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Thermal Imaging and Home Inspections

Updated on September 17, 2014

How Does Thermal Imaging Work

Infrared Thermal Imaging (ITI) is a non-invasive, non-destructive way of evaluating conditions below the surface. Using a Thermal Imaging device allows us to detect small, but crucial differences in temperature throughout the house within the building materials. No matter what the temperature is on the outside or inside a good Thermal Imaging camera can pick out wall studs and ceiling joists even when there is hardly any difference between inside and outside temperature. Heat loss and drafts are quickly detected and identified. This allows home owners to save money and energy by making their home more energy efficient.

Thermal Images from Infrared Camera

Examples of what Thermal Imaging can detect in your home or business.
Examples of what Thermal Imaging can detect in your home or business. | Source

Effective Thermal Scanning

The use of an Infrared Camera is subject to many variables such as quality, on-site conditions and, last but not least, the ability of the inspector to accurately interpret the data. The relative emissivity and T factor are the main factors in obtaining an accurate Thermal Scan. The best times for scanning residential homes in when there is a difference of temperature between interior and exterior of at least 20 degrees. Thermal scanning is still possible if Temperature Differential is not optimum and obvilous deficiencies as missing insulation, hidden moisture and electrical hot spots can still be located.

Experience and Knowledge

With over 5,000 inspections and 10 years plus actual home inspection experience the Barrie Home Inspector provides expertise that is un-matched in the area.

Free Thermal Imaging with every home inspection. WETT Certified for wood burning appliance inspections.

Certified Building Code Official with Ontario Building Officials Association.

Certified Master Inspector

Member of NACHI & NACBI

Thermal Imaging Leak Detection

Moisture leak detected in ceiling using Thermal Imaging.  Detects source and path of moisture leak from soffit area of roof.
Moisture leak detected in ceiling using Thermal Imaging. Detects source and path of moisture leak from soffit area of roof. | Source
Visual chart for Infrared light frequencies
Visual chart for Infrared light frequencies | Source

Infrared Home Inspection Information

Infrared (thermal imaging) is an advanced, non-invasive technology that allows the inspector to show clients things about their homes or buildings that can’t be revealed using conventional inspection methods. Some of the more common uses of Thermal Technology are:

Energy Loss

  • heat loss and air infiltration in walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors;
  • damaged and/or malfunctioning radiant heating systems;
  • air-conditioner compressor leaks;
  • under-fastening and/or missing framing members, and other structural defects that can lead to energy loss; and
  • broken seals in double-paned windows.

Moisture Detection

  • plumbing leaks;
  • hidden roof leaks before they cause serious damage;
  • missing, damaged and/or wet insulation; and
  • water and moisture intrusion around penetrations and at the foundation and building envelope that could lead to structural damage and mold.

Electrical Equipment

  • circuit breakers in need of immediate replacement;
  • overloaded and undersized circuits;
  • overheated electrical equipment and components; and
  • electrical faults before they cause a fire.

Home Inspection Deficiencies

Fluke Thermal Imaging Camera
Fluke Thermal Imaging Camera | Source
A large amount of electrical deficiencies usually indicates that work was done without a permit or inspection.
A large amount of electrical deficiencies usually indicates that work was done without a permit or inspection. | Source

Thermal Imaging Limitations

An infrared thermal imaging inspection does not guarantee 100% accuracy. It is an excellent tool for expanding the capabilities and overall effectiveness of a home inspection and can find problems not seen by a visual inspection. When thermal imaging indicates a problem, we recommend verification of any damage. This may require removing components, such as roofing materials, wall board, ceiling materials, or flooring to visually verify the issue(s).

The temperature of home and the relative outdoor temperature can greatly affect the capability of any Thermal Imaging inspection. Although any major deficiencies will still be detected the minor variations that can be noted during extreme temperature differences will not be possible.

While Thermal Imaging can detect wall studs and other components normally hidden from view, this does not signify x-ray capabilities. Infrared scanning detects the thermal signature of different materials. Nevertheless, much useful information can be inferred from the data. Overall, thermal imaging greatly reduces the risk of hidden problems by identifying areas that require further investigation. Although many issues that would not have been found during a standard visual inspection have been detected with an infrared camera, there are some limits to what can be detected by reading thermal anomalies. There are also limitations created by some materials that do not conduct heat adequately enough to emit detectable levels of thermal differences.

Thermal Imaging is provided FREE with every Home Inspection
Thermal Imaging is provided FREE with every Home Inspection | Source

Home Inspection Video

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