Thermal imaging is a technique for producing a visible image of infrared energy that is emitted from an object. Depending on the internal and external conditions, all objects exist at a certain temperature level. Infrared thermal imaging can detect areas of heat loss or areas with an abnormally high temperature around your home that can’t be seen by the unaided eye. Electrical, mechanical, and structural systems can benefit from infrared thermal imaging in home inspections to detect problem areas before they become more serious.
What Does Thermal Imaging Do?
For example, thermal imaging might pick up an area considered an abnormal “hot spot.” This usually means that there is high electrical resistance or friction. Infrared thermal imaging in home inspections can help detect hot spots, which otherwise couldn’t be viewed during an unaided, non-invasive home inspection. Thermal imaging is often used to find areas of excessive moisture and heat loss as well. It is a very helpful tool for home inspectors when determining the condition of a structure.
Thermal Imaging Cameras
The typical thermographic camera resembles a camcorder or a large camera. The thermal imaging camera produces a grayscale image, which is then transformed into a color image that helps us better understand the temperatures that we’re looking at in the picture. The actual image is called a thermogram. The cameras do not “see” temperatures; they detect infrared radiation. All objects radiate at an infrared level; you do not need to be afraid that the thermographic camera is going to be releasing any sort of radiation into your home. Infrared thermography measures heat; you need no light whatsoever to use an infrared camera.
Can an Infrared Camera See Through Walls?
Thermal imaging doesn’t mean that you can see through walls. The camera will see the heat, so a skilled home inspector will be able to understand what the patterns coming through the walls mean in terms of their heat variation.
How Can Infrared Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections Be Useful?
There is a vast list of uses for infrared thermography, but our concentration here is on using infrared thermal imaging in home inspections. Thermography can be applied in any situation where a problem or a condition releases heat or has a difference in heat signature. Thermal imaging might be able to detect a hotspot on a roof or a ceiling and cooler spots that reveal there are insulation issues. An electrical panel might show as too hot, meaning that an electrician should determine whether the circuit is overloaded or the wiring is loose. Infrared thermal imaging can also pick up on areas of moisture intrusion, which could be caused by anything from a leak to a mold infestation.
While thermal imaging won’t allow your home inspector to “see” through walls, it is a useful tool that increases your home inspector’s ability to detect areas of concern within a home. Step by Step Inspections includes thermal imaging in home inspections at no extra charge for buyers and sellers, or you can add a thermal imaging scan to any of our other services. Contact us today to schedule your inspection!