Thermal imaging is a great tool to use for a Gainesville home inspection to look for anomalies that cannot be easily identified by a visual only assessment. Thermal cameras use color schemes to show differences in the surface temperatures of materials and objects they the sensors are pointed at. Using this technology, areas can be identified that have temperature anomalies that are commonly associated with water and air issues. Localized issues have commonly been identified using thermal imaging that were not able to be seen visually due to a variety of reasons. For example, we inspected a town home last year that had recently been renovated. After completing our visual assessment, we ran thermal imaging and was able to see an anomaly on the living room ceiling. Further investigation revealed the bathroom toilet on the second floor was leaking to the ceiling below. The area was not visibly damaged and without thermal imaging, we would not have seen this issue. Here are some of the most significant areas we use thermal imaging on our Gainesville area home inspections.
Inspection of electrical panels and systems can be very hazardous to inspectors. High voltage electricity can cause significant injury and death. Thermal imaging has aided in making electrical inspections safer by being able to observe temperature anomalies in electrical panels. Overheating breakers are a common as well as overheating conductors. Electrical components have temperature rating. For example, modern conductors are rated to 90 C. Overheating can result in damage and/or electrical fires. Using thermal imaging, we can safely inspect these systems for overheating.
HVAC System Assessments and Ductwork
Thermal imaging on a Gainesville home inspection is very useful for HVAC systems. All exposed ductwork is scanned with a thermal camera to identify areas where conditioned air is leaking out of the ductwork. This is common at deteriorated seams in plenums. Further, thermal imaging can also be used to show where a builder or remodeler did not cut the drywall for a supply grill. These locations show up as hot or cold spots on walls or ceilings. While it is uncommon to find a missing supply duct not opened, it has happened and the mixture of cool, conditioned air in hot, humid attics has been known to result in microbial growth. In the image below we identified a section of ductwork that was damaged and leaking conditioned air in the attic space directly above the ceiling.
Plumbing and Leak Assessments
One of the major benefits to thermal imaging during a home inspection is the identification of water issues. Water that is currently leaking will quickly show up on a thermal camera because fo the rapid heating or cooling of the materials the water is in contact with. In-wall plumbing leaks, water heater leaks, plumbing supply, fixture, or drain leaks under sinks are all common finds with thermal imaging. While some of these issues can be identified visually, we’ve found leaks on downstairs ceilings more than once that were not visually evident.
Roof Leak Assessments
As we all know, old roofs can leak. One of the best times to perform a thermal imaging assessment of ceiling and attic areas is right after a strong rain event. Much like for plumbing, water from rook leaks will show up on a thermal camera quickly if recent. These assessment are beneficial when there are high ceilings, attic spaces, and areas where roof slopes meet walls (common areas for water intrusion).
Energy Efficiency Assessments
Energy efficiency standards have continued to increase of the years. Using thermal imaging, we can detect locations where exterior air is leaking into the home. Areas around windows and doors are common for drafts. Further, missing insulation over attic access covers and walls and ceilings will commonly display on a thermal camera. Since insulation can be difficult to see visually, especially in walls, using thermal can be very beneficial. Thermal camera are a key tool to performing a home energy audit!
Greenwood Building Inspection & Consulting uses thermal imaging cameras on all our advanced inspection packages. We’ve found significant benefit to Gainesville homebuyers when using thermal imaging for their home inspections. If you’re looking for a home inspection, be sure to ask your inspector if they use thermal imaging and what they commonly look for during a home inspection.
Choosing a home inspector when you purchase a new home in the Gainesville, Florida area can be overwhelming. Requesting a home inspector that will use thermal imaging as a part of an inspection of your Gainesville home and help you have more confidence in your home buying process. Be sure to discuss with your realtor your desire to have thermal imaging included in your inspection by an inspector that is properly certified in the use of thermal cameras.