COVID-19 Update: Structure Tech Home Inspections is still open for business. To see what we’re doing to help keep everyone safe, please see COVID-19 and Home Inspections.

Reuben Saltzman

Home Inspections and Infrared Cameras

Last week I shared a blog post by Allison Bailes that discussed patent trolls, infrared cameras, and home inspectors. Today, I’d like to share why I care about this topic.

My infrared camera is definitely the coolest home inspection toy tool that I own. I can bust my dog for sitting on the couch, prove to my kids that they’re not really “freezing”, and confirm that my wife is hot. In addition to that stuff, I’ve discovered lots of useful ways to use this camera for home inspections.

When we first started offering infrared inspections, we had one camera that we juggled between everyone. Today, I’m proud to say that all of the inspectors at Structure Tech have infrared cameras. We don’t always use infrared cameras during home inspections, and we charge extra for a full infrared inspection, but these cameras frequently come in handy for identifying and documenting defects. The most obvious use of an infrared camera is to identify insulation defects in walls or air leaks in attics, but the images below show several other examples of ways that infrared cameras can be useful to home inspectors.

Leaking Showers

We use infrared cameras to help identify leaking tiled showers. As I mentioned in my blog post about shower leaks, we test tiled showers by flooding the shower base with about 2″ of water, and then letting the water sit in the shower for about 45 minutes to an hour.  If the tiled shower base leaks, water will show up on the ceiling below.

Through the diligent use of an infrared camera, we can almost always identify these leaks before they stain the ceiling below.  The images below show a few examples of tiled shower leaks identified with infrared cameras during home inspections.  Of course, we always verify these leaks with a moisture meter before reporting them as leaks. Cold spots in ceilings aren’t always leaks.

Tiled shower leak 1

Tiled shower leak 2

Tiled shower leak 3

Wet Basements

I recently shared this photo in my blog post about not connecting downspouts directly to yard drains, but here it is again. The blue area is wet.

Wet basement from downspout blockage

It’s one thing to say there’s moisture intrusion in a basement, but having an infrared image that shows the area that’s wet really helps to tell the story.

Electrical Problems

Scanning electric panels with an infrared camera can easily identify overheated conductors or circuit breakers.  The panel shown below had an overheated neutral wire, which I suspect was the result of a loose connection; there were two neutrals connected to a single lug.

Overheated Neutral

For the record, only one neutral wire is allowed at each lug.

Inspecting In-Floor Heat

Inspecting in-floor heat with an IR camera quickly shows which areas are heated.   The image below shows a heated garage floor.

Heated Garage floor

Quickly Inspecting Radiators

It’s much easier to make sure a radiator is heating properly by just pointing an infrared camera at it.  The radiator shown below wasn’t heating properly.

IR Image - Radiator not heating properly

Suspected Exterior Leaks

We rarely use infrared cameras outdoors because the sun really messes with our results, but we’ll occasionally get a nice image at the exterior that illustrates suspected water intrusion. The image below shows a suspected leak at the wall of a stucco home with missing kickout flashing.

Stucco leak

Again, we don’t report leaks without verifying them with a moisture meter. The only way of confirming a leak at a stucco home is to perform invasive moisture testing, which is a service we don’t offer. We leave that up to the folks that specialize in that service. Infrared inspections are not an acceptable substitute for invasive moisture testing on stucco homes.

Random Surprises

We may have never found this hidden floor register without the use of an IR camera. This was a new construction home where the carpet installers apparently went a little too fast.

Hidden floor register

We have several more examples of things that can be identified with an infrared camera at our web page on infrared inspections, but they’re mostly focused on energy loss.

Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

          

One response to “Home Inspections and Infrared Cameras”

  1. Detroit Home Inspection
    September 21, 2013, 4:43 pm

    Thanks for sharing these good information to everyone.Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you will ever make. This is no time for you to shop for a cheap inspection. The cost of a home inspection is small relative to the value of the home being inspected. The additional cost of hiring a certified inspector is almost insignificant by comparison. As a home buyer, you have recently been crunching the numbers, negotiating offers, adding up closing costs, shopping for mortgages, and trying to get the best deals. Don’t stop now! Don’t let your real estate agent, a “patty-cake” inspector, or anyone else talk you into skimping here. Purchasing a home should be a rewarding experience and not one filled with grief and regret. Keep your family safe and save money by choosing Stocks Home Inspection.Cheers!..

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a Reply