Thermography

Moisture intrusion is the number one cause of major problems in homes and probably the most difficult to identify. For this reason, I have hired Ian Kelly, a professional, certified infrared thermographer who accompanies me to most inspections. Infrared thermography is a fancy term for a photograph of temperature. Damp areas will generally show up as cooler or warmer (depending on conditions) than the surrounding area. Thermography is the state of the art method for identifying moisture intrusion when there are no visual cues like ceiling stains or drywall damage.

It's not 100%, it is dependant on environmental conditions. It doesn't "find" mold, but if the conditions are right, it can be downright astounding.

The infrared camera is used to some extent on nearly every inspection and always used for areas where we suspect moisture entry. For a small extra charge, a more in-depth thermal analysis is done that can identify missing or thin insulation or electrical overheating issues. It is unparralled for assessing in-floor heating systems.

The infrared analysis is not a home inspection and not a substitute for a thorough home inspection but is an invaluable extra provided by a certified expert that provides a level of service that most home inspectors don't offer.
For pictures of some of the issues found with thermal imaging, click here.

I am now offering a limited thermal scan for as little as $100 as an add-on to a home inspection for homes under 2000 square feet. This is a scan of interior ceilings and walls looking for water leakage and missing insulation.

WHAT IS THERMAL IMAGING OR AN INFRARED SURVEY?

An infrared survey uses a state of the art infrared camera or thermal imager to scan walls, floors, ducts, doors and windows to identify minute temperature differences. Essentially, it converts heat energy into a visible picture. Moisture in a wall or under the roof covering shows up due to the slight temperature differences. Cold or warm air is visible flowing from cracks or holes in walls and ducts. Missing or inadequate insulation is evident from the temperature difference or surrounding areas.

WHY DO I NEED AN INFRARED SURVEY?

ENERGY EFFICIENCY
An infrared survey locates areas of missing or inadequate insulation is walls and ceilings.
An infrared survey locates areas of air leakage at doors, windows and wall penetrations.

BUILDING ENVELOPE LEAKS
An infrared survey can pinpoint water leakage in walls and roofs and often identify the source area of the leak.

Mold is the result of moisture entry. Mold remediation alone does not address the cause.
A survey before remediation will help determine where moisture is entering so that the cause can be corrected, greatly reducing or eliminating re-infection.
A second survey is recommended after remediation to be sure the repairs were effective.
With mold remediation costing thousands of dollars, a survey is cheap insurance.

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
An infrared survey:
Locates "hot spots" in wiring and breaker panels due to overloaded circuits, improper splices and poor connections.
A proper survey can greatly reduce the chance of a house fire.

PLUMBING SYSTEM
An infrared survey can locate breaks or leaks in water lines under the concrete slab.

DO I NEED A SURVEY OF THE ENTIRE HOME?
In many cases I am called out to look at a specific item such as a roof or wall leak. If you have a single problem that you have identified or attempted to correct, a single item survey may be all that you want or need. This is especially recommended in mold remediation where I may have to return several times to be sure the problem has been properly corrected.
Some problems, such as a leak at a window frame may indicate a construction defect. In these cases, I recommend checking all windows, not just those where a problem has become visible. If one window is improperly flashed, it's likely that all are improperly flashed.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
I never know ahead of time what exactly will be involved in surveying a particular home or the eventual complexity of every job, therefore infrared surveys are conducted on an hourly rate. The base rate is $100 per hour with a $150 minimum. It is probably more important to consider:

HOW MUCH DOES IT SAVE?
In some cases, a lot. Here are some examples:
The leaking flat roof that no roofer seems to be able to repair. Eventually they throw up their hands and recommend replacing the roof. I can often pinpoint the water entry point allowing repairs and saving sometimes tens of thousands of dollars.
The expensive mold remediation that only had to be done once because the underlying problem was properly identified and addressed.
The leaking window frames that were identified and repaired before a mold problem developed.
The overheating wiring splices below the drywall that were repaired before there was a fire.
The hot water piping leaking below the slab, caught before there was major foundation damage.

These are just a few examples of the kinds of things discovered routinely with thermography. Whether you are interested in preventative maintenance or solving a specific problem, give me a call to set up an appointment, it's time and money well spent.

For specific examples of deficiencies found in an infrared survey, look at the photos below.

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