Energy auditing these days has become more precise and informative largely due to the newer breed of portable, less costly infrared cameras. Traditionally the major tool for home energy assessments was the blower door fan. This piece of equipment is a bulky calibrated fan designed to mount into the front door frame of the home. Its purpose is to determine how "leaky" the home is and help the auditor locate some of these leaks. One thing it can not do is find problems such as defective thermal pane windows.
During a recent infrared energy assessment on an 8000 square foot home I discovered a thermal anomaly on some of the windows in the homes living room. There were large cold areas in the center of some of windows. These cold spots were 10-15 degrees colder than the perimeter glass. Checking the rest of the house the camera revealed more windows with the same abnormality.
At first the home owner thought the heat was affecting the glass, but the glass was showing the defect in spite of the heat. (The arrow indicates the heating register)
Not all windows were defective. Notice the window below the extreme left window, there is no spot as well as the upper far right.
The next image is of two skylights. The left is extremely affected the right hardly at all.
These windows were made by a large well known national manufacturer. They are a high end thermal pane window.
I contacted the company to inquire about this problem. They immediately asked to set up a claim on behalf of the homeowners to replace the defective windows. I said they are not the original owners and the home was built in 1989. No matter they will investigate the problem and replace any defective windows.
I was astonished! Now that's customer service.
The company representative did tell me that there was a manufacturing defect they referred to as collapsed glass. The person on the phone did not expound on this information, but believe I can extrapolate the meaning.
The two glass panes must be moving toward each other (collapsing). This would very likely explain what the IR camera was seeing. The closer the glass, the quicker it transfers cold.
There were no outward signs on the glass such as condensation or fogging that would have alerted someone to a potential problem. Only with the infrared camera were the windows secret revealed.
The infrared camera is an outstanding instrument for energy loss investigation. It can quickly visually display the location of the energy deficiencies in a home. It can also find problems that may have gone undiscovered. This device used as part of an energy audit can aid in providing a detailed over all energy assessment. Energy audits performed without infrared are lacking important information.
My advice is when looking for an energy auditing service, be sure they utilize infrared. You never know what secrets might be revealed through the eyes of these cameras.
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC
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