Inspections for evidence of termites, past or present require proper training and proper tools. One of the most important tools is the probing tool. For real estate transactions, the termite inspection is a visual inspection only but most state requirements also include probing and sounding of wood to determine if there is a possibility in unseen areas.
As termites do not come into the open as they consume wood, it is important to not only perform a visual inspection but to also probe and sound the wood for signs of possible infestation. The trained inspector can feel the texture of the wood and hear the sounds to determine if there is any concern within the area.
Probing is done with a formidable tool to create momentum. Some inspectors prefer to use long screwdrivers and the end is pushed into the wood. If the tip penetrates the wood, the inspector will closely look to see if there are signs of decay or termites. Short screwdrivers are not as valuable in that they cannot get to difficult to reach places and cannot easily probe above. Some people use short tools such as pocket knives to further examine areas which are probed. There are special probing and sounding tools designed specifically for termite inspections. These are rolled or stainless steel shafts which are bent at an angle to allow overhead probing. The butt or handle of the tool can be used as a sounding tool. Sounding is tapping on wood to hear if it is solid. Wood that has been damaged often has a “punky” sound or hollow sound.
Probing and sounding are important parts of any termite inspection, especially if the inspection is for real estate transactions. Using the right tool for the right job is vital.