David Valley's Real Estate/Home Inspection Blog


INFRARED (THERMAL) IMAGING - Becoming a norm in home inspections



Even though the real estate market has slowed down quite a bit (compared to three years ago), Home Inspectors are getting more requests for infrared imaging than ever before. There are many home owners that are not familiar with IR inspections and I'd like to explain what infrared imaging is.

Now, there is so much information regarding this spectacular technology that I'm going to break this down into sections in order for you to fully understand infrared technology, and its uses and applications. Thermal imaging (IR) is highly advanced technology that was originally developed by our high tech military for use in enhancing night vision in advanced weapons systems during the Korean War. It was used extensively by our ground forces for general theatre scanning, target acquisition and sighting enemy objects in the midst of darkness. This truly amazing camera technology is so astonishing, that it is slowly migrating into the residential and commercial inspection field. Thermal Imaging is quite possibly, the most important technology to be utilized in the Residential and Commercial inspection profession today.

In the hands of Certified, Trained and Experienced Thermographers (such as myself), an infrared camera allows me to detect hidden issues behind finished surfaces of any building by evaluating the camera's images and temperature readings. Thermography is basically the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera that can actually "see" and "measure" thermal energy emitted from an object. The camera can only sense the temperature difference that transfers to the most outer surface of a wall, ceiling or floor (and if the Delta T, or temperature difference, cannot conduct this difference to the outer most surface then I am unable to see it clearly with an infrared camera). So it's crucial to have a temperature difference of at least ten degrees Fahrenheit between inside and outside temperatures. Most materials that are moist or located inside inaccessible surfaces will have an absolute temperature difference in a seasonal situation due to conditioning the living areas with heat in the winter and A/C in the summer. In New England's ever-changing weather, the inside and outside temperatures will contain sufficient differential most of the time. If the A/C or heat is not conditioning the home, and the outside temperature is the same as the inside temperature, then the infrared camera can not perform its intended function. Temperature differential is absolutely necessary for me to better interpret the camera images and its indicators.

Now that you understand what Thermography is, I'm going to be more explicit as to "How this technology actually works". Thermal, or infrared energy, is light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye; it's the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light (in the infrared world) everything with a temperature above absolute zero will always emit heat. Even very cold objects (such as ice cubes), will emit infrared images. The higher the object's temperature, the greater the infrared (IR) radiation emitted. By detecting those differentiating thermal patterns that are invisible to the naked eye, I'm able to point out concealed issues that need attention now. These findings enable homeowners to perform repairs in a predictive fashion rather than in a reactive manner, which is going to be far more expensive and time consuming when these invisible issues finally become apparent. Everything from faulty wiring whether it is in the wall or exposed, to the presence of concealed Termites, or concealed wet insulation and Mold build-up will affect the surrounding temperature of a surface. Heat-sensitive photography (IR) can reveal these and many other serious issues that cannot be seen by the naked eye or with conventional or digital photography.

My infrared camera enables me to detect extremely small but crucial heat patterns from one area of a structure to another. Even though thermal anomalies are invisible to the eye, temperature variations will clearly show up on my infrared camera's view screen as "cold" or "hot" spots. These spots will contain color variations along with excessive temperature differentials if hidden issues are lurking behind surfaces of your building. The spectrums of light will allow me to analyze what's going on in specific areas throughout your building. As you and I walk through your building, I will be pointing out any areas of concern and then interpreting my camera readings to you. Once my infrared inspection is finalized, my findings will be compiled into a professional report which will contain plenty of pictures and descriptions for easy understanding.

In order for me to complete your formal report in a professional manner, I have specially designed software that allows me to present your infrared findings and your digital photos in a side-by-side photo comparison format. This type of reporting system allows you to view both, the real time digital photo alongside the highlighted thermal photo of the area of concern. There will be no confusion in comprehending my easy-to-understand report. I will be including close-up infrared photos of all issues of concern along with digital wide angle views, so that everyone reading my infrared report will understand the exact location of the issues in question. Directly under these images, you will find my interpretations of what's actually going on behind particular surfaces of your home. SAMPLE IR REPORT

I am an expert who has a solid understanding of heat transfer laws, thermal dynamics and properties of why objects are hot or not or appear to be hot or not. Thermal imaging allows me to identify hidden problem areas much faster and (in most cases) can avoid building owners from using invasive and destructive measures in order to pinpoint problem areas behind finished surfaces. Scanning a building with my infrared camera provides me with crucial information about issues that may be hidden behind walls, ceilings, roof surfaces or any other inaccessible finished areas throughout your building. In providing this optional infrared service, I am now fully able to detect, interpret and document hidden faults and anomalies for immediate corrective action. I can even prioritize specific repairs to certain concealed areas of your building if the issue is serious. Without utilizing my infrared camera, there may be hidden defects that can normally go undetected in the course of my standard visual inspection.

Stay tuned for my next BLOG post, which will include the many applications that infrared imaging is used for and how easy it is to locate serious issues that are totally concealed behind your walls.

Additional information pertaining to infrared(thermal) imaging can be found at ....http:www.massinfrared.com


Comment balloon 22 commentsDavid Valley • January 20 2008 01:16PM
INFRARED (THERMAL) IMAGING - Becoming a norm in home inspections
Even though the real estate market has slowed down quite a bit (compared to three years ago), Home Inspectors are getting more requests for infrared imaging than ever before. There are many home owners that are not familiar with IR inspections… more