Tools & Safety

Foobot Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) monitors are our personal favorite. They measure and record readings for temperature, humidity, dust (PM2.5) and chemical pollutants (VOCs). These are very useful for understanding if there is a problem to solve in your home, and also if it gets solved. See our complete review of 7 IAQ monitors.

Sense Home Energy Monitor. I’ve tested several energy monitors including Curb and eGauge 3000. This is by far my favorite. Very fast hookup, 15-30 minutes. The best app I’ve seen. Watch hourly/daily/weekly/monthly usage and watch moment to moment usage. Great for finding energy hogs and figuring out how much power various appliances use. The appliance recognition is pretty good, but sometimes spotty. It confuses my coffee maker and my dishwasher, for instance. That said, if you’re on the market for an energy monitor, this is the one to get. 

Flir One infrared camera for iPhone (Gen 3). Click through for Android version. I use a first generation one and love it. Does 80% of what a $3000 IR camera does for less than 10% the price. Not super useful unless you have a blower door or a powerful range hood to depressurize your house and find leaks. I just bought the pro version of this

Very inexpensive temperature and humidity gauge. Buy a few of these and put them around the house. Start noting the swings. They tell you the high and low in the last 24 hours, and they’re very inexpensive. Watch for humidity over 60%, it should never get above that. They’re not crazy accurate, +/- 5% or so. If it’s in the budget, get a datalogger like a Foobot.

A Wizard Stick is a simple smoker. This is what I use for testing for air leaks (besides my hand and an infrared camera.) If you have a powerful range hood, it could act like a blower door and you can use this to find leaks.

NetAtMo is my second favorite IAQ monitor. This weather station also monitors indoor carbon dioxide (CO2). It has an outdoor module as well for temp and humidity. Very nice app and webapp. Somewhat finicky sensors, CO2 can go out of whack, it doesn’t like dusty environments.

Infrared thermometer. If a Flir One doesn’t fit your budget, consider one of these. It only takes one point of temperature vs. thousands or millions for IR cameras, but it’s a start. Good for reading surface temps and feverish kids, too. Big boxes carry similar items.

BOSTITCH H30-8 Hammer Tacker Manual Stapler. If you are going to install your own ventilation baffles or an air barrier on a knee wall, do yourself a favor and buy one of these. Using hand staplers stinks for those jobs.  Be sure to buy the right staples! I’ve used a number of brands of hammer tackers. Most of them have the weight in the handle, which makes the staples hard to put in. This one has the weight in the head, making it almost effortless to put staples in. They last a long time. Easy to clear jams, they open up like an office stapler. 


B&C Eagle STCR5019-38 3/8-Inch Length x 7/16-Inch Power Crown x 18 Gauge Galvanized Fine Wire Hammer Tacker Staples (5,000 per box). These staples go with the Bostitch H30-8 hammer tacker. Do NOT use regular staples with it, it will jam. These will make putting up ventilation baffles or an air barrier on knee walls (perforated reflective insulation, house wrap, or the like) very easy. Be sure to watch for wires, or you’ll short them. (Ask me how I know this…)

Covalence Plastics 6ML BLK 12X100 12-by-100-Foot 6-Millimeter Black Tyco Polyethylene Plastic Sheeting. If you have a crawlspace to encapsulate, you want to put a vapor barrier down first. I’ve heard that black plastic lasts longer. Use 6 mil (6 millimeter thick) or thicker material. Amazon doesn’t sell thicker stuff that I could find. 

Tyvek suit. A good clothes-saver. Wear when spraying foam or in nasty attics/crawlspaces. 

Dylos 1100 Pro Particle Counter. This is the only one that measures below 2.5 microns. The “small” range is only available on the pro model. It is 0.5-2.5 microns. No wifi connection, only downloadable onto a PC. A battery powered version is also available. See my complete review on IAQ monitors.