I recently attended a home inspection conducted by Steve Lawson of Pillar To Post in which he used thermography. It was fascinating! Have a look at the pictures to see what he discovered.
While no home inspector can see what is behind a wall or ceiling, thermal imaging cameras can detect temperatures variations often due to moisture or heat related issues. On his website, Mike Holmes says, “Thermographic imaging cameras can detect serious problems the naked eye can’t see, such as:
• plumbing leaks
• air duct leaks
• moisture intrusion
• inadequate or non-existent insulation
• heating and cooling losses
• abnormal heat from an appliance or
• unwanted animals
• poor construction
I would add that there are other things that can be detected too:
• Water infiltration (roof leaks located with recent rain fall within 24~48 hours)
• Stud / Joist / Beam / Rafter placement and structure
• Insulation gaps, insufficient and unevenness
• Electrical drops, panels, breakers, switches and wire connections
• Pipe location
I asked Steve for further comments and he said, “Thermal imaging can reveal significant details that are not normally visible without destructive investigation, but it’s not X-ray vision. Sometimes a cold spot is just a cold spot.
The source can be exterior air infiltration, leaky ductwork or discharge from air register when the air conditioning is operating.
When suspected moisture or water accumulation is revealed, a second method of evaluation/verification should always be done. In home inspections, a moisture meter should always be used to verify the findings. This will reduce the risk of unnecessary work and damage to materials.
A trained thermographer will recognize the difference between water penetration and accumulation and air leaks. Also, different materials have different emissivities (appear wet or cold when they are not) and can be confused with moisture issues.
While thermal imaging is very effective for showing moisture and water issues, it is not a mould detector. It can only reveal conditions that could promote mould growth.”
Steve also added this useful point: TARION will only accept thermal images showing insulation deficiencies when a trying to resolve a dispute between a new home buyer and a builder.
It costs extra to have thermal imaging done and, you need to ensure your inspector is professionally trained in using the camera. If so, I think it is money well spent as shown in these revealing photos that Steve provided below.
Marg Scheben-Edey is a Broker with RE/MAX four seasons realty limited, Brokerage in beautiful Collingwood, ON. With three decades of experience, Marg is a leader in the local real estate marketplace and is ready to help guide both Buyers and Sellers in achieving their real estate goals. Email Marg