View Full Version : Tools for the crawl

Vince Santos
05-12-2007, 02:48 PM
I know you guys have some way of inspecting crawls and taking tools with you. Crawling around trying to hold a flashlight, moisture meter, voltage detector, TIFF, camera and PDA is kind of hard to do. Wearing my tool belt means everything spills out of it and gets kicked around and lost.

I was thinking about a backpack so I could just keep it zipped up until I need something out of it. What does everyone else do?

Jim Robinson
05-12-2007, 04:20 PM
I use one of my kids old lunch boxes. It usually gets a good laugh from the client, since it's a Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers model, circa 1990. It works great for holding the couple of items I may need in the crawl, and I can just put in the dishwasher when it gets dirty. I actually just started doing this, and it makes things much easier than my old method.

Bruce King
05-12-2007, 04:50 PM
I made this, works very well:
I just push it along in front of me.

Forum Archives - The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (http://www.nachi.org/bbsystem/viewtopic.php?t=16926)

Bob Stark
05-12-2007, 05:02 PM
What was the old method? (I have always enjoyed getting clients to chuckle - in one way or another.)

wayne soper
05-12-2007, 05:44 PM
I take in a portable spot light which is good for leaning on as well as seeing far away clearly. A camera on a nylon loop around my neck and inside my paper suit but easily pulled out for pics and NEVER DROPPED. And my trusty Golf club iron with the head removed and a masonry bit glued in the end. The perfect hand rest and prod for testing Termite damage, Decay and knocking spider webs away in front of you.

wayne soper
05-12-2007, 05:46 PM
Hey Bruce, wasn't your wife pissed when she found the kitchen drawer missing?

John Arnold
05-12-2007, 06:18 PM
Flashlight, long screwdriver, voltage sniffer, camera. Optional: 44 Magnum.

Rick Hurst
05-12-2007, 07:39 PM
I wear the disposable Tyvek overalls, carry a Streamlight, camera, cellphone / walkie-talkie, chalk and a awl.

I take no notes at all, use my camera only and my memory.

wayne soper
05-13-2007, 03:36 AM
Hey Rick, What is the chalk for.?

Jerry Peck
05-13-2007, 06:31 AM
And, for some of those wet crawlspaces A Folding Foldable Portable Fishing Boat And Dinghy By Porta-Bote Portabote Porta-Boat Portaboat Foldboat * Portabot (http://www.porta-bote.com/)

Rick Hurst
05-13-2007, 08:31 AM

I marked areas of damaged wood with "X" or areas of leaks. I write on notes on the wooden joists of where termite activity found. Then I take a picture and place it on my report. It assures the client also that I actually crawled under the home.

Another quirk I do is I alway write the date and my name, company name on a floor joist near the crawlspace entry and in the furtherest corners of the crawl so I have a reference if there is ever question how far I went.

If I can't go past a point in the crawl, I note it also.

I've went back on some homes that I inspected numerous years ago, and have still found my chalk writing still there. Kind of like the Egyptians I guess. :)

Vince Santos
05-13-2007, 08:39 AM
I wear the disposable Tyvek overalls, carry a Streamlight, camera, cellphone / walkie-talkie, chalk and a awl.

I take no notes at all, use my camera only and my memory.

So you just carry all that around in your hands?

Great idea with the chalk btw.

Richard Rushing
05-13-2007, 09:24 AM
I use a fannie-pack let out as far as it will go and strap it around my neck and shoulder.

I carry a camera, one-million candle power light, drop a glow stick at the entry, a small streamlight in the fanny pak, wear a head-torch, wear a respirator, knee-pads, wear shin-guards (soccer type) on my forearms and crawl may ass off with blunt end of a 9-iron in hand.

No notes taken... all pictures.


Tim Moreira
05-13-2007, 10:14 AM

Just out of curiosity,

"drop a glow stick at the entry"

Why do you waste a glow stick on every crawl? Isn't the light at the open access enough?

I like the shin guards on the forearms. That's a great tip as is the chalk.


Vince Santos
05-13-2007, 11:23 AM
I use a fannie-pack let out as far as it will go and strap it around my neck and shoulder.

...wear a head-torch...

No notes taken... all pictures.


That's what I need! Where did you get the head torch and does it light up enough?

I take photos only in the crawl and attic of every defect so I don't have to take the time for notes too.

Richard Rushing
05-13-2007, 11:39 AM
Got the head-torch at HD-- you can go cheap or you can go the right way. About $50.00 bucks will get you a really kick-ass LED lamp that lights up VERY well... good snake and spiker locator!!

9-iron end is a multi-purpose tool that knocks down spider webbs, runs off bitch-dogs that have litters of pups and are madder than hell to see you, it can i.d. wood damage.


Vince Santos
05-13-2007, 12:14 PM
Got the head-torch at HD-- you can go cheap or you can go the right way. About $50.00 bucks will get you a really kick-ass LED lamp that lights up VERY well... good snake and spiker locator!!

9-iron end is a multi-purpose tool that knocks down spider webbs, runs off bitch-dogs that have litters of pups and are madder than hell to see you, it can i.d. wood damage.


mucho gracious!

I was at HD yesterday and did not see anything like that in the flashlight section. Perhaps I will find something online.
I had to purchase another, my third in two years, light for crawls and attics. I don't know what it is but those spot lights just don't last me very long. The last one was used twice and stopped working on me.

I need to pick up an old golf club and make one of those pokers you use. I think that's a great idea.

Thanks for all the advice.

Richard Rushing
05-13-2007, 03:59 PM
Dude... the glow stick is both psychological and, at times, a necessity.

As Vince stated, the spot lights are unreliable and sometimes (without warning) let you know that they have used their last charge, while you are waaaayyy at the back of the crawl. Well, if that's the case and you have somehow forgot to charge the batteries on the streamlight... having that glow stick is a beacon in the dark and in my mind, certainly worth the .99 cents spent. Probably 90% of all my inspections are slab. So, the 30 (or so) glow sticks I buy a year are really nothing to speak of.

As far as the light shining down into the crawl from above, I have had times when I crawled right by the opening and wasn't aware of it.


Tim Moreira
05-13-2007, 10:16 PM

Thom Walker
05-14-2007, 12:23 AM
For your lighting needs, including head lights, try Academy Sporting goods if you have them in your area. Great selection, reasonable pricing.

A former broom handle with a finisih nail driven in is my choice of weapon under the house. However, when the snake, the raccon, opposum, or sewage leak is encountered, I'm out of there.

I cut the hood of a rain suit and use it. It's hot, but I feel more protected. Shoes with velcro straps, no laces. I drag the fanny pack.

I do all the plumbing stuff first and note the locations of the A/C and water heater before going under.

I think I'm nearing the end of my "dig a hole for access" days. When I actually get there, I won't do crawls anymore. That is, if my girth doesn't stop me first.:)

Richard Rushing
05-14-2007, 05:49 AM
quote from Thom: "I do all the plumbing stuff first and note the locations of the A/C and water heater before going under."

When doing the crawl... I have water running at every faucet/ fixture in the home. I have to the the plumbing at the same time as the crawl in order to determine if it's not leaking under the home. Actually, I will have let the water run for atleast 10-15 minutes before going under the home to maker sure everything is draining ok.-- then head under.


Thom Walker
05-14-2007, 01:26 PM
You mean it won't leak unless you're looking at the same time it was running? :D

If the plumbing has been correctly checked, running the showers against the walls and door or tub seal, filling and draining the tub as you're going under, filling and draining all lavatories, flushing toilets multiple times, checking cut offs, running the dishwasher, having the A/C running from the first minute you enter, making sure that the water tastes okay from that little fountain next to the toilet; if you've done that and a leak is present, residual evidence of a leak will be present.

Why do they make that fountain so short? It really hurts my back. And why do they have hot water there? Nobody's gross enough to wash there dishes in the bathroom.

Seriously, I learned that I didn't want to do it your way anymore when a lavatory drain that had drained just fine when I was topside decided to back up when I was in the crawl. I didn't discover it until I came back topside about 40 minutes later. Carpet can hold a lot of water!

But, as with so many topics on the site we can just agree that you're a stupid poohpooh head and my way's better. Let's be friends.

Jim Luttrall
05-14-2007, 01:48 PM
I started using a baseball cap with a couple of lights built in the visor.
I found this little item in Lowe's and have come to reach for it any time I go into a large attic or crawl.
It keeps the cobwebs and crap out of my hair and provides enough light to see how to get back out when the Stream Light dies at the worst possible location.
The light is not enough to inspect by, but is great when everything is pitch black and I want out!
I wish I could talk myself into going back to a fixed focus camera, the dirt in crawls are murder on retractable lens mechanisms.
I have started keeping a can of air in the truck to try and blow the dust off, someone suggested putting the camera in a ziplock bag before going into a crawl, but I have not tried that yet.
Has anyone come up with a better trick to keep your camera grit / dirt free in a crawl?

Richard Rushing
05-14-2007, 02:08 PM
I do put my camera in a zip-lok bag. It goes inside the fannie-bag.

I've never had one (plumbing fixture) back up on me yet... but I do spend alot of time uptop checking and re-checking the drainage of all fixtures before going down on her (the crawl).;)

Pooh Pooh head

Rick Hurst
05-14-2007, 02:58 PM

The camera of mine goes in a Crown Royal bag. Keeps the dirt off fine.

I think. :)

Thom Walker
05-14-2007, 03:11 PM
I understand the camera issue. I've resigned to buying one every other year. The new digitals are great for quality, but they sure don't do abuse very well. When it's a particularly dry crawl and a lot of dust, I use the back up old Sony Mavica. Otherwise, I keep the new Kodak out and on and in my hand. It doesnt get turned off until I'm at the truck and the canned air has been used. I've finally learned to keep the protective film on the LCD screen and to replace it when it gets ratty. I haven't come up with a way to protect the lens from scratches, but they are usually not noticeable until the camera is ready for replacement.

I would not recommend the Kodak. It has a chip in it that tells the camera when you are in an attic or crawl, so that the battery can die when it's most inconvenient. :(

Lou Collier
05-14-2007, 05:11 PM
Most houses here are built on crawl spaces, so I have been through a lot of cameras. I have always just carried the camera in my hand as I crawled. Most cameras would not last even 6 months, with dirt getting in the retracting lens mechanism. The repair or replacement was always covered by the warranty, but it just became a hassle.

I solved the problem by getting a Pentax Optio 33WR. It is a water resistant (and dust resistant) camera. It has a 3x optical zoom, but the lens does this behind a glass cover--no lens to project out of the camera. It also has rounded edges with rubber bumpers. I have dropped this camera while standing on the peak of a roof. I watched as it rolled down the roof and over the edge. It survived just fine with barely a scratch. Other cameras I have used (Olympus and Canon) would have been broken beyond repair.

It does not have the best shape to hold, but I have gotten used to it and it is very easy to operate with one hand. It takes great pictures--people are always asking what type of camera I use after they see the pictures I have taken.

Pentax no longer makes this camera, but they probably make something similar (I know they now make a completely waterproof camera). I am sure that other manufacturers also make cameras with an optical zoom that do not have retracting lenses.

Last I checked, there is a Pentax Optio 33WR available on Ebay for $150 ($165 shipped), brand new and unused.

Louie Hoehn
05-19-2007, 08:09 AM
I saw this item at the NAHI convention in Las Vegas, its a bit pricey but it works very well, its called the krawler here is the link Krawl Gear (http://www.krawlgear.com/store/catalog/index.php?osCsid=b039684667717a6644a57d2d1593c0c8)

I bought their Black Diamond Knee Pads, they are very comfortable, easy to put on and they stay put as well

Mike Schulz
05-20-2007, 03:50 PM
I use a Mexican, they are light weight and can carry multiple things. They are great for clearing out all the Cob webs and are relativity cheap.....:)

Ohhhhhhhh Lighten up I'm just kidding.:D

I have a neck strap on my camera and keep it inside my coveralls. My coveralls are from the Air Force which have more zipper pockets to keep things in then your wifes hand bag.

Michael Thomas
05-20-2007, 04:04 PM
Another vote for the Pentax Optio 33WR.:

I expect they are only gonna' get cheaper on eBay.... and they take standard AAs.

Bob Stark
05-20-2007, 04:11 PM
I use 4......... one of them has to drive the truck, and the other has to keep my coffee cup filled......... and they ARE cheap.

Dave Mortensen
05-21-2007, 11:24 AM
I use a smaller carpenter's tool bag with an oversized padded belt which holds the basic's, then I have attached to the belt the streamlight loop, and a padded camera bag for the digital. I have another bag which usually stays in the truck, with the gas detector, extra batteries, and anything else I don't use on a daily basis. With this setup I can safely put away the camera if I am crawling under something really low, or need two hands (which comes in handy in the attic crawling around on trusses).
The smaller carpenter bag still squeezes through scuttles and everything I need is always with me, whether I am in the house or under it. Haven't lost anything yet, but I am choosy when it comes to what tools I buy and how they will fit securely in this setup. I also carry an extra smaller streamlight for clients, or me when the larger one decides to grow dim in a crawl or attic.

Scott Patterson
05-21-2007, 11:51 AM
I put my stuff in a fanny pack. I either sling it over my shoulder and neck and let it ride on my back. If I need to roll over or I just slide it around to my front.

Dave Hill
05-21-2007, 01:53 PM
Not just for crawls, but attics too.... A bump cap! I love this thing. It's like a baseball hat with a hard shell. Not balky like a construction hard hat, but still protects from the "air nails" in the attic, and pipes in the crawl. Search on line for them. I had a headlight given to me for X-mas - these are a must!
I still take the streamlight, but love having a light shined where ever I turn my head.

Jonathan Cartwright
07-19-2007, 10:10 AM
No problem. No probe. No flashlight. No camera. No notes. This way the crawlspace is too dark to see and therefore my report is a lot shorter.

"looked OK to me"

Just kidding!

John Goad
07-19-2007, 07:22 PM
You can put a lot of stuff in a flight suit & on the outside a photographer vest.

rob martinez
07-20-2007, 01:34 PM
Here's the crawl tools nothing more nothing less! K.I.S.S. Keep it simple sam! Oh, coveralls and pads too!

Camera with padded TEK bag~Walgreens special
Streamlight Stinger HP Flashlight~ never dies always ready
Long screw driver poker~ good Napa poker/ rat mover!
Volt Power Check~ I like to know whats live & what's not

Load it up and drag it! It's worked great for me for 5 years.

Brian Cooper
04-19-2008, 11:13 AM
I put the camera in one chest pocket on my coveralls, and my moisture meter in the other. I carry the Mag Light, but I'm thinking about upgrading to a Streamlight. I don't carry a volt meter anymore into crawls. I just assume every bare wire is live and should be in a junction box.

I like the shin pad idea. I'll be stealing that one. I'll also be looking for a golf club to butcher.

I have found that cameras are all disposable. I buy the $85 special from Wal-Mart and use it untill it dies. That usually is about a year, maybe 18 months. My current one is in rough shape, mostly because it fell off a two story roof last week. It still works fine, but it looks like hell.

I'm planning on replacing this one. I'll be watching Woot : One Day, One Deal (SM) (http://www.woot.com) for the next cheap and decent camera.

I tried carrying some sort of bag into crawl spaces, but it became more of a hassle than it's worth. If it won't fit into the two chest pockets on my coveralls, I don't take it under.

I also use glow-in-the-dark paint or tape on everything I take under. It does not glow very long, but it lasts long enough if the flashlight dies...:eek: