Infrared technology or thermography helps you spot more potential home defects than you could with just your eyes. And that makes your home inspections a better value for customers. It seems like a win / win situation, and in many ways it is. Just remember that the equipment is expensive, there’s a bit of a learning curve and it’s not an exact science.
If you approach thermography with both feet on the ground, you’ll have a good opportunity to provide a comprehensive service. And if you’re lucky, yours might be the only infrared inspection game in town. At least for a while.
Here’s what you can do using a thermal imaging camera in your inspections.
Offer an Energy Efficiency Audit or Overview
Infrared cameras use colors to indicate cooler and warmer temperatures. You’ll see the room through the camera’s viewfinder. But instead of white walls and red curtains, they’ll be transformed into colors that closely match the temperature of the object. The windows will probably be nearly blue unless the sun has warmed them up. And the walls that are really white might show up on the screen as yellow.
This is important for energy audits and energy overviews because every color difference represents a temperature fluctuation in the room. Blue windows mean that it’s colder outside than inside. And if the walls are warmer yellow, thermal transfer means that the house is likely losing heat through the glass.
An energy efficiency inspection might be more in depth than an audit or an overview, but all of these services have a place in your repertoire. The casually interested customer can learn where some of the cold and hot spots are. For someone who wants to learn more, the camera can reveal air leaks behind baseboards, lacking insulation and other broader issues. A full energy efficiency inspection is usually a separate service and one that you’ll want to study.
Identify Hidden or Potential Ice Dams
Ice dams are the bane of existence for homeowners who live in colder parts of the country. They’re an unusual phenomenon that looks much prettier than it really is. An abundance of snow along the roof edge and icicles lining the gutters mean the home’s insulation and ventilation aren’t working properly. And that’s could lead to major problems later on.
Ice dams look like Happy Holidays, but they behave like Mr. Grinch. All of the sparkling ice can ruin shingles, deform flashing and tear gutters and downspouts off the house. Not only that, falling icicles are a hazard.
A thermal imaging camera brings the home’s ice dam secrets to light. Temperature differences along the soffits and around the room edges indoors show clues of missing or inadequate insulation, poor ventilation and the propensity for creating a terrible winter wonderland.
Detect Lean Insulation Where the House Needs More
The same heat-sensing technology can also reveal pitifully thin spots of insulation inside walls and attics. This is a great tool for homeowners because it helps them locate areas that need more. In many cases, more insulation throughout the whole attic is a good idea. But if you see red patches on an attic floor, you know exactly where heat loss is happening.
Blue patches on walls can also indicate poor insulation, but small ones might point out the location of air leaks. Some fresh caulk along a section of siding trim might resolve the problem. The same applies to windows. Glass will always be colder when outdoor temperatures dip. But cold spots around the trim show a need for more insulation and probably a healthy dose of caulk.
The more that you use infrared technology, the more uses you’ll probably find for it. A radiator that doesn’t work properly can’t hide from a heat-sensing camera. An uninsulated attic door stands out long before you head upstairs. You can even spot potential problems such as a damp basement or broken section of a radiant in-floor heat system.
Temperature differences on an infrared camera can indicate many different problems inside and outside the home. Sometimes, they’re ordinary. For example, windows are often colder than walls. That’s not a defect, but it could be an energy efficiency concern. And sometimes they reveal major issues such as an ice dam.
Either way, the little camera that costs a pretty penny serves a good purpose. It makes your inspections more marketable, and it helps the customer get a more thorough picture of the house. Along with the camera, we suggest additional training in thermal imaging.
And lucky for you, ICA School now offers targeted thermal imaging training. Now is the best time ever for a career switch. Enroll now and get started on your new career today.