Home Inspections and Infrared Imaging

Reposted from July of 2009.

I recently had the opportunity to meet with Dave Rowe of National Property Inspections for a new look at the many uses of infrared imaging. When I first received Dave's call, I truly did not comprehend the uses of this technology, how it may benefit my Buyers and Sellers, and what advances I could expect in the home inspection field. I assumed an infrared camera would determine heat/cold loss and that was the end of its scope. I was in for nice suprise.

Infrared imaging, sometimes called thermography, combines technical knowledge with specialized equipment as part of a home inspection to help identify problems behind the walls, ceilings or floors. Thermal imaging uses a specially-designed camera to register changes in temperature, or heat energy, across surfaces in a home. Trained inspectors use this radiometric infrared camera to scan the home for evidence of temperature changes. The camera converts the information into a digital image with heat changes depicted in various colors or shades of gray. The images are then interpreted by the inspector to provide the home owner, or buyer with additional information.

I was amazed at the various data points that could be obtained from the camera and how that related to real-world applications and answers to common home inspection concerns.
Possible information that can be obtained from the imaging include, but is not limited to:

***Moisture behind drywall
***Breaker box hot spots
***Missing insulation
***Heat loss
***Water temperatures
***Chimney water leaks
***Determining sources of leaks
***Determine missing window caulk

While the Flir Infrared Camera can help determine problem spots, it is necesaary to have a trained professional interpret the readings, and follow up with possible other equipment readings on a home such as a moisture meter to get a true understanding. I was impressed with the back-up support system offered by Flir, should my local NPI inspector get into areas where they still might have additional questions.

When it comes to home inspections, I believe this new application of technolgy will help my Buyers and Sellers tremendously in determining problem spots, or even giving peace of mind when it comes to that new home purchase.