Homebuying is a time-consuming process and a considerable investment, so having the property inspected by a professional is necessary before making a final decision. Many inspection companies are now using infrared cameras to uncover hidden issues and concerns in a property. Here are a few of the uses of thermal imaging in home inspection.
What is Thermal Imaging?
Thermal imaging is a non-invasive method to find issues the naked eye can’t see. Inspectors collect thermal images using an infrared (IR) camera. The camera captures photographs that illustrate surface temperatures and detect thermal anomalies. These heat signatures can indicate issues in the home, such as leaks, electrical issues, or inadequate insulation. An infrared scan is sometimes included with a home inspection because it can detect problems that a standard home inspection would not reveal.
What Does Thermal Imaging Reveal in Home Inspection?
Leaks and Water Issues
Puddles or dark stains are obvious signs of leaks or water damage, but thermal imaging can detect moisture problems before they progress to this point. Damp areas appear as darker colors to indicate cooler temperatures on a thermal image. If these spots are in unexpected places, such as behind walls, their detection can help the inspector discover hidden issues, such as a burst plumbing pipe or roofing leaks.
Inadequate Insulation in the Home
Because thermal imaging reads temperatures, an infrared camera can “see” areas of missing insulation. These spots will appear in different shades than the surrounding areas and indicate areas of energy inefficiency. A home inspector skilled in interpreting infrared images can determine if there is a problem with the home’s insulation.
Your home inspector can also detect electrical problems using thermal images. A scan of the breaker box may show a drastic color difference, indicating issues like an overloaded circuit or breakers that need to be replaced. Infrared imaging can reveal hot spots in wiring and overheating electrical outlets. Electrical problems are potential safety hazards, so identifying and fixing these concerns can prevent injury or property damage.
Limits of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspection
Thermal imaging can signal issues like those mentioned above to a home inspector, but the camera cannot diagnose the underlying problem. Their results will need to be interpreted by an expert, so it’s essential to hire a home inspector knowledgeable of all the home’s major systems. Equally important, the inspector should be trained with the infrared camera to identify any measurement errors or “false positives” that may show up on the scan.
When hiring a home inspector, ask if the company uses thermal imaging during the inspection. You’ll receive a more thorough report on the condition of the property.