Equipment & Tools
Once you become involved in the inspection business, it will be clear that you can always buy “one more tool.” Whether you purchase these tools depends on the level of your work volume and customer needs.
1. Fiber Optic Scope: Get one that is at least 18 inches long and capable of manipulating the illuminating tip into different directions. Focus on clarity of image too. Research before you buy as some of these devices can be quite expensive. (No endorsement of this brand should be inferred from the listing of this image, courtesy of Alan Huot).
Nevertheless the advantage of being able to make small hole in a wall and look behind it can be quite helpful when trying to determine the cause of that “scratching sound.”
2. Thermal imaging: Devices that can detect heat changes would have limited use in inspections for wildlife. There are just too many things that throw off heat in a home to make it useful. However, if the device comes with a video tape component, then it could be helpful as it would record only those heat sources that “move” meaning it would have to be an animal or insect.
3. Some NWCOs employ dogs. Obviously this could be an excellent tool but it would take a great deal of energy to properly train and care for this life-long companion.
4. Ultraviolet light: These can be very helpful in identifying urine stains. However, you must be sure to pick a light that has the appropriate wavelength and obtain enough experience to distinguish urine from chlorox. Many chemicals fluoresce so keep in mind the following tips. First, mice dribble their urine in small spots along their running line. It won’t form a splash. Second the brighter the blue the fresher the urine. Third, think location. Mice don’t tend to run in the middle of an open floor. They like to crawl along walls. You may find that special glasses help you visualize the stains. Lastly, practice with the tool in the field.
5. Finally, a digital camera isn’t necessary but is certainly useful. I recently purchased a Canon Powershop A85. I have been extremely happy with it. But whatever camera you choose, here is what I recommend for options.
- Size- pick one small enough to ensure that you will actually carry it.
- Lens cover- pick one that has its own built in cover so that you won’t lose it while crawling around in various places.
- Megapixels- 3 to 4 megapixels is more than enough to create print quality 3×5 pictures. If you know for a fact that you will never, ever need to publish your photos in print format than fewer megapixels are needed.
- Powerpack- pick a camera that has removable batteries, not a built in battery. Ideally batteries that you can buy at a local store if you run out.
- Zoom- be sure to distinguish between optical zoom and digital zoom. Optical zoom means the lenses are constructed to provide a closer image. Digital zoom means that the camera uses an algorithm to make the image appear closer. Optical zoom is ALWAYS better than digital zoom.
- Macro-lens capability- choose a camera that allows you to capture close-up images within just a few inches of the subject.
Certainly there are more items that could be chosen to include in your inspection “kit.” However, that is enough for now.
©2005 Stephen M. Vantassel