Why Perform Infrared Home Inspections?
Infrared imaging provides important information relating to otherwise inaccessible areas of a residential or commercial building. The infrared camera detects extremely small but crucial differences in surface temperature from one area of a house to another. These temperature variations show up on the camera’s view screen as “cold” or “hot” spots, which reveal hidden problems that often cannot be detected in the course of a traditional visual inspection.
These problems may include:
Faulty wiring, breakers and fuses
Hidden moisture intrusion
The moisture sources of mold
Pipe and duct work leaks
Roof and ceiling leaks
Moisture associated with termite nests
Rats, mice and other pests
Combined with traditional home inspection techniques, the infrared inspection method reveals substantially more of the house than can be perceived by the naked eye and conventional inspection tools. Many things can’t be seen with only a flashlight.
Examples of infrared inspection applications:
Water intrusion: scanning interior surfaces of a building with an infrared camera can reveal excess moisture due to plumbing leaks, roof leaks, leaks around windows, etc. Wet areas of building materials cool when energy is transferred during the water evaporation process; therefore, a wet (“cooler”) area will stand out from the surrounding dry (“warmer”) surface.
Insulation deficiencies: appreciable temperature differences, due to variations in thermal energy (heat) transfer, allow for detection of deficient or missing insulation when scanning ceiling and wall surfaces. Infrared is especially effective on older homes with minimal insulation that has become compressed in areas.
Roofing leaks: scanning roof coverings can reveal water intrusion and accumulated moisture below the surface. Due to its thermal properties (high thermal capacity), water typically gives up heat at a much slower rate than the surrounding roof materials. The areas of accumulated moisture can therefore be detected when scanning the roof surface. This type of roof inspection is best done in the evening or early nighttime after thermal energy imparted during the daytime is transferred or released.
Electrical systems: deficiencies within the electrical system can be made visually apparent by use of an infrared camera. For example, a deficient connection between electrical components can result in resistance which will manifest in an apparent temperature elevation when compared with similar types of connections under similar load conditions. An infrared image of the electrical panel can reveal overheating of a circuit breaker.
Structural issues: differences in thermal capacity, conductivity, and other intrinsic qualities of building structural components can allow for their detection when scanning walls, floors, and ceilings with an infrared camera. Under the right temperature differential conditions, missing structural components, and portions of structural components which are damaged (to the extent that their intrinsic qualities are significantly changed), can be detected.
NOTE: Although infrared thermal imaging is a far better diagnostic tool than the naked eye, it does not guarantee 100% accuracy, unless removal or destruction of components can be achieved to validate findings. When possible, other tools are used to verify thermal images. Thermal imaging combined with my traditional home inspection services improves the quality of the information you will have at your disposal to make that all important decision regarding the property. But, even with these considerations I do not claim to have x-ray vision. The infrared camera can not see through walls as it is measuring surface temperatures. Conditions can change and may cause the apparent temperatures revealed on thermal images to be different at any given time.