handy. They might also measure things like stair height if they think it looks unsafe. 

A tape measure is also useful for when they photograph problems since it provides scale. 

Some inspectors use a level to check for bowed ceilings or sloped floors. If the floor slopes, it may point to a foundation issue. 


A professional home inspector should always bring a ladder. There’s a good chance the home you want to buy doesn’t have a ladder to the attic.

Checking the attic is an important part of the process so it’s important for your inspector to have a reliable ladder.  

They also may need to get a closer look at the ceiling, check the gutters, or get onto the roof.

Schedule a Home Inspection Today

If this will be your first experience with a home inspector you might wonder, “What tools does a home inspector need?”. Now that you know what sort of tools an inspector uses, you’ll know what to expect from an inspection. 

If you’re in the process of buying a home in the northeast Ohio area, schedule an inspection with us today.