Thermal Cameras Guide
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Thermal home inspection

Thermal Home Inspection: 7 Things It Can Tell You That Your Eyes Can’t See

1. Moisture Detection in Ceilings and Walls 

Thermal imaging is a superb technology for finding water damage in floors, walls, and ceilings.

Thermal imaging detects moisture problems by identifying the temperature difference between dry regions and wet areas that wouldn't be visible during a visual home inspection. It is especially helpful at identifying regions where insulation is lacking.


2. Plumbing Inspections

plumbing inspection

Water leaks from pipes frequently go undetected until significant damage has occurred.

Using thermal imaging, we can scan under, in, and around plumbing fixtures in the house to determine if there is active leaking.

Because thermal cameras are not a moisture meter, per se, plumbers use them to detect heat variations and then explore the problem visually to determine the origin and cause of the leak.

Thermal scanning can also find small temperature irregularities in pipes not visible to the human eye, which are often a precursor to a more significant issue.

A Thermal Image Scan report can be a terrific aid for a plumber hired to deal with the problem.


3. EIFS Inspections & Stucco

Thermal scanning has significantly improved our ability to do stucco and EIFS moisture invasion inspections.

If there is rot behind your stucco, it is usually visible with thermal imaging in the form of heat variations.

Thermal scanning can help to estimate the affected regions of moisture damage.

By incorporating this tool into stucco inspections, siding specialists are able to better identify where the trouble areas need repair.


4. Wood Destroying Insects & Termites

Thermal Imaging

Major wood-damaging insect activity can be identified using thermal imaging technology by detecting the heat generated by active infestations.

That's correct: termite activity produces a lot of heat that's usually visible to an infrared camera.

Insignificant activity may not be detectable, but regions not normally visible to the human eye can be identified.

Then a more technically exhaustive or invasive inspection can be done by the appropriate professional.


5. Energy Audits

Thermal imaging has been an excellent tool to help homeowners save money, particularly now that energy prices are on the upswing.

Heat loss and cold air influx can be discovered using IR imaging, and corrective actions can be taken to improve the energy efficiency of commercial and residential construction.

Once the energy-wasting regions are identified, improvements are made to seals and insulation to reduce energy consumption, which means more money saved.


6. Flat Roof Inspections

If you have a leak on your flat roof and have been told that a new roof is needed, thermal imaging can help reduce the cost.

Thermal imaging can be used to discover the leak's location and mark the affected area so that repairs could be made into that leaked area, instead of replacing the entire roof.

If the roof is old, however, then you should probably forego the cost of thermal imaging and just invest in a new roof.


7. Electrical Inspection

Abnormal heat associated with excessive current or high resistance is the primary symptom of many electrical systems problems.

An infrared/thermal imaging device helps electricians identify these invisible signatures of damage before the damage happens.

When current passes through an electric circuit, part of the energy is converted to heat energy. This is normal.

But if there is abnormally high resistance in the circuit or high current flow, more heat is generated which is not normal - which can be damaging and wasteful.

Infrared electrical inspections find hot spots due to flaws in components and connections.

Infrared thermography is used to locate regions of excess electric heat so that issues can be fixed before a component breaks, causing damage to the part and creating productivity loss and safety hazards.

As increased heating is a sign of failure, infrared is the best tool for finding bad connections.


8. Mold Detection

Thermal Imaging Inspections

Whenever humid conditions exist longer than 72 hours in any sort of organic material like wood or cement board, mold can form.

An infrared camera can quickly, and in a non-invasive manner, help locate these issues.

That said, remember that a thermal camera detects the heat signatures only - it and does not estimate the moisture content and may not find all moist locations, particularly in humid and temperate locations.


What Is Thermal Imaging NOT?

thermal imaging home inspection

X-Ray Vision 🙂

A infrared thermal imaging camera isn't an X-ray vision scope.

It doesn't provide you with a quick Superman S on your heart with the capability to clearly see inside walls.

It detects thermal differences. That’s it.

Moisture Meter

An infrared thermal imaging camera isn't a moisture meter, either. It merely detects thermal anomalies.

This tool helps in identifying areas that need further (visual) investigation.

Risk Eliminator

A Thermal Imaging Scan Report does not identify all risks of hidden damage.

A Silver Bullet

An infrared thermal imaging camera isn't a silver bullet solution.

However, when used along with other technology, thermal imaging can help trained professionals to identify problems that are hard or impossibly to identify during a visual home inspection procedure.

About the Author Rob Carson

I work in commercial construction, in Dallas, TX.

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