Infrared (IR) Camera Inspections

 

Buildings like homes and offices are supposed to be places of comfort and safety.  An IR camera inspection of either the whole building or just specific sites can be very revealing. Take the two examples below.

  1. Insulation in the building. Not only are buildings insulated, but components inside the building are insulated.  Just looking at the insulation can never determine if the amount of, type of, and installation of the insulation is effective. But under the right conditions, the skillful user of an IR camera can find conditions in a building that are unsafe or inefficient.

 

IR Inspection

The photo above shows an insufficiently insulated HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) duct in an attic space.

The HVAC duct had insulation, but it was NOT effective!  With a 30-degree F temperature difference between the surface of the duct and the surrounding materials in the attic space, how much energy was being lost to the atmosphere?  If the house is found to not stay comfortable in the summer, or the utility costs are higher than necessary, more insulation over the ducts in the attic space would be a good place to work out a solution.  But without an IR camera inspection, how would the owner/buyer ever know?

  1. Equipment and appliances. Utilities use a lot of energy and are a great place to investigate with an IR camera.  Not only can overuse be an issue, but underuse can also be an issue.  Just looking at a cooling or heating device cannot tell the whole the whole story.  Yes, it works, but is it working efficiently? Effectively?

 

The above photo of a wall-mounted gas panel heater shows that only one of six panels is working.

While holding a hand over the top of the heater tells us that the heater is working, how well is it working? If only one panel out of 6 is producing heat, the unit is only 1/6th as effective as it could be. That room will very likely be uncomfortably cold during the heating season, but without an IR camera inspection, how would you know why?

The two examples above are only two places out of dozens that using an IR camera during an inspection could reveal much more about a building than only a visual inspection. To be fair, there are limitations to an IR inspection. First, it is beyond the scope of a regular home inspection. Second, it adds significant time to the inspection process.  Third, only a properly trained and experienced inspector, under certain conditions, will be able to find significant issues. So, it is not always possible to find every issue.

At Sky Island Inspections LLC, we can offer you the services of a CRT – Certified Residential Thermographer, for your inspections.   When considering which additional services to add to a basic building inspection, don’t forget to consider an IR inspection.