Verifying heat or lack thereof:
The quickest way to verify airflow at heat registers throughout a home is to turn on the heat or AC and then run around the house with an IR camera about 10 minutes later. The image below shows a non-functional kitchen toe-kick heat register at a new construction inspection.
It’s a snap to inspect radiators with infrared cameras. When a radiator doesn’t heat up properly, part of the radiator stays cool.
Infrared cameras can be used to quickly determine whether ceiling stains are active or not. This isn’t a definitive test for moisture, but when a ceiling is all the same temperature, it’s highly unlikely that the ceiling is wet. In the image below, the stained portion of the ceiling was dry at the time of the inspection.
Collapsed glass is a condition caused by the gas between two panes of glass escaping, which pulls the two panes of glass toward each other. In extreme cases, the glass panes can actually touch each other. This is not the same thing as a failed seal. When viewed with an infrared camera, collapsed glass appears as dark blue circles or ovals in the center of the glass.
There is no other great way to inspect heated floors.
Tiled shower leaks:
We use a shower dam to test tiled showers for leaks, and we use an infrared camera below to identify the leaks before water leaks out of the ceiling… most of the time. That doesn’t always happen, as some leaks are so severe that water starts pouring out before anything becomes visible with our camera, but we catch most of them first.
Insulation problems are probably the most obvious use for an infrared camera. When insulation is missing or not installed properly, it’s quite obvious. This first image shows missing or improperly installed insulation at an attic access panel.
If a wall is not insulated, the studs will be the warmest part of the wall. The image below shows a nice comparison between an insulated and un-insulated wall.
Insulation that is missing or improperly installed is also quite easy to spot.
We don’t find a ton of electrical issues with infrared cameras, but we do find them. The image below shows a very hot main breaker; over 350 degrees! This was unquestionably a problem.
When breakers are simply warm, sometimes it’s no big deal, sometimes it is. To know the difference, one must also use an amp meter to determine whether or not the circuit is overloaded.
H.I.S. Home Inspection Services offers infrared inspections as part of our standard home inspection, as well as for single-item troubleshooting inspections. All of our home inspections come with an infrared inspection which can be used to help discover problems that wouldn’t normally be identified with the naked eye. Infrared cameras show surface temperature differences, which can give clues to a host of different problems with houses. Included below are items that infrared cameras can be used for.