Savvy home buyers know the power of an expert opinion. Whether you’re buying your first home or your fifth, surrounding yourself with knowledgeable insiders can give you a serious advantage in the purchasing process. Just as you shouldn’t skimp on the insight of a trusted tax advisor in April, it’s important to consult with experienced professionals when buying a house. In today’s blog post, we’ll explore the world of thermal imaging with two industry experts.
The Power of Infrared
Moisture is the enemy of homeowners everywhere. When a house is not properly ventilated, moisture can wreak havoc on structural elements and electrical systems. Mold may grow, foundations may crack and insulation may degrade. It’s no wonder so many home buyers are eager to harness the power of infrared technology.
“One of the best uses for an infrared camera during a home inspection is moisture detection,” says Crawford Parrish of Parrish Home Inspection, LLC.
“As water evaporates (as it converts from a liquid to a gas), it has a cool heat signature. Because water tends to travel along the path of least resistance – which may not be exposed or visible during the inspection – the saturated path produces a different color in the infrared image than the surrounding dry areas,” Parrish says.
“Plumbing leaks, roof leaks and condensation leaks can be some of the costliest repairs when the issues are not identified and repaired quickly. Infrared thermography can help quickly identify issues that may have otherwise been concealed. Infrared imaging can also help identify energy inefficiencies in a home, like leaky heating/cooling ducts, poor window and door seals and insufficient or ineffective insulation.”
How Thermal Imaging Works
When you request thermal imaging from your home inspector, they’ll break out the big guns, says Brett Elron of BarterDesign.co. “Thermal imaging is conducted with high-tech thermal detecting camera equipment which can differentiate minute changes in temperature in an environment.”
“The thermal camera is an essential component of a home inspection because
it marks the defective area in the image during thermal imaging,” adds Robin Lo, Sales Manager at Dongguan Roche Industrial Co., LTD.
“During home inspections, most of the time, we come across issues that are tough to spot with the naked eye. This technology uncovers hidden issues at an early stage in minimal zero to minimal downtime. Thermographers can inspect the plant or equipment while it is fully operational,” Lo says.
This powerful technology is a great addition to the visual inspection your home inspector will conduct. If you’ve ever dreamed of harnessing X-RAY vision superpowers, thermal imaging is about as close as you can get. Of course, the power of thermal imaging lies not with the technology but with the expert interpreting results of the scan. Heat can reflect and limit the reading of certain surfaces, so it’s best to leave thermal imaging up to the professionals.
Moisture is just one of the most common defects found using infrared thermal imaging. Electrical faults are also frequently uncovered in the process.
“While inspecting electrical equipment or circuit, thermal cameras show affected areas in yellow marks,” says Lo. This highlight effect makes it easy to identify and fix potentially dangerous electrical issues.
Roofing leaks are also easier to spot with thermal imaging. When performed at night when temperatures outside have begun to fall, thermal imaging can reveal the purple or blue of a cooling roof. Areas containing moisture from leaks will light up red or orange, since water will retain the warmth of the day.
Locating the source of such issues can give home buyers the insight they need when negotiating an appropriate sale price. In some cases, buyers may extend an offer conditional upon repairs being made before closing.
Considerations for Home Buyers
While not strictly required, infrared thermal imaging can provide vital information for home buyers curious about the condition of a property. When you’re purchasing your dream home, you want to have confidence in your investment. Thermal imaging can help you anticipate any potential problems and give you the space to decide if they’re worth solving.
Of course, thermal imaging isn’t magic. Infrared cameras are simply diagnostic tools that provide useful information for inspectors and homeowners. Inexperienced operators may not have the skill necessary to leverage the information revealed by such a tool. Before you decide to invest in thermal imaging for your home, ask your home inspector about their background, education and experience level. If they’re not specifically trained in thermal imaging, you may want to hire another more experienced professional.
Thermal Imaging Training for Home Inspectors
If you’re a home inspector searching for thermal imaging resources, ICA has what you’re looking for. Our bonus courses on topics including thermal imaging are included free for every ICA student who registers for our home inspection training program. Learn more about our offerings and enroll now!