The Power of Infrared Thermal Imaging
Imagine being able to see inside the walls of a home you wanted to buy. While we don’t quite have x-ray vision yet, the inspector has the next-best thing: infrared vision, via a state-of-the-art thermal imaging camera. Being able to see the hot spots and the cool spots helps our inspectors identify conditions from possible moisture leaks to missing insulation.
The Menace Of Moisture
When water gets inside your walls, your ceilings, or your floors, the damage it can wreak is enormous. Besides warping wood, rusting steel, and rotting fabrics, moisture can open the doorway to health-destroying organic growth inside your walls. With our infrared camera, 360 Inspections, the inspector can quickly and accurately find the areas that may indicate the presence of moisture.
Below is a Thermal Image of water collecting in the ceiling of a home we’ve inspected. There were no other indications of a roof leak: (no water stains, or bubbled paint, or dripping water just a noticeable cool spot visible through the thermal imaging camera). An inspector without our technology would have missed this.
The Harm of Heat
On the other extreme, hot spots can mean the potential for explosive harm to your house. Moisture is some nasty stuff, but it doesn’t compare to the horror of watching an electrical short-circuit burn your newly-purchased home to the ground. Our infrared technology may reveal any unwanted buildups of heat and sometimes even display exactly what it is that’s causing the problem.
This is another picture taken with a thermal imaging camera. It can show you what your naked eye can’t see: the circuit breaker to the far left is over-heating and is a potential fire hazard.
According to the US Department of Energy, to prepare for an interior thermal scan, the homeowner should take steps to ensure an accurate result. This may include moving furniture away from exterior walls and removing drapes. The most accurate thermographic images usually occur when there is a large temperature difference (at least 20°F [14°C]) between inside and outside air temperatures. In northern states, thermographic scans are generally done in the winter. In southern states, however, scans are usually conducted during warm weather with the air conditioner on.
How Does It Work?
Thermography shows you the difference between temperatures the same way that normal light shows you the difference between colors. On the screen of our thermographic cameras, the relative heat or coldness of surfaces — can be seen clearly.
For example, one process our inspectors go through with the infrared cameras is pretty hot stuff. They turn on all of the water faucets on full blast, and then use the thermal cameras to trace the hot-water pipes back to the water heater, making sure that you have no leaks along the way. Similarly, turning the AC up can show us if you have any cold air leaking out of your ventilation ducts.
Of course, a thermal camera is no guarantee that leaks don’t exist — for example, if there’s been a long dry season, any moisture from a roof leak may have dried out, preventing the camera from detecting it. Similarly, the camera doesn’t actually look through the walls or any other objects — it just shows differences in surface temperature that can indicate something is amiss on the other side. Objects like filing cabinets, dressers, or other furniture can block a thermographic camera’s view.
What We Do
The inspector at 360 Inspections is talented with technology, and doesn’t hesitate to bring it into play. Here are some of the places that I use infrared imaging to seek out potential problems:
- The kitchen: below sinks and around vents and fans
- The bathroom: every plumbing fixture and outlet, shower enclosures, bathtub joints, toilets, bidets, and windows
- The laundry room: Around the appliance hookups and exhausts and the utility sinks or showers
- Heating: The furnaces, baseboard heaters, or woodstoves, and the water heater
- Electrical: The circuit breaker and/or fuse box, and each electrical outlet