This state of the art technology utilizes an infrared imaging camera that can "see" and "measure" the invisible heat energy that is emitted by the building components and can produce thermal images (called thermograms) that can identify and document a wide variety of problems that may not be visible to the naked eye during a home inspection. Water intrusion, moisture problems, heat loss, air infiltration, missing or damaged insulation and electrical overheating all produce different heat (temperature) signatures that can be identified in the thermal images.
Thermal Imaging Scans are the best way for your home inspector to find issues in the house that you are buying. Don’t buy a new or old house without your home inspector doing a Thermal imaging scan. Is your Home Inspector using Thermal Imaging on your home inspection if not then you need to call me !!!
How it works:
In the most basic of terms infrared is seeing the heat or temperature differences of the surface. You can see were someone has walked barefoot with a thermal imaging camera that is how sensitive thermal imaging cameras are. The infrared spectrum is not visible by our eyes however with an infrared camera; we can see the heat that objects give off or leave behind.
Can Infrared Thermal Imaging see through the walls like an X-ray?
No, however it can see moister and temperature differences in the wall like no insulation or hot or cold pipes that are touching the sheetrock or changing the temperature of the sheetrock and lots of times the studs are visible because of the temperature differences in the wood and sheetrock.
How is Infrared Thermal Imaging useful or important for your home inspector?
It allows the home inspector to see things that are not visible with eyes alone and scanning larger areas faster for a more complete home inspection on your new home.
Moisture Intrusion, Leaks, Condensation
Moisture will in most cases be colder making the wet spots show up as a darker color easily seen with the thermal camera. Through a thermal camera I have seen water penetration from a flowerbed draining to the house and leaking in around the baseboards wetting the carpet. We have also found cabinets that were wet from a small leak in the plumbing behind the cabinet unit in a new home inspection.
Overheating wires, switches, breakers and outlets stand out with the thermal camera as a lighter color. Often I find dimmer switches that are over loaded making them very warm and could be a fire hazard in some insatiateness.
With the right temperature differences from inside to outside an infrared camera can see isolation issues and be spotted very easily. I have seen sheetrock temperatures as hot as the attic temperature, these areas act like a heater in the house when you have the A/C on and an air conditioner in the winter reducing the efficiency of your house. These areas will not save you a ton of money but reducing every little area helps to reduce the total bill.
Improperly Connected HVAC Duct work
This is one of the most common things that I find in a home inspection and is relatively easy to fix and can be a big savings on your electric or gas bill all year around. Air blowing in the attic just makes the unit run longer to cool or heat your house.
Why is our inspection price not the lowest in the area?
At Stress-Free Home Inspection, LLC, I spend the time that it takes to inspect your house properly regardless of the time that it takes to do it. I am dedicated to giving you all the information that I can obtain on the house that you are buying so you can make the house the best it can be.
Why don’t all inspectors have thermal cameras?
The equipment is very expensive, difficult and time consuming to learn to think differently. Because they have not seen what Thermal Imaging can do on a Home Inspection! I would not do a Home Inspection without my Thermal Imaging camera!
Thermal Infrared Technology (Limited scan included with all inspections) With the right conditions thermal imaging allows the inspector to see water, missing insulation and energy loss just to name a few things not visible to the naked eye. If you hire a home inspector without this technology some latent (hidden) defects may go undiscovered and you just bought the problem. The thermal scan included with a home inspection is limited in scope and used at the Inspectors discretion. Many inspectors don't use this technology at all, and only a few include the service without additional fees. A complete thermal scan can be performed at additional expense.
Limitations of thermal imaging
Yes! Thermal energy can be reflected off of shiny surfaces such as polished metal and glass. Thermal imaging cameras cannot see through glass which is an immediate indicator of a low tech device claiming to offer “infrared imaging” to the end user. Some tablets and smart phone today tout IR technology yet are actually presenting a visual image that has been digitally manipulated to look like a thermogram. If you stand in front of a window while looking at a thermal imaging camera, you will see yourself in the window because of the thermal energy reflecting off the glass. Regardless of what Hollywood movies may show, thermal imaging cameras cannot see through walls. It is also important to know that thermal imaging cameras should not be used as the deciding factor that a problem exists. Using other instruments such as moisture meter, multimeter, or blueprint drawing of the building should always be used to confirm the problem. If your inspector is not using thermal imaging, you're not getting the best possible service.
My Infrared Camera Exposes Hidden Problems
Technically speaking, infrared inspection is called “thermography,” and is defined as “the detection and measurement of emitted thermal energy (heat).” In kitchen table English: an infrared camera sees heat instead of light, and interprets the temperature variations on the surfaces of what it sees.
This enables an infrared camera to do some amazing things, like find hidden moisture behind walls, ceilings, or roof materials. It can also “see” missing insulation in walls and ceilings, and find trouble hot-spots in an electric panel.
The image on a thermographer’s screen looks similar to an x-ray sometimes; and with a good temperature differential between the outside and inside of a home, it’s possible to see the studs framing the wall, and even nails and screws embedded in the wall. But the camera is not really looking through the materials, just reading surface temperatures.
And the technology has some limitations. Reflective surfaces, such as bathroom tile, are not readable. And, because the infrared camera is only capable of seeing current moisture, it will not find a roof leak when it hasn’t rained for a while and the area around the leak has dried up.