Thermography ? Thermal imaging ? Infrared Inspection?

Home Inspector with Seacoast Inspections LLC

What is thermography?

        Infrared testing is based on the principle that heat flow in a material is altered by the presence of some type of anomalies. These changes in heat flow cause localized temperature differences in the material surface. The imaging or study of such thermal patterns is known as Thermography.
 Heat can be described as the energy associated with the random and chaotic motions of the atomic particles from which matter is composed.
 Heat transfer can occur by conduction, radiation, convection, or a combination of these. When a surface is heated, there is an increase in energy of the atomic particles leading to a corresponding increase in temperature and emitted energy. The chaotic thermal agitation of atomic particles produce a form of radiant electromagnetic energy known as infrared  radiation (that is , radiation of frequencies beyond red). All materials (hot or cold) contain heat and radiate infrared energy.

Here are a few areas that thermography can be helpful!

 Heat loss & cold air infiltration in the building envelope
 HVAC system problems that result in poor efficiency
 Moisture intrusion
 Insulation problems
 Potential pest infestations
 Potential Mold Contaminants
 Roof, mechanical, electrical system  conditions
 Radiant floor problems


 Why use Seacoast Inspections?

       With the introduction of new less expensive camera's, there is an increasing number of people using infrared technology. This is good for everyone because it helps promote the technology. Unfortunately, alot of people are making a business decision to not get any formal training.
       You should understand that there are differences in the levels of training. Some home inspection associations and other web based companies offer a course over the Internet for you to become "Certified". Like everything else, some are good and some are not.      When a large company like a Dupont (for example)  looks for a Thermographer, the qualifications they look for are experience and if they are in compliance with ASNT ( American Society for Nondestructive Testing).This is as close to a national standard as there is in the industry.
      I offer a Level 2 Thermographer with 5 years building inspection experience who is in compliance with ASNT. This means I have experience, formal class room training, and have passed the required testing. In addition to being a Level 2 Thermographer, I have been "certified" by ITC (Infrared Training Center) as a Building Science Thermographer. Again, to attain these qualifications I had to go to onsite formal training and pass all required testing.
      I have experience in buildings from science centers to legislative buildings to residential homes. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns in regard to a thermographic inspection. There are many very good thermographers out there, just make sure you ask about there experience and training. It can, and does make a big difference in the quality of the inspection you will receive.

Typical Infrared Inspection

  I  start with an exterior inspection of the building. If possible I like to schedule inspections first thing in the morning. The reason is, there is no thermal loading by the sun that can mask or hide anomalies. If morning is not possible then evening is the next best time. After the sun has gone down and the exterior has had time to give up any thermal loading. This doesn't mean you can't perform an inspection at other times of the day. A good thermographer always has to take in consideration things like thermal loading, Delta T and wind among other things.
 Conditions are important when performing a building inspection. Ideally you like to have a minimum 18 degrees Delta T (temperature difference) between inside and outside. The use of the Blower door makes it possible to work with lower Delta T's. In the summer for example, if the home has AC this can be achieved easily. Obviously in the northeast, winter and fall is an ideal time as well.
 Once the exterior of the building is shot, I will set up the blower door. Usually this is installed in the front door, because this is in the middle of the home or building. Before turning the blower door on, I take shots of the interior to help identify any anomalies. Then as the blower door is running and putting the building under a negative pressure, I walk around again and shoot the walls and ceilings. For best results it is recommended to expose as much of the wall space as possible. If furniture and pictures are covering a wall, that will limit the amount of surface area that can be inspected.
 After gathering all the information and pictures. I will take this data back to the office and put a detailed report together. The report will contain digital as well as thermal pictures, with details listed about any anomalies. I provide general energy improvement advice and specific advice in regards to your buildings performance. I will give you recommendations for energy conservation improvements, and provide you with a road map to improving your home or business.

  Please feel free to contact me with any questions and make sure you visit my website .

Comments (3)

James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Terry, Good to read a post on infrared that details how it's done correctly. Not some sales pitch about how some company has a camera. I have asked almost everyone who has posted a blog on using IR during inspections how they yeild good information without accounting for conditions. Every time the response is the same, no response.

I follow the same scheduling protocols you outlined. When performing IR temperature conditions should be the first consideration.

Nov 24, 2008 11:35 PM
K Jones

Great post! Not enough people understand the practical uses of IR technology. If you get a chance, have a look at Thermoscan. They're doing great things in the thermal imaging industry. 

Apr 07, 2013 04:24 PM
K Jones

Apr 07, 2013 04:25 PM