Imagine if you could eliminate the guesswork of determining if moisture or water problems are lurking in the house that you’re about to buy. This would give you security and peace of mind.
You can enjoy smooth sailing when you move in, whether you are buying a condo, single-family, townhouse or multifamily home.
The traditional home inspection report only covers so much. It can identify any structural problems or potential problems with the HVAC system. It can only see what your naked eyes can see, but a thermal imaging home inspection can see undetected water leaks or other problems that a previous plumbing repair may have caused.
Thermal imaging home inspections are to resale buyers what CarFax for buyers of used cars is to car buyers. This will prevent costly problems later on and provide you with peace of mind.
This article will teach you:
- What is a thermal imaging home examination?
- How it is done
- What areas are it focusing on?
- How much it will cost and
- Whether it is worth it.
We will also discuss the differences between the 550-point inspection of a home and some important differences between South Carolina and Georgia.
What is a Thermal Imaging Home Inspection?
Thermal imaging refers to heat imaging. This is a technique that looks at both warm and cold heat signatures. The special camera used to detect infrared radiation is used for this purpose.
Our eyes only can see the rainbow’s colors, which are the colors between ultraviolet light and infrared. However, our eyes cannot see into the electromagnetic spectrum or infrared. The infrared can only see heat energy, or lack thereof.
Thermal imaging cameras can see the infrared spectrum. Infrared spectrum can reveal both warm and cold heat signatures. Red and white are the colors that make a warm-looking photo. A cold image, on the other hand, is yellowish-blue.
The cool signature of water and moisture is created when heat energy is absorbed by water. The infrared camera detects these cool signatures. We look for these cool signatures in a thermal imaging home inspection. It can indicate that there is a possible water leak somewhere.
Leakages don’t usually happen in an hour. Sometimes, it takes weeks or even months for the problem to become serious. It can cause a lot more damage than it appears. Thermal imaging inspections are used to detect hidden problems early to make repairs.
As an additional to a home inspection, a certified inspector will use a thermal camera called a FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) to perform the thermal imaging home inspection.
What is a Thermal Imaging Home Inspection?
A thermal imaging home inspection differs from a regular inspection. First, a complete home inspection must be done. The inspector then goes through the house again, conducting a separate thermal inspection. We will run gallons water through the bathtubs, sinks, and toilets of the house in preparation for the thermal inspection.
We’ll begin at the top, and work our way downwards because gravity pulls the water down. After running the water, we will first check for any signs of moisture or small leaks. We will then go to the next level and take pictures using the FLIR on a multi-story home or finished basement.
Common Areas to Check Using Thermal Imaging
We will inspect all areas we have access to during a thermal imaging home inspection. These are the areas that we pay attention to and what we search for:
We will start at the top by inspecting the ceilings of the upper floors, the knee walls and any other areas that could have roof leaks. Next we will examine skylights, vents, and other potential leaks.
It is important to remember that our FLIR camera will be used to inspect ceilings below fixtures or appliances that use water.
Thermal imaging in calgary detects any penetrations into the exterior walls, doors and windows. The next step is to take pictures around the windows. This will show us where the chimney meets with the wall, and the exterior roofline. We want to see if flashing or caulking is required.
Plumbing Fixtures and Surrounding Areas
We’ll be looking at the plumbing fixtures, cabinets, floors and areas around appliances and fixtures. These include:
- Sinks and the skink base
- Ice makers
- Bathtubs and shower units
- Supply lines and more
We finally reach the lowest point of our house, the basement, crawlspaces and the foundation. Our thermal imaging camera is always with us, and it will tell you the story of where it finds.
Example Results from a Thermal Imaging Home Inspection
These four examples will give you an idea how thermal imaging works to detect hidden moisture issues.
Moisture is detected at the junction of a chimney and the roofline
The inspection revealed that everything was normal. However, thermal imaging detected a wet spot, likely due to flashing that had been lost. This, like in many other cases, would have been missed by a regular inspection. The homeowner could have suffered future damages of thousands of dollars without the thermal inspection.
Intrusion into foundation water
An anomaly was discovered where the basement’s floor meets the wall in this modern cinderblock building. The left picture looks normal. However, thermal imaging revealed a darker color at the base of the wall where it meets the floor.
We were prompted to inspect the area with a moisture monitor (as we do every day). It was found that the area had a high level of moisture.
Hidden plumbing leaks
The photo shows the area where the seller repaired the leaky toilet in the laundry room. Everything looked normal after they had refinished and patched the ceiling. Our thermal imaging camera showed a different story. The dark blue area shows moisture buildup, but not enough to cause paint to turn yellow.
A condo bathroom leak
You will want to find out if there are any hidden leaks from the condo unit. A bathtub leakage from the condo unit above was not visible. Thermal imaging and moisture meters revealed that the bathtub above was leaking into the bathroom ceiling below.
Example of a Thermal Imaging Report
A thermal imaging inspection report can be obtained from Home-Probe. It is an additional report to the primary inspection. The report is usually delivered to the homebuyer the next morning as a second report.
The main home inspection report is similar to a thermal imaging report. The report will also contain the key factors section, details the anomalies. These are important issues that must be dealt with quickly.
These anomalies might not be a major problem. They should be called out immediately so that they can be addressed before they become a more expensive repair problem. They will be displayed with photos and commentary in the area sections.
Most anomalies involving walls and ceilings have been found in the interior section. The structure section will likely show any deviations where observed water seepage or weeping.
You can expect to see representative images of normal conditions and thermal imaging photos showing anomalies. These images are intended to provide homebuyers with assurance and confirm that a thorough inspection was performed.
Is it worth the investment to have a thermal imaging home inspection?
Home-Probe charges $265 for a thermal imaging home inspection and the standard home inspection. Is it worth the extra $265?
A thermal inspection can eliminate surprises and reduce risks. You can rest assured that there will be no surprises and that the cost of fixing them is minimal compared to having to pay thousands of dollars to fix undiscovered water problems.
According to research, the average cost of bathroom leak damage is over one thousand dollars. Additionally, repair costs can run into the thousands. It’s worth spending $265 to catch these leaks before they become costly.
Knowing that there are no anomalies is a valuable assurance.
There are differences between South Carolina and Georgia for thermal imaging home inspections
South Carolina homebuyers may not be aware of differences in soil and construction. There is more water in South Carolina and Georgia than in other states. Houses are also built differently.
Most basements in South Africa are underground only on one or two sides. These basements cut into hills have a higher risk of water leakage. This is why thermal inspections are recommended.
Georgia’s clay soil also holds water close to the foundation. This can lead to water seepage below and into the foundation.
Which certifications or training are required to conduct a thermal imaging home inspection?
Anyone can purchase a FLIR thermal imaging camera. However, not everyone will be able to use it properly or interpret the results. You don’t need specialized training.
The Home-Probe team of thermal imaging inspectors has undergone training and certification.
Level I Certified Thermographer
Tom Lloyd is a Level I Certified Home-Probe Thermographer. The Infrared Training Center offered a four-day intensive course.
Training in Thermal Imaging Training at Your House
Tom used the knowledge he gained in level one and combined it with additional classes offered remotely by FLIR. He developed a training program for Home-Probe inspectors, including requirements and standards.
After the bookwork is completed, inspectors spend several days on the field. Field training includes:
- The FLIR camera is used for this purpose.
- Look for anomalies
- Learn how to manage them.
After the hands-on training, writing and reviewing reports are followed. Reports are then pulled from the field randomly and reviewed for quality control. We are always learning and our training program is extensive.
It is important to note that not all anomalies are moisture or hidden water leaks. Our inspectors are not limited to looking at the images for anomalies. They will also try to understand what they see and, if necessary, eliminate them from the report.
Homebuyers can leverage a thermal imaging home inspection to gain more information than what the eye can see. This add-on service provides security and peace of mind in a time of intense excitement.