A Guide to the Inspection Mirror
Inspection mirrors come in all shapes in sizes. In this article, you will learn:
- What inspections are
- How to choose the right inspection mirror
- Telescoping, Hand Held, Mini, and Truck Inspection Mirrors
An inspection mirror is a handheld device comprised of a long tubular shaped handle with a mirror attached to the base pointing. The mirror points upward allowing for the inspection of objects or areas underneath or overhead which may not be possible by a normal visual inspection. The handle is usually telescoping to provide the user with the ability to adjust the length of the handle from a few inches to several feet.
Inspection mirrors range in size from very small units to inspect small confined areas to large units which can be used for the inspection of bigger objects such as vehicles, machinery, cargo, etc. From a safety mirror and security mirror aspect, there are basically two different types of inspection mirrors; A vehicle inspection mirror (sometimes referred to as an underneath inspection mirror) and an overhead inspection mirror (sometimes referred to as truck inspection mirror).
Vehicle inspection mirrors or underneath inspection mirrors are handheld and lightweight to allow the operator to view underneath objects. The best inspection mirror models have a sturdy handle that is typically made from aircraft aluminum, telescoping to at least 3 & ½ feet or more, a rubber or foam grip for maximum comfort and control, a round shatterproof acrylic lens no less than 12” with a protective extruded rubber for damage prevention, and the ability to add heavy duty caster ball bearing wheels for effortless maneuverability and a flashlight for use in low light conditions. The telescoping handle should lock into place. Models should break down easily for transporting and storage.
This variety of inspection mirror will provide years of service. Be suspicious of lesser models which have flimsy handles typically constructed of poor grade aluminum, plastic or wood that are not telescoping. The mirrors are small or rectangular in form. The lens material is made of glass or poor grade acrylic and do not have a thick, protective rubber trim. If the vehicle inspection mirror is available with wheels they are most often of the plastic variety very similar to inexpensive office chairs that will not stand the test of time.
Truck inspection mirrors and overhead inspection mirrors are handheld inspection mirrors that allow an individual to inspect out of reach objects such as cargo containers, tractor trailers, planes, rail cars, boats, ships, gutters, roofs, trees, buildings, etc. The best overhead inspection mirror models are constructed of anodized aluminum at least 1” thick with long telescoping handles that extend out to at least 12’. There will be several grips along the handle to allow for control over the unit when extended out to its maximum length. The mirror lens will be at least 12” in diameter and the lens material should be shatterproof acrylic with a heavy duty rubber trim.
The overhead inspection mirror pole should slide in and out effortlessly and lock into place with a self adjusting lock mechanism. Once locked into place, the pole should be secure without the ability to move about on its own as characteristic in lesser quality overhead inspection mirrors. Cheaply made overhead inspection mirrors will have a pole less than 1” in diameter and made of thin aluminum. When the pole is extended out to full length they will often bend, warp or break under stress. The lenses on poor quality overhead inspection mirrors are often made with low grade acrylic that will yellow when used outdoors and subjected to UV rays.
Ask the origin of the inspection mirror. If it’s made in the USA chances are it is a quality product. If the product is manufactured in China or Canada, the quality is suspect. Price is not always an indicator of quality. There are many poorly made imported inspection mirrors on the market that sell three to six times the price of a quality USA made inspection mirror.