Home inspections are important when purchasing a home, but they can also be useful even long after the home has been purchased to reveal underlying issues that were never discovered. If you are considering getting a home inspection, keep in mind that not all home inspectors are certified to perform thermal imaging.
What Is Thermal Imaging?
Thermal imaging (TI) is the process of using an infrared camera to examine your interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and floors to look for leaks and damage to insulation and other parts of your home's structure that cannot be seen with the naked eye. It's non-invasive, so you can get an idea of what's going on inside your walls without breaking anything open.
We use thermal imaging within your home to detect the following:
Cold air leaks
Roof leaks (within 24 to 48 hours of rain)
Unevenness in insulation, improperly installed insulation
Improperly insulated HVAC ducting
Leaking skylights, roof vents, & roof vent piping
What Is Water Intrusion?
Water intrusion takes place when the siding and flashing have not been properly installed, so as rainfall occurs, water ends up behind the siding and soaking the structure of the home. It is very difficult to detect this type of damage without some exterior signs that this is taking place, unless thermal imaging is used. Thermal imaging is a non-invasive procedure and most types of water intrusion cannot be detected without looking at the physical structure.
Why Is It Hard To Detect Water Intrusion?
Water travels in many different ways. It drips, runs, evaporates, condenses, wicks, etc. This can make it very difficult to locate the source and without thermal imaging and a trained thermographer, the source may never be found.
Other Benefits of Thermal Imaging
Aside from simply being able to detect the general energy efficiency of your home, it can also be used to detect unwanted pests. Everything from ants and termites to mice, raccoons, and squirrels can be located with our equipment. Because the bodies appear as “hot” areas and with mice, their tunnels in insulation can often be an indicator of their presence.
We are also capable of detecting bad electrical wiring and defects, especially in breaker boxes. A breaker that is only rated for 15 amps producing 20 amps of load can cause a serious problem.
Air conditioning unit debris and clogs can also be located with TI.
It can also be used to detect the temperature of hot water throughout the home; where a bathtub faucet may put out water at 115?, but the kitchen sink may be over 125?.
TI can also be especially beneficial when testing the efficiency of the radiant heating installed in floors. Without it, you can't see if there is anything malfunctioning or overheating!
The ability to prioritize the repairs you make to your home. Even if you have already discovered problems with your home's energy efficiency or problems with moisture, thermal imaging can make sure that other problems aren't missed. You may missing more serious problems by not obtaining a thermal imaging home inspection. Remember: finding one problem doesn't mean you've found them all!
The Limitations of Thermal Imaging
Unfortunately, despite common misconceptions, thermal imaging doesn't have the capability of seeing through walls. It measures the surface temperature of solid objects only. This also means that thermal imaging displays differences between different areas of the wall the camera is pointed at.
TI cannot accurately measure the temperature of items that reflect light or are light-colored and placed in direct sunlight.
Is It Worth It?
Absolutely! In a recent poll, 30% of 1,428 Angie's List members stated that their home inspector failed to detect issues with their home that became major expenses later on.
Whether you're purchasing a home or need your current home inspected, detecting problems within the walls, ceilings, and floors can mean the difference between repairs that are a few thousand dollars and repairs that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Inspections can reveal everything from water logged ceiling trusses that have been trusted with holding up your roof to water leaking into your basement or behind your home's exterior siding.
Normal home inspectors not equipped with a thermal imaging camera and properly trained in its use cannot detect the same problems with a home that a trained thermographer can.
Why wait? You could be losing thousands of dollars in energy efficiency and potential repair costs if you don't get a thermal imaging inspection today.