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Thermal Imaging: Problem Identification

Updated on May 2, 2013
The corner of a porch overhang.
The corner of a porch overhang. | Source

This beaded porch ceiling looks fine to the naked eye. However, there was enough evidence of possible moisture penetration for me to break out the thermal imaging camera and see if there was an ongoing issue. If you cannot see from the photo to the right, the nail heads are starting to rust and the paint around some of the nail heads is starting to bubble and/or discolor. This is a classic sign of a slow leak. In this case, the house is about 9 years old and is showing its age in a few places. But this issue was something that caught the home owners by surprise.

Corner exposed by using a thermal imaging camera.
Corner exposed by using a thermal imaging camera. | Source

By using the thermal imaging camera to look at the same corner, you can clearly see the ceiling joist and the area right next to the house where the porch and house meet. The extreme differential of temperature and the formation of the dark area is a typical indicator of moisture penetration and shows moisture working its way along the ceiling joists which is very common. Water always will move from areas of high concentration to low concentration. In this case, the ceiling joist is soaking up some of the moisture.

Moisture spots along entire ceiling of the porch.
Moisture spots along entire ceiling of the porch. | Source

In the photo to the right, you can clearly see minor areas of moisture along where the house and the porch roof meet. This is a simple issue to fix as replacing the flashing between the roofs takes care of the leaking at this point. However, if this would have been left untouched, the repairs would have cost thousands because it would have damaged the porch ceiling, the wall framing, some of the siding, and possibly effected the structural integrity of the porch roof.

It is important when doing repairs on a home to not just look at what is obvious, but to look at other apparently small issues and ask, "Why is this happening?" Then you can begin to fully solve the problem.


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