FACTS & FICTION
Infrared technology is a relatively new comer to the home inspectors tool chest and are often misrepresented wittingly or unwittingly by home inspectors causing unrealistic expectations from clients concerning the real capabilities of infrared technology.
Here are some IR facts:
- Thermal imaging cameras cannot see inside walls and ceilings. These cameras work by capturing infrared energy that all objects give off (to varying degrees) and display an image with a range of colors corresponding to temperature differential.
- Finding a temperature differential with a camera does not ensure diagnoses of the cause of the differential.
- In order for infrared cameras to provide any useful information they require a very controlled set of conditions and operating environments some of which are at least 10ﹿC (18ﹿF) temperature and difference across the building envelope to properly detect energy loss. If the inspection is conducted from the exterior of the building it should be done at night on an overcast day to avoid errors caused by solar reflection. If the inspection is conducted from inside of the building then all pictures and furnishings must be removed away from the outside walls several hours prior to the survey.
- High density materials such as brick, block, stone, metal and foil faced insulation on the walls can preclude the detection of exceptions.
- It is important that all wall surfaces be dry at the time of the infrared inspection and no appreciable precipitation should have fallen during the 24 hours prior to the infrared survey.
In order for infrared cameras to provide any useful information they require a very controlled set of conditions and operating environment, which is almost never available in the summer months during the course of a home inspection.
In the real world conditions are not as ideal as on Mike Holmes staged reality shows.
It should also be noted that most home inspection companies use cameras with a very narrow scope of field. For a home inspector to scan an entire house and interpret the pictures with such equipment is virtually impossible.
A standard pre-purchase home inspection in conformance with the Standard of Practice is a non-invasive visual inspection of the homes major systems. Therefore, the use of an IR camera is outside the scope of such an inspection. While EXCEL Inspections owns and uses an IR camera from time to time when it proves to be practical, we strongly encourage anyone desiring a whole house scan to hire a full time professional contractor.