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Thermal Imaging and Home Inspections: At Morgan Inspection Services, we use an infrared camera on all of our home inspections to help us to see things that otherwise might be invisible. What exactly is an infrared camera and what does it do? Infrared is part of the non-visible wavelength of light. Heat creates infrared energy. So basically, an infrared camera is a camera that can see heat (and cold). Infrared cameras, or thermal imaging, sees heat differences, and these heat differences are often clues to hidden problems. A home inspector who is also a Certified Residential Thermographer can use an infrared camera to look for thermal anomalies (indications of hot or cold areas that look a little out of the ordinary.) Since water cools as it evaporates, it produces a very obvious cold spot. Likewise, the flow of electricity heats up wires, switches, connections, appliances, etc. This is normal. But if there is a damaged or loose electrical connection, then that connection will most likely be hotter than the rest of the area, and will stand out as a hot spot to a thermal camera.

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    To show how sensitive the camera is, the photo above is a picture of a wall after putting my hand on it for about two seconds. 
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    The photo above shows a thermal photo of the recliner where I was sitting to write this blog

     

Important’s of Thermal Imaging and Home Inspections

A thermal camera is NOT x-ray vision. It does not see through walls, ceilings or anything else. All it can do is look at the temperature (or heat signature) of whatever is in front of the camera. Having said this, if there is water or a wet spot in a wall, or an electrical issue in a wall that makes the visible part of the wall colder or warmer than the rest of the wall, then the thermal camera will be able to see it. Sometimes what the camera sees are serious issues that would not be discovered without the use of a thermal camera – at least not until the damage gets worse and more costly to repair, and finally becomes visible inside the home.

 

Here are some examples of things that we and other inspectors have found with thermal imaging

bedroom wall

A normal looking bedroom wall.

With thermal imaging, it was very apparent that the shower on the other side of this wall was leaking into the wall.

normal breaker box- thermal imaging
thermal imaging

What you would see – a normal looking breaker.

With a thermal camera, it was apparent that one of the connections was overheating and needed to be addressed.

normal roof-
thermal imaging

This is what it looks like to the normal eye.

With a thermal camera, we can see that water has gotten behind the siding because no kickout flashing was installed.

In each of the cases shown above, none of these problems would have been identified during the course of a normal home inspection without the use of thermal imaging. While thermal imaging is not a guarantee that all such issues will be discovered, it will give your inspector a much greater chance of identifying such issues during your home inspection. We have been performing home inspections in Brownwood TX, Abilene TX, and San Angelo TX since 2002. All of our inspections include thermal imaging. We also perform septic system, well system, and pool inspections in Brownwood, Abilene, and San Angelo.


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