We offer infrared inspections as an optional add-on service to our standard home inspection and as a troubleshooting tool for single-item inspections. Infrared inspections are done with a thermal camera, which shows surface temperature differences, which can give clues to a host of different problems with houses. Included below are some items that we’ve used infrared cameras for.
With all of the ice dam inspections we’ve done, we’ve found a lot of roofs leaking during the winter. For each photo in the series below, we created a duplicate of the original image, then overlaid a thermal image on top of the original. It’s pretty easy to identify the wet areas in the thermal images, but they’re not apparent in the original photos. The homes shown below had roof leaks from ice dams.
Hot Spots In Attics
Warm attics cause snow to melt, which is what causes ice dams. We’ve found an infrared camera to be invaluable while troubleshooting the causes of ice dams and frost in attics.
The photo below shows a warm spot in an attic that we never would have identified without an infrared camera. The culprit was a flush-mounted light fixture with light bulbs that had too high of a wattage. We don’t make a habit of taking apart light fixtures to check the wattage on light bulbs, but we’ll do it if something tips us off.
Uninsulated ductwork in an attic is also a problem; the heat loss is quite obvious with an infrared camera. The photo below came from an attic with an insulation value of R-60. Who would have thought it?
Recessed lights are a huge contributor to warm attics, whether they’re airtight or not.
This is one of the most obvious uses for an infrared camera. The photo below shows an attic access panel that wasn’t properly insulated.
This next image shows an interior wall that was very cold, because there was a missing section of insulation in the attic behind this wall.
The photo below shows the same section of wall, as seen from inside the attic.
In the photo below, there is an obvious cold spot where the insulation was missed or improperly installed.
When a wall or ceiling is completely missing insulation, the framing members appear as the warm images. The image below shows a home with insulation in the wall, but no insulation in the ceiling.
If a radiator doesn’t heat up properly, it will be quite obvious with an infrared camera. The photo below shows a radiator working properly.
The image below shows a radiator not heating up properly.
If there are voids or leaks in heating tubes for in-floor, in-wall, or in-ceiling heat, an infrared camera will probably find them. The photo below shows an inconsequential gap in the tubing at this heated ceiling.
Heated floors can be easily inspected with an IR camera.
The portions of floors that aren’t heated will be obvious as well.
We use infrared cameras to help identify leaking tiled showers. As mentioned in our 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.
We shared this photo in a blog post about not connecting downspouts directly to yard drains, but here it is again. The blue area is wet.
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.
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.
For the record, only one neutral wire is allowed at each lug.
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.