What is thermal imaging?
Home Inspections have been, traditionally, visual inspections. This has been taken to mean visual to the human eye and readily seen.Thermal imaging is a method of improving visibility of objects in a dark environment by detecting the objects' infrared radiation and creating an image based on that information.
How dose it work?
Here's a brief explanation of how thermal imaging works: All objects emit infrared energy (heat) as a function of their temperature. The infrared energy emitted by an object is known as its heat signature. In general, the hotter an object is, the more radiation it emits. A thermal imager (also known as a thermal camera) is essentially a heat sensor that is capable of detecting tiny differences in temperature. The device collects the infrared radiation from objects in the scene and creates an electronic image based on information about the temperature differences. Because objects are rarely precisely the same temperature as other objects around them, a thermal camera can detect them and they will appear as distinct in a thermal image.
Why should I have it done?
•Extends the Inspector’s ability to inspect the house.
• Help us to find conditions that would otherwise go unnoticed.
• Serve as an additional method of verifying defects suspected or found by other means, thus better proving the existence of the defect.
• Give the Inspector a better understanding of other/potential problems with the house, and their causes.
Standerd photo of a roof jack.
Thermal imaging of roof jack.
Close up of roof jack.
Ok that one was kind of obvious..Right?
How about the next one?
Ok so how do we know the temperature diference is moisture and not just a cold spot?
We don't just rely on thermal imaging to say "Yes, here is where the water intrution is and the possible cause". We use other means to determine that there is in fact a moisture issue. We use both pin and deep senseing pinless moisture meters to futher insure that it is in fact moisture and not something else.
The thermal photo above shows that in the bottom left corner of the window is cool and leading to the floor is even cooler. You can also see where the moisture is starting to spread/wick to the sides. So we check to verify that it is indeed moisture. So below are two photo, first photo shows the left corner of the window ( appears light blue in thermal photo) registers at 63%. This is high moisture content it would be 0% if it were dry. Second photo was taken towards the bottom of the wall where it meets the flooring (appears darker blue in thermal photo). It reads 96% moisture this is very high moisture content.
So by the photos and our meter readings we can accurately say that the window was leaking. Starting at the left corner of the window behind the wall (63%)draining down to the bottom and pooling the water (96%).
Photo 1. Bottom left of window
Photo 2. Wall meets floor.