I'm an old fashioned kind of guy. I prefer C.D.'s to MP3's ( in fact I have still to download any music over the net!). I miss my Vic-20. I like older computers because their slower speed provides a pace that is some somehow just more comforting. I still marvel when I can take a little plastic box, push some buttons and make the television change channels! It's a man thing. I can control the television with a push of a button. My will is law ! 

So, here in the Home Inspection world, along comes the newest tool for investigation; the Infra Red imaging camera. This camera allows the inspector to take pictures that reveal the relative temperatures of surfaces in view. So, the inspector can produce a collection of pictures that show areas of possible heat loss. From this information the inspector can draw conclusions about what is going on behind walls, around windows, foundations, roofs etc etc. It provides a 'view' of what was previously hidden and allows the inspector to 'see' where he previously couldn't.

But here is the problem. Home inspectors carry out what is known as a 'visual inspection'. That means that the inspector can only report on conditions  he can observe. Any defect that is not directly observable ( visible ) cannot be reported. When you think of it, that makes sense as reporting on any area that cannot be seen is a guess at best. 

One would think that the I.R. camera neatly circumvents this problem by providing a view of the hidden area so that the inspector can now report on any faults found there. But ( and you knew that was coming!) there is a school of thought, especially amongst lawyers that the I.R. camera opens the inspector to all kinds of grief because he is now reporting conclusions based on an effect rather than an observed fact. That is, the camera has detected the effect ( cooler / hotter ) that has been caused by SOMETHING behind the now famous wall, rather than a fact ( the wall is wet ) It is a slippery slope. If the inspector is able to draw conclusions from a detected effect then why didn't this new second site detect . . . . . . .  ?

I'm an old fashioned kind of guy and I am weighing the pros and cons of this new  I.R. technology In the mean time I have to go and assert my dominance over the television

Comments (8)

Jim Mushinsky
Centsable Inspection - Framingham, MA

Hi George.  I probably shouldn't mention that my car doesn't even have a CD player, the cassette tape is wonderful.

I have always viewed the home inspection as non-invasive as opposed to visual.   An inspector may not be able to see that an electrical power outlet is wired backwards, yet with the non-invasive receptacle tester we get the visual indication of reverse wiring and faulty grounds. 

I don't feel the concept of a tool that gives insight to concealed areas is a new concept in the home inspection industry.

I do feel that the results of an IR camera require a considerable amount of training and experience.

The 3 light power outlet tester is a tool that a home inspector may use proficiently with self training. (Just read the legend for the light codes).

The operation of the IR camera is simple, point and click.  There is your picture. Unlike the 3 light tester where you can clearly report upon the results, the IR picture may require more analysis.  I may not be reading your posting as intended, since I view the IR picture as providing the facts with respect to surface temperature.  I don't see the IR image providing the effect.  I can see all kinds of explanations in reports. 

I view the proficiency of the inspector with the tool as the key criteria.  I have seen some very proficient inspectors and learned a great deal.  I have also seen the camera clickers and listened to the misinformation. 

To me it sounds like you also have old fashioned values.  Weighing the pros and cons seems like a forgotten phrase.

Thanks for the posting.

Mar 05, 2009 03:26 PM
David Helm
Helm Home Inspections - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham, Wa. Licensed Home Insp

Well George, I too am old fashioned.  I only listen to the radio in my vehicle.  What ever happened to the 8-track?!!  I am inclined to agree with you about the IR, and, as the price comes down, there will be more and more untrained people using them.  I'll continue to go by my experience, intuition and moisture meter to provide my visual/non invasive inspections.

Mar 07, 2009 04:18 AM
MC2 Home Inspections
MC2 Home Inspections LLC - Indianapolis, IN
Indianapolis home inspection service 317-605-3432

By using these ir cameras I fear that home inspectors will be opening up a whole new can of worms. You all are exactly right. A home inspection is a non invasive "VISUAL" inspection. Once you start using these things, that throws all of that right out the window and now all of a sudden we will be expected to see through walls. I really truly believe they are being used by some inspectors as nothing more than a marketing ploy.

Thanks but no thanks on the IR cameras.

Mar 07, 2009 06:22 AM

HI Guys! (Thomas Magnum)


As I understand it, the problem is that the camera supplies information on the effect produced not the actual activity. (Hmmmm, that was as clear as mud) How about this; The picture of the hot and cold areas of a wall reveals information that is a byproduct of the actual problem. For example the water behind the wall chills the inside of the drywall which chills the outside of the wall. The picture doesn't provide empirical observations of the water. It provides information of a second or third hand effect of that water. So conclusions based on that information constitute a "best guess" on conditions not directly viewable which is outside the definition of a 'visual inspection'.

I had to think hard and long about that tester ( and now my head hurts) but the difference is that the tester supplies information from a direct physical connection to the electrical system, not information derived from a second or third hand source.

The defense rests !

Mar 07, 2009 11:33 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I've resisted the thermal imaging service so far. There just isn't any demand for it here.

I did rip all of my 5,000 CDs, stored the music on several one-terabyte external hard drives, and sold all the CDs. I now have lots of room in my home office, and the music is always just a mouse click away.

Jun 18, 2009 04:01 PM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Hey, George - Hope all is well with you and yours, that you're really busy, but that you'll be back soon to Play in the Rain with us. The Google juice is awesome.

Happy New Year!

Dec 29, 2009 11:29 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Just stopping by to invite you, and anyone reading this, to the ActiveRain Super Bowl Party. Stop by if you get a chance. Geaux Saints!

Feb 07, 2010 06:34 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Just stopping by to invite you to the 2nd Annual ActiveRain Super Bowl Party. Hope you’ll come and bring some friends!

Feb 06, 2011 12:12 PM