Detecting moisture intrusion with infrared (thermal) imaging

Home Inspector with Massachusetts Home Inspections MA. License#566

Moisture is the leading cause of costly building upgrades today. Scanning interior surfaces of your building can reveal excess moisture due to roof leaks, plumbing leaks, moisture entering your building at wall penetrations, leaks around windows and doors, locating hidden dampness under resilient flooring, and many other susceptible areas throughout your home.

Moisture on most building materials can easily destroy the structural integrity of a building and nurture Mold within days. The first step in any moisture problem remediation is to quickly and accurately locate and remove all sources of moisture in order to prevent wood rot and Mold. I'll be able to instantly detect the ultimate source and exact location of any moisture entry area with little or no physical dis-assembly of the premises and minimal disturbance of anyone living in the home. This prevents building owners from ripping out entire walls and ceilings in order to pinpoint a problem area or to repair a leak somewhere inside the surface.

                 THIS IS WHAT YOU SEE                              I SEE A WET CEILING AND WALL

The moist areas of building materials cool when energy is transferred during the water evaporation process; therefore (during a thermal scan), a wet "cooler" area will stand out from the surrounding dry "warmer" surfaces. If I do locate moist areas in your home, I will be taking both digital and thermal pictures of these areas of concern in order to include these findings into your infrared report. Specified sections of wall or ceiling coverings can then be removed in order to perform the repairs that caused the moisture build-up. I will be alleviating the need to remove large sections due to pinpointing the exact location of the moisture build-up. Once the coverings are removed and the source of the leak has been properly repaired and all wet materials have been removed from the building, corrective measures must be taken for drying out the area before any materials can be re-applied. I am able to monitor the drying process for you, and confirm when your building's damaged area is completely dry (Mold-free) and ready for re-construction. Then your building contractors will be able start installing your finished areas to your specifications.

My infrared camera does not detect the actual Molds behind your walls and ceilings, but will detect the issues associated with Mold build-up. When basement walls are covered by finish materials, thermal imaging can give you a definitive answer as to whether or not there are moisture issues behind these materials. An infrared camera is basically an on-board computer and a display screen that will show me the thermal images and temperatures that quickly identify the moist, cold or warm areas where molds are likely to be growing. Once I successfully locate an affected area, an invasive inspection at that exact location is then recommended. Required corrective actions are now able to be taken immediately, in order to alleviate extensive damage and any Mold accumulation.

You can also hire me for Moisture contamination evaluations after a severe flood, broken water lines, and equipment failure or even before acquiring real estate suspected of having hidden moisture damage. (Hint: Don't believe the story about the house that has musty odors because it has been vacant and closed up for a while. Musty odors are caused by moisture.)

Comments (7)

Betsy Byersmith
ReMax Central Group - Sylvania, OH
Realtor, GRI, CRS Toledo, Ohio
I am in do you get one of these cameras and how much do they cost???
Mar 08, 2008 10:20 PM
David Valley
Massachusetts Home Inspections - Methuen, MA
Massachusetts Home Inspections



IR cameras costs anywhere from $4,500.00 (for the B-Cam models) and go as high as $25.000,00 for the highly specialized models. Take a look at IR cameras HERE.

My B-2 IR camera (slightly better resolution) cost me $8,400.00.

There are distributors throughout the United States, but I personally think Flir is the best out there.

IR cameras can also be leased but, if you're going to invest in an IR camera, you will definitely need training in order to interpret the images properly. Flir offers courses for $1,750.00 a course.

Mar 08, 2008 10:35 PM
Terry & Bonnie Westbrook
Westbrook Realty Broker-Owner - Grand Rapids, MI
Westbrook Realty - Grand Rapids Forest Hills MI Re
Good info thanks for sharing I will ask my inspector if he can provide the service on inspections.
Mar 08, 2008 10:42 PM
Brian Sharkey
SharkeyRE LLC - Tequesta, FL
SharkeyRE - #SouthFloridaBroker
Should be no problem charging a few hundred dollars for a three minute inspection using that camara.  At $25k for that equipment, that's a car... Wow well worth the investment.  You can find things most other inspectors can't or should I say don't.
Mar 08, 2008 11:10 PM
David Valley
Massachusetts Home Inspections - Methuen, MA
Massachusetts Home Inspections


Most HI's do not offer this service. My HI business slowed down last year (like everyone else in RE) so I decided to get into infrared imaging in order to expand my services. Now my schedule stays pretty full.

There are only a handful of HI's in each State that do offer IR imaging. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Mar 09, 2008 07:45 AM
David Valley
Massachusetts Home Inspections - Methuen, MA
Massachusetts Home Inspections


It takes longer than 3 minutes to properly perform an IR inspection on an average single family home. I average about 1 hour on the scan and about 1 hour on the reporting of my findings.

It's totally amazing at what can be located with thermal imaging.

Mar 09, 2008 07:47 AM
Edward Gilmartin
CRE - Boston, MA

This seems like a cost saving device that everyone should use when checking for the presence of mold. Seems more reliable than other methods too..

Jan 01, 2012 02:56 AM