New Home Inspection Tool – Thermographic Scans

This weekend while visiting family, I learned of a new technology used to supplement home inspections. The technology goes by a variety of names including thermographic scan, infrared testing, thermal scan, and thermal image scanning. What all of these have in common is that they produce images identifying temperature differences in surfaces such as walls, floors and ceilings. The temperature differences often identify areas where moisture is present since moist surfaces conduct heat faster than dry surfaces.

My partner’s brother and wife had a thermographic scan done in addition to a home inspection on the house they recently purchased and thought it was very helpful. Their cost for the thermographic scan alone was $400 for a 5,000 sf. home. Prices vary by home size. I’ll see if I can get a home inspector to explain these home inspection tools further in a future post.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Fran Bailey Fran Bailey is a Realtor who has been quoted in numerous Chicago and national publications. To schedule showings for any listings, get a free market analysis for your home or to contact Fran email her at fran.bailey@bairdwarner.com or call 773.793.4516. Learn More

Comments

  1. says

    Hello Fran-

    I am the House Detective for HGTV’s House Detective Series which airs on their network Sunday mornings (http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_hdt). I am also a Certified Building Science Thermographer and Certified Home Inspector.

    Your concise explanation of the technology and its application to home inspection is very accurate. The technology has many applications that do include moisture scans, scans of the electrical system for “hot spots” – which may represent fire hazards, energy audits for missing insulation, and HVAC scans for evaluation of the heating/cooling systems.

    The science behind the technology was developed for the US military. It has been deployed in a multitude of other industries with great success. As it pertains to the home inspection industry, it is a technology that requires proper application and training of the inspector to yield useful information for buyers and sellers of real estate.

    My advice to your readers/clients is make sure the individual you have hired is certified as a home inspector and certified as a building science thermographer, in addition to having at least of year of field experience. The technology is a gem but does require skill to interpret the images.

    There are a couple of manufacturers that are making cameras for the home inspection industry. The largest manufacturer of the technology for home inspectors is Flir Systems (www.flirthermography.com). In addition to making the equipment, Flir offers an extension training package to every client. Fluke corporation is another provider for this equipment.

    Thanks for a great column.

    Regards,

    Steve Ramos
    HGTV House Detective
    Envirovue Home Inspection
    http://www.envirovue.com

  2. says

    I am glad you can see the usefulness of using a thermal imager. I am a home inspector in Sarasota FL and I too use a thermal imager for all of my home inspections. Four years ago when I first contacted Flir about buying a thermal imager for my home inspections they thought I was crazy but the reality is the end result is so much better using a thermal imager.

    Besides home inspections a thermal imager is very useful for a number of other applications. Today I have completed thermal inspections for local attorneys, construction firms, private residents and even overseas. I see this technology advancing to the point when real estate buyers will demand home inspectors use a thermal imager as part of their home inspections.

    I can’t agree more with what Steve Ramos said to your readers/clients is to make sure that the individual you have hired is certified as a home inspector and certified as a building science thermographer, in addition to having a few year of field experience. If you like I published a white paper on the subject available in my website http://www.2020inspections.net feel free to read it and comment any time.

    Keep up the good work.

    Regards,

    Jose Colon
    http://www.2020inspections.net

  3. says

    Dear Fran;

    I am a Chicago area Home Inspector (North Shore area) and I do thermal imaging as part of every home inspection. It is, truly an amazing tool.

    It is not only great for quickly scanning the exterior walls of the house (from the inside) to rule out water intrusion (especially in finished basements and around window and door openings) but I also use it for determining the adaquacy of ceiling and wall insulation. I find many new constuction homes where the insulation of the HVAC ducts in the attic is not complete and humid attic air condenses on these ducts and drips down on the ceilings. Thermal imaging is also good for looking for electrical problems (arcing circuit breakers, loose electrical connections) and EIFS evaluation. The most common use, I have found, is to rule out active water intrusion into attics, either from leaking roofs or from roof flashing defects.

    While not required in any state or national association standards of practice, it allows me to better serve my clients as well as protect myself from missing some non-visual defects.

    I believe, in 10 years, it will be a standard tool in every home inspector’s bag.

    Hope this helps;

    Will Decker
    Decker Home Services

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