Infrared Thermography for Home Inspections
Updated: Aug 24, 2021
Leaking doors, Leaky roof, lack of insulation, wet spots, yes, a lot of issues become visible. At the same time, it can also provide good news regarding the current functioning of the components.
In the picture above we are inside the building looking out to see how the building envelope is performing. We will only look at the qualitative aspect, so we can ignore the temperature readings for now. Getting accurate temperature measurements is a whole different game and will leave that alone for some other time.
What we can say for our example picture is that the dark areas are cold, and the brighter areas are warm. Since there are no dark spots under the window, chances are there are no leaks letting the water into the building. (It had been raining for the last 2 days, one of the good things about buying a home in Vancouver in Winter).
Also, if you notice, the baseboard heater is not working at the moment. That was not on purpose, but an additional defect we found during the inspection. The house was pretty warm all over, so it would have been easy to miss out on a radiator not working.
In the second picture here, taken from the inside of the house looking towards the ceiling and external wall. You can see the location of wall studs very clearly as an effect of thermal bridging. It’s a fancy term for temperature transfer between material that are in contact. All the structure appears to be at a steady temperature, except for the middle of the picture that is clearly colder then the rest. That is how you suspect a water ingress.
It looks like water could be entering from the roof and pooling there. It has been raining for the last 2 days so that would make sense for the water to there. But is this picture enough to declare a water ingress issue? The diagnosis can have serious consequences regarding the potential selling value of the house. So I investigated a bit more. The spot did not feel wet to touch. The moisture meter did not register readings that agreed with water pooling for two days. So what else could be there? Missing insulation. That is the very likely reason for that cold spot in that location. Cold air coming up through the soffit vents could be causing cooling in that spot. The next step would be to enter the Attic and make your way to the spot to verify your findings.
Here we have a third picture. It is just my habit to scan the entire house after an inspection just to go over what I potentially have missed. So the door closes properly, and the weather seal appeared to be holding well. But when I scanned this, I had to investigate further what this was. It’s the cold air leaking onto the house because of damaged weather seal. I swear I looked earlier and it appeared fine. But apparently, it is torn, and the tear is not visible unless you move it.
So is this a big deal? Is this find going to influence your decision to buy this house? Very unlikely, but, it is good to know. You can ask the seller to fix this, or you can put that on your list of things you want to get to, I will present this on the report I give you.
Obviously, during a regular home inspection we do not always have the time to investigate every condition as thoroughly, but we try. I believe all home inspectors who are qualified and passionate about their work always try to present a true picture of what they see.