Do You Have Ghosts?

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

Several years ago I was contacted by a group of ghost hunters from Massachusetts who were interested in my infrared services. According to the youthful phantom finder on the other end of the line, infrared cameras are capable of detecting other worldly entities. I was both intrigued and amused by his spirited enthusiasm. He made a lively pitch hoping I would aid him and his companions out of pure curiosity for he could not pay. Seems ghost hunting is more a hobby than a vocation. Needless to say I declined his offer.

Ghosting on a ceiling in Connecticut While hunting ghosts in certainly not a diversion I care to engage in, on occasion I am called on by a homeowner to identify the cause of strange goings on in their house. Such was the case recently when a gentleman called to inquire about my infrared services. He was having a recurring problem on his kitchen and bathroom ceiling. He feared there might be a leak or a moisture related problem which he was unable to find.

When I arrived on the day of our appointment, the man showed me to the kitchen so that I could set up my equipment. This was also one of the rooms that had the problem. He pointed to the ceiling over the back kitchen door. I could see the distinct dark pattern extending from the wall several inches into the room.

I told him it was ghosting.

This phenomenon has nothing to do with phantoms or spooks. Simply, the dark patterns are created by dust and dirt sticking more readily to those particular areas, thus forming the pattern. In some instances these dark stains are mistakenly thought to be mold. The formation of these smudges is more often due to a high amount of particulates in the air. A common cause is soot from candles or wood burning stoves.Infrared image of missing insulation corresponding to ghosting patterns on the ceiling

What is occurring here is the ceiling is colder where there is ghosting. Usually the pattern is of the wall studs, not the stud bays. This pattern tells me the ceiling is missing insulation in those areas. Scanning with my ghost finder, infrared camera, the coldest areas form exactly the same pattern in the infrared spectrum.

The ghosts the youths from Massachusetts were seeking are in reality much more elusive than the type found on the ceiling of this house. 

 

Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Rainmaker
841,357
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Yikes, what a difference on that house, heat just rushing on out like an open window.

Jan 22, 2013 09:33 PM #1
Rainmaker
694,665
Clint Mckie
Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections - Carlsbad, NM
Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586

Hi James.

Ghosting is an issue related to moisture. Good find. No one could have found there was a major issue without the use of an infrared camera.

Have a great day in Connecticut.

Best, Clint McKie

Jan 22, 2013 09:34 PM #2
Rainer
171,130
Robert Butler
Aspect Inspection - Montreal West Island, QC
Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection

That's a pretty good match between the stains and your thermal imaging. I've seen stains from air borne soot or other particles like that cause by heat concentrations.

You see it in ceilings above mirror lighting, especially single bulbs. And when you see it in streaks on walls above outlets you know that plug-in lighting or scent devices where there and concentrated the air flow.

Note  - the bulbs and devises are not the cause of the soot, they just concentrate the air flow (and therefor the staining) by the walls or next to the ceilings.

Jan 23, 2013 01:55 AM #3
Rainmaker
592,740
Than Maynard
Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma - Purcell, OK
Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862

Looks like they didn't quite get the insulation all the way to the end of the ceiling.

Jan 23, 2013 02:44 AM #4
Rainer
284,418
Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

James -- another reason for this in the kitchen is probably due to the various "contaminants" that get put into the air while cooking.  They would be warm, and try to get to the cold area.

Jan 23, 2013 04:38 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,849,772
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, we sure see ghosting a lot!  And as you know, I have a ghost who follows me around on my inspections.

Needless to say, he NEVER shows up sitting on a roof while I am up there...

But you already knew that.

Jan 23, 2013 05:15 AM #6
Ambassador
1,334,262
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, at least these are ghosts we can believe in :)

Jan 23, 2013 07:40 AM #7
Rainmaker
690,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

David, Exactly. The homeowners thought these stains were water related.

Clint, Actually the camera just confirmed what I already suspected. 

Robert, I see those same things as well.

Than, I was told it was pulled back to allow for air flow from the soffit vents.

Steven, You bet. The living room ceiling didn't have the stains, but appeared in the same condition through infrared. 

Jay, Are you interested in a trip to Massachusetts? :)

Charlie, Yes they are :)

Jan 23, 2013 08:13 PM #8
Rainmaker
1,849,772
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Mosby probably would go there in a minute, although it is probably a bit out of his range while on earth.  Maybe the new vistas would entice him, or maybe sit on a roof with you!

I drove through MA on my way to Maine about 30 years ago.  Does that count?

Jan 23, 2013 08:22 PM #9
Rainmaker
690,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Sure. What did you see?

Jan 23, 2013 08:47 PM #10
Rainmaker
1,849,772
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Ha!  Remember, 30 years ago.  As I remember it was mostly the east side of Boston.  We weren't in the state for very long!

Jan 23, 2013 09:36 PM #11
Rainmaker
490,673
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, A ghost in the machine, You should of went on the ghost buster finding mission. Would of made a great story.

Jan 24, 2013 12:49 PM #12
Rainmaker
690,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jay, I can't remember yesterday ;)

Don, Perhaps. My opinion of ghosts would have made me a bad companion :)

Jan 24, 2013 10:05 PM #13
Rainer
27,008
Stephen Gaudet
Gaudet Inspections - Manchester, NH

James, Nice IR pictures. BTW: stay out of Mass.  The curupt governer is looking for news ways to tax people.  Last I heard they installed a shake down machine at the tolls looking for any loose change on your person.  Kidding, but close to the truth.  Income tax may hit 6%, and they dropped a lot of home inprovement deductions.

Jan 27, 2013 12:39 AM #14
Rainmaker
690,134
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Steve, I never go to Mass., unless I'm just passing through. 

Jan 27, 2013 10:48 PM #15
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