Why use an infrared camera?

Infrared cameras are the latest technology being used for fast, reliable, accurate building diagnosis in a wide range of building problems, from evaluating Heating and AC systems, over-heated electric panels, and moisture problems.

Several home inspection companies offer Infrared services, but not all equipment is the same. We use the best high-end FLIR Infrared Thermal Imaging cameras. Just like any line of cameras, there are low end and high end. Our cameras provide a better resolution which results in more accurate inspections.

How does Thermal Imaging work?

Thermography is the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera to “see” and “measure” thermal energy emitted from an object. It is not a moisture meter and does not “see” moisture. The cameras help the inspector see temperature differences and anomalies which can be caused by moisture.  When two areas composed of the same or similar materials experience changing ambient temperatures, the area with the higher thermal mass (usually moisture) will change temperature more slowly.

Evaluating a home with an IR Camera is a simple process, but one that most home inspectors do not do (The cameras are very expensive ranging from $6,000 – $24,000). And with many bank-owned homes getting a quick paint job for a fast sale, water stains may be covered up. It is important to note that the Infrared Cameras do not see through walls, cabinets, or concrete. Rather, they show differences in the surface temperature of a material. It is these temperature differences that may indicate moisture or another anomaly such as missing insulation.

Please note that an Infrared camera is not a magic tool. It cannot determine if a leak will occur in the future if the area has had time to dry out. For example, if there has been no rain for several months, the Infrared camera will not detect moisture from a roof leak since no moisture is present. It also cannot detect moisture behind cabinets, furniture, or deep within a structure.

Thermal, or infrared energy, is the light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye. It’s the part of the light spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes, emit infrared energy. The higher the object’s temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted.

This is what most inspectors see This is what we see
Hidden plumbing leak caused by a drywall screw puncturing a pipe. This took years for the screw to rust through. Small leak noted only by the IR camera
Below is a picture of a electrical panel. No overheating observed. Once the IR camera was used, over heating was obsered to the left main panel feed. This poses a potential fire safety concern.