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Infrared Camera

Thermal (Infrared) Imaging Home Inspection

As new technologies are developed, they become available in areas of use far from what they were originally developed for.  Thermal Imaging, also known as infrared imaging, is one such technology.  Originally developed during the Vietnam War to find enemy soldiers at night, it progressed to medical imaging, industrial testing and, finally, to the construction trades and building consultation.  Home inspections are a visual inspection, we can only report on what they can see.  Thermal imaging gives a professional home inspector the ability to see beyond the normally visible

Here we see another example of water intrusion, this time from badly installed siding and flashing on the house's exterior, but seen from the inside of the house using thermal imaging during a home inspection.  Water intrusion is not always easy to diagnose, especially because a home inspection is supposed to be non-invasive.  Because water travels in so may ways (dripping, wicking, running, evaporation, condensation, etc) it is not easy to find the source.
Water intrusion is a common problem, and the source cannot, usually, be found without thermal imaging and an experienced, professional inspector.

 - Water intrusion through the houses exterior covering, whether the house has brick, stone, stucco or siding.

 - Improperly installed or settled insulation.

 - Water leaks around windows and doors.

 - Plumbing leaks inside the house, including leaking pipes, improperly seated toilets, leaky shower pans and bathtubs and water pipe condensation.

 - Improperly insulated HVAC ducting that have not been properly sealed or that cause condensation dripping in attics and crawlspaces.

 - Improperly installed or insufficient insulation in ceilings and walls.

 - Leaking roofs, skylights, roof vent piping and roof vents.

This is an interesting picture, even pretty.  It shows the operation of a 2004 Carrier category 4 high efficiency furnace draft blower.  Note the exhaust air vent on the lower right and the heated blower area.  Thermography is also used to check on the operation of industrial machinery, to determine if there are worn out motors, gears or bearings and even, using analysis software, calculate the operation efficiency of the furnace.  This type of preventative maintenance inspection is used to predict equipment failure and avoid the problem of down time while the equipment is being repaired.

High efficiency furnaces should have both combustion intake air and combustion exhaust vents in order to achieve their designed energy efficiency.  Most inexperienced builders (all too common for new construction) do not know this and you may be using more energy than you need to, and paying for it.  This condition is usually easily and inexpensively repairable.

Your house may be insulated, but that does not mean it is properly insulated.  Many times, the insulation contractors are not professional and don't know how to properly install the insulation.

Thermal imaging can not only find areas of improper insulation but also water and moisture intrusion areas as well as places where cold air is blowing through the insulation and through electrical receptacle boxes.

The image shows wet and settling blown-in cellulose insulation.  This commonly happens with this type of insulation after a few years.

Thermal imaging can also be used to detect uninvited guests living in your house.  This picture shows two rats that had taken up residence in the crawlspace of the house.  Raccoons and squirrels in attics, as well as termites and carpenter ants in the house's beams and walls can also be detected.

Termite infestations generally appear as "hot" areas because of all the body heat that termites produce.  Carpenter ants, unlike termites, do not actually eat the wood, but burrow in older, soft wood to make their nests.

These images show radiant heating pipes in the ceiling of a house heated by a hot water boiler.  Water is heated and circulated through copper piping and the heat radiates downward.  The piping can be installed in the floors of the whole house, in bathrooms and in basements.

A home inspection that includes thermal imaging is can find leaks in this piping and find the problem while is is still small and easily repaired

This image shows an electrical panel.  The breaker in the lower right was rated for 15 amps, but the circuit was serving a newly installed furnace blower motor that was rated for 20 amps of load.  Undetected, this problem could have caused serious damage.  A good home inspector would probably have found this problem, but thermal imaging can find it quicker

Thermal Imaging can detect loose electrical connection in the house's electrical system, bad switches and outlets and overheated wiring.  Electrical defects are a common cause of house fires and are often the result of older wiring deteriorating or new electrical work that was not done properly.

Thermal imaging can give the homeowner assurance that the house's electrical system is safe, not overloaded and has been properly maintained.