Thermal Imaging Inspections
What is thermal imaging?
A thermal imaging camera uses infrared technology to see small differences in the temperature of an object. It is used primarily in home inspections to help identify hidden moisture intrusion, and air leaks within the building envelope. When things are wet, they are usually colder than their surroundings, which shows up as a different color on the camera. Sometimes these differences are only a few degrees, but the damage cannot be seen with the naked eye.
Thermal image scanning technology has been used to evaluate residential and commercial structures for years. It’s a non-invasive testing tool that can quickly help discern where there are suspected problems. This can help limit the areas where time consuming further evaluation is needed.
Fact vs Fiction
To clear any confusion and/or false information about what thermal imaging is, and how it is used during a home inspection, please take a moment to read below:
- X-Ray Vision
Thermal imaging is not X-ray vision. Thermal imagery only measures surface temperatures and is a link in a chain of tools to help identify issues
- Moisture Meter/Detector
- Thermal Imaging cameras do not see moisture, they see temperature. While it is true that most of the time, when something is wet, it is colder than its surroundings, it is also possible for moisture to be trapped in a wall and not show a thermal difference on the surface of said wall. Remember, it is not X-ray vision. It cannot see deep into a surface. It only measures surface temperature.
Samples of thermal imaging
Below are a few examples of thermal imaging shots taken during a home inspection.
This window was leaking at the corner. You can see the cold spot; which turned out to be wet.
This decorative beam was never air sealed from the attic. Massive amounts of hot air were pouring in around the seams.
The builder forgot to insulate the fireplace insert. The cold air coming in around the unit was incredible.
Take a look to see how thermal imaging can help in a home inspection
Moisture Intrusion – Thermal imaging does a great job at finding hidden moisture. Windows and doors are notorious for leaking when not properly installed. Things like chimney flashing, and roof penetrations are also problem areas. Most of the time these issues will go unnoticed without thermal imaging.
Missing Insulation –All of the buildings envelope leaks glow through the view finder of the camera. As long as there is a moderate temperature difference between inside and outside, you can see those air leaks.
Plumbing Leaks –We run a lot of water during our inspections. Water lines can leak and drip down onto the drywall ceiling below, and depending on how much water is leaking, it can take a long time for stains to show up. The thermal camera can pick up on this leak long before it reveals itself.
Electrical Hot-spots – Heat is a byproduct of electricity. When we use an electrical outlet, it gets warm, the breaker in the panel also gets warm as electricity flows through it. With the use of thermal imaging, you can see this heat. Excessive temperatures could mean loose connections or faulty breakers. Both of these can cause serious problems like a fire or someone getting electrocuted.
What does it cost to have a thermal imaging scan performed?
Zero! We do not charge extra to use our thermal camera during any home inspection. It is just one of many tools in our arsenal to provide you assurance about your new home.