Home Inspection Using Thermography

What is Thermal Image Scanning?

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What Thermal Image Scanning is NOT?

Moisture Equals Mold

How can this technology be be useful?

  • Moisture Detection in Walls, Ceilings, & Floors
  • Wood Destroying Insect Activity
  • Energy Audit Inspections
  • Flat Roof Leak Inspections
  • Electrical System Inspections
  • Plumbing System Inspections

What is Thermal Image Scanning?
Thermal imaging uses infrared technology to detect very small differences in temperature. Every material has a unique thermal signature and when moisture, heat, cold, or wood destroying insects are introduced into the structure the thermal signature changes. The changes can be subtle or dramatic but with this incredible thermal image scanning technology the thermal signatures are detectable where they wouldn’t be able to be seen with the naked eye.
Thermal image scanning technology is now being used to evaluate residential and commercial structures. As a non-invasive testing tool it can quickly help discern where there are suspected issues. This can help to limit the areas where time consuming further evaluation and destructive discovery is needed.

What Thermal Image Scanning is NOT?  

MOISTURE METER – The infrared thermal imaging camera is NOT a moisture meter. It simply identifies thermal anomalies. This device greatly aids in identifying areas that need further investigation.
X-RAY VISION – The infrared thermal imaging camera is NOT an X-ray vision scope. It does not provide the user with an immediate ability to clearly see inside or thru walls. Instead, it identifies thermal differences between the wall itself and what’s behind it.
SILVER BULLET - The infrared thermal imaging camera is NOT a silver bullet solution, but when it is used in conjunction with other technologies, thermal imaging has helped us to identify issues that are rarely identified during the visual home inspection process.
RISK ELIMINATOR – The infrared thermal imaging camera does NOT completely remove the risks of concealed damage.
PLEASE NOTE: It is deceptive to claim that thermal imaging detects moisture because the best it can do is detect thermal differences. Using the infrared camera to help discover moisture issues, is helpful because once the anomalies are identified then moisture meters and other diagnostic tools can be used to identify the source of the anomaly.

Moisture equals mold!
Moisture equals mold. Whenever a leak and moist conditions exists longer than 72 hours, then mold can form. This fact is a reality and the infrared camera can quickly, and in a non-invasive manner, help identify these issues. But remember, the infrared camera identifies the heat signatures and does not measure the moisture content.

 

How can this technology be useful?

  • Moisture Detection in Walls and Ceilings – As demonstrated above, thermal imaging is a great tool that helps to identifying water damage in walls, floors, and ceilings. By detecting the difference in temperature between a wet area and the surrounding dry areas thermal imaging can help detect moisture issues that would not be visible during a limited visual home inspection. It is also great at identifying areas where the insulation contractor failed to insulate adequately.
  • Stucco & EIFS Inspections – Thermal image scanning has greatly improved our ability to perform stucco and EIFS moisture intrusion inspections. If there is rot behind the stucco it is often visible with thermal imaging in the form of heat anomalies. Thermal image scanning also helps to quantify the affected areas of moisture damage. By adding this tool to our stucco inspections we have been able to better identify where the trouble areas are that need repair.
  • Wood Destroying Insect Activity – Significant wood destroying insect activity can be detected using this technology due to the heat generated by active infestations. That’s right, active termite activity produces a great deal of heat that is often visible to the infrared camera. Minor activity may not be detectable but areas not normally visible to the naked eye can be identified, and then a more invasive or technically exhaustive inspection can be carried out by the appropriate professional.
  • Energy Audits – We do not currently specialize in performing energy audits, but thermal imaging has been a great tool to help homeowners save money, especially now that energy rates are on the rise. Heat loss and/or cold air influx can be detected and corrective actions can be taken to help improve the energy efficiency of residential and commercial structures.

Once the energy wasting areas are identified then changes can be made to make a dramatic difference in energy consumption which means less money out of pocket.

  • Flat Roof Inspections – If you have a leak on a new to mid-life flat roof and have been told that a new roof is needed, then call us first. We may be able to save you a substantial amount of money. Thermal imaging can be used to detect the precise location of the leak and mark the affected area so that repairs can be made to the leaking area. Obviously, if the roof is older then you should forego the thermal imaging and invest in the needed new roof.
  • Loose or dirty electrical connections and other electrical anomalies can cause power outages and possible fires. We can inspect the electrical panels and receptacles to detect issues before there is a costly outage. Thermal imaging can detect hot spots in the electrical system not visible to the naked eye which may be a precursor to a larger issue. The resulting report can be a great aid for the repair electrician hired to address the identified issues.
  • Plumbing Inspections – Water leaks from the plumbing system often leak undetected until major damage has occurred. We can scan in, under, and around plumbing fixtures in the home to determine if there is active leaking going on. Since this tool is not a moisture meter we will use it to find heat anomalies and then pursue the issue further to attempt to determine the source and cause of the leak.

Thermal image scanning can detect temperature anomalies in the plumbing system not visible to the naked eye which may be a precursor to a larger issue. The resulting Thermal Image Scan report can be a great aid for the repair plumber hired to address the identified issues.

Check out some photos from previous inspections and the included explanations.

Just hover the mouse over an image to pause the slideshow.

 

Lack of Insulation
This wall is used for projection movies. The blue lines on the left show wood studs behind the wall transfering the exterior cold from the block wall to the home interior. This is not necessarily bad, but there are better ways to frame this wall so as not to transfer cold.
Chest Freezer
Just a fun photo I took of a chest freezer showing the heating coils. Helps people to understand how "Thermal Imaging" works.
GFCI Outlet
GFCI outlets will always show a little bit of heat, even with nothing plugged into them. They are "Powered Up" devices and will always show a minute difference from the surrounding wall.
Lack of Insulation
Good Thermal Imaging Cameras will have different options for detecting hot & cold. In this case we were using a subtle blue option that helps to detect areas with little to no insulation, like this corner where the block wall meets a door frame.
Lack of Insulation
This shows the same as the previous photo just using a different color spectrum.
Lack of Insulation
There is an anomaly on the sill plate at the top of this wall. There is cool air blowing down from the ceiling. This is a clear indicator of cold air seepage from outside. Expandable foam would fix this right up.
Lack of Insulation
Showing more of the same at the sill plate.
Lack of Insulation
There is a void between the exterior wall and the interior of the home that is less than 2" thick. Many homes are like this and they need more insulation.
Lack of Insulation
This shows the exterior side of previous image except we are looking at heat escaping the home.
Updated Windows Needed
These windows are good double paned windows. However, they need to be updated to something more thermally efficient. Great windows in this case should show yellow. The exterior of the window would be the same temperature as the surrounding wall. In this case the windows are hemorrhaging heat.
Lack of Attic Insulation
This is a good indicator of a lack of attic insulation. In the winter, snow like this should not readily melt off the roof. This means there is heat in the attic and it's melting the snow covering. This would definately need to be checked further.
Updated Windows Needed
Just another photo showing inefficient windows.
Lack of Attic Insulation
The upper corner of this kitchen, shows a temperatur difference from surrounding areas that is indicative of a lack of attic insulation in the corner (blue). This would warrant further investigation.
Lack of Insulation
Another exterior wall showing that insulated walls would help keep this home heated more efficiently.
Lack of Insulation
The corners and edges are the worst for inadequate insulation. When companies install insulation in attics, its easy to forget the outer areas.
Inadequate Door Seal
This exterior door, while still haveing a closed storm door on the other side, still leaks enough cold air to raise the heating bill. All doors should be properly sealed to avoid cold drafts.
Lack of Insulation
Looking at the exterior side of a portion of the basement wall showing heat escaping via transference.
Door & Window Needs Updating
Both the door and window is leaking more interior warm air than we would like.
Dryer Vent Photo
The clothes dryer was running at the time. While it's obvious that the vent would be warm, notice the ground beneath the vent being warmed up as well.
Door With Inadequate Seal
This exterior door also has a storm door on the otherside, but we can still clearly see that a better seal around the door is needed to prevent drafts.
Lack of Insulation
Another corner showing inadequate insulation.
Lack of Insulation
Another corner & edge where the attic insulation didn't extend all the way to the edge.
Lack of Insulation
Blue area shows inadequate insulation in the attic at this area.
Lack of Insulation
This photo shows insulation, but it's only good where there is insulation. It become clear that if the insulation is not corner to corner we still get cold transference.
Lack of Insulation
Same as previous photo but using another color spectrum. The darker the blue the colder it is.
Lack of Insulation
This photo is similar to a earlier photo showing studs behind the wall, but using the blue color spectrum. The darker the blue, the colder the temperature.