Thermal Imaging Is Sometimes Science And Sometimes Art

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Depending on the palette used, thermal infrared images can reveal different things.  On the palette I am using for this image a wet spot would typically appear as blues, lavenders and purples.

Infrared cameras, contrary to some phony ads I see, do NOT see inside walls!  They don't have X-ray vision.  They see very long light waves, not visible to our eyes.  And they see them very well. 

As such, what the camera "sees" are differences in temperatures.  That's the science part!  A cooler temperature can indicate moisture, but NOT NECESSARILY!  Something as innocuous as the shade of a tree on the side of the house can create a temperature difference in an image which is minute, BUT LOOKS LIKE MOISTURE.  That is the art part!

That is where the experience of the operator/technician/super-cool infrared guy comes in!  We experienced thermographers are worth our weight in gold!

My camera produces images of 120x160 pixels, which was state of the art 7 years ago when I bought my camera and still very good today.  It also determines levels of temperatures in tenths of a degree Fahrenheit.  So an image can indicate one thing or another!

For this reason it is important to couple an infrared exam with a moisture meter.

Take this image to the right.  That purple spot is EXACTLY what a wet spot might look like.  But, its location in the house was weird.  There was little above that spot which could have produced moisture.  The center of the house, and therefore the ridge vent, was not overhead.  Nor was there any plumbing penetration through the house.

From the attic, the roofing above this spot looked dry and there was no evidence of dripping moisture on the insulation.  The moisture meter registered no moisture at all.  So, what caused this purple spot?

Just above this is the large, center trunk of the flexible HVAC line, off of which run each of the spurs which service the rooms on each side of the hallway.  And, feeling around, just above this spot the flex line had a tear, perhaps there even from original construction!

The HVAC system has been alternatively heating and cooling the attic!  Easy to fix with aluminum tape, that tear over time could have caused mold.  And this is the baby's room.

WITHOUT AN INFRARED CAMERA THIS SPOT MIGHT NEVER HAVE BEEN FOUND.  And therefore the repair might never have been made!  And this is an easy and permanent repair.

My recommendation:  if you have one in your area (not all home inspectors have this technology or the training to use it), call in a thermographer to sweep the entire house.  They can find many things - moisture related to plumbing or roof, electrical issues, insulation problems, even termites or other fauna inside the walls!  AND, best of all, they are all really, really cute...

 

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Virginia Prince William County Bristow
Groups:
Ask the Home Inspector
Professional Home Inspectors
Adventures in Home Inspecting
Canadian Bacon
HyperLocal Neighborhood and Community Posts
Tags:
thermal imaging
hvac problems
thermal infrared

Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainer
278,000
Kathryn Maguire
GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881 - Chesapeake, VA
Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach

Thermal imaging and a cute inspector???  What a bargain!  Where do I sign up?

Oct 19, 2010 01:54 AM #1
Rainer
322,830
Don MacLean
Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY - Franklin, MA
Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA

I guess this is one of those times when a picture truly is worth a thousand words.

As well as a detection system for problems past and present.

And kinda cool

Enjoy the day

Oct 19, 2010 01:55 AM #2
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Every one Kathryn!  I think you can sign up where ever you live!

Don - thanks.  It really is.  What is great about the technology is that I can go into a house to perform a one-year inspection, just prior to the warranty giving up, and find fallen or misplaced insulation.  The photo images are definitive and the builder simply cannot argue.

Oct 19, 2010 01:59 AM #3
Rainmaker
786,304
Mike Jaquish
Realty Arts - Cary, NC
919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate

Jay,

I love this stuff!  How much time does it take to do a thermal audit of a common 2000SF home?

(I know, kinda like "How much does a roof cost?")

Oct 19, 2010 02:20 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Depends on what I am looking for Mike.  But a general sweep of an average house only takes about an hour.  If there are specifics I am looking for in addition, like ice dam leaks, electrical issues, etc., it might take a bit longer than that.  The real time is putting together the report in a coherent and understandable manner.

It's very cool technology and in short order things can be discovered, never known previously!

Now, if Mosby shows up, and we talk, it could take longer yet...

Oct 19, 2010 02:25 AM #5
Rainmaker
313,378
Glenn Roberts
Retired - Seattle, WA

There are a few thermal imaging companies getting a start here in Seattle, but it's not anything most buyers do at present.

Oct 19, 2010 02:45 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,242,875
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

I am in Parma, had some time so checking in. We could use that device here. Seems warm then you go out and wish you had your coat.

Oct 19, 2010 03:50 AM #7
Ambassador
3,667,895
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jay, hope you bring that thing with you to 905 Hamlin St NE today!  See you at 3!

Oh, and is it the camera or the thermographer that is cute?

Oct 19, 2010 03:59 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Glenn - for sure a mental paradigm shift has to take place among consumers, agents and home owners!

Steve - you might be giving off a very distinct thermal signature!

Pat - it will be in the car.  If I need to break it out I will!  That's NE Baltimore right?

Oh, am I confused?

After our inspection I am going to Kensington to Continental Pizza to get one of Mike's famous subs for dinner.  I grew up on them - I started going to Mike's in 1965!  He is still there... for good reason!

Oct 19, 2010 05:31 AM #9
Rainmaker
261,790
Barb & Sal Dragotta
Macomb, MI
Macomb County Michigan

Jay...and to think that I thought the thermal imaging was only used to 'locate ghosts', now discover that this type of thermal imaging looks for the cool hits = moisture=trouble=mold build-up.  This is great stuff  uh...technology.
"Thermographer"---WOW ! and  "Cute" --double WOW.  [spell-check would not accept Patrick's word of thermographer, but I lke it so it stays as is.]
Have a great week.

Barb &Sal 

Oct 19, 2010 05:38 AM #10
Rainmaker
2,628,672
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

I think thermal imaging is all about making pretty pictures.  Oh, and having another cool gadget toy.  Kidding.

Oct 19, 2010 09:51 AM #11
Rainmaker
683,580
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Just finished an IR job which I will be writing about soon. 

Oct 19, 2010 11:32 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,810,560
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

B&S - thermal imaging -- not just for ghost hunting anymore!  And "thermographer" is a very cool title and we thermographers have great T-shirts which identify us.  It's a very elite club!  And yes, cute is as cute does...

You're right, the computer doesn't like the word.

Debbie - that's EXACTLY what it is all about - very pretty pictures!  And, I assure you, I bought that device 7 years ago for just over $15K, when it arrived at the door it wasn't perceived as "another cool gadget toy!"  (Shhh, that's exactly what it is...).  It paid for itself pretty quickly with my clever marketing.

Jim - send it!  SEND IT!  You gonna do another layer cake?

Wow, just getting home from work.  That Pat Kennedy really worked me!  Of course, the job was downtown and not exactly nearby!

Oct 19, 2010 01:55 PM #13
Rainmaker
683,580
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

No more cake Jay, but I'll try to make something "sweet".

Oct 20, 2010 01:44 AM #14
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
1,810,560

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
You may contact me anytime...
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Additional Information