Should your home be inspected with infrared thermography?

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Home inspections have taken on an even more practical role in home buying with the advent of infrared thermography, or thermal imaging.  In the past, inspectors have relied heavily on visual cues to let them know if there are plumbing issues or leaks in a home.  While highly trained inspectors can detect problems way better than your average homeowner, there was always the chance that an issue "hiding" in the walls would surface after the sale was complete.  With infrared thermography, inspectors now have a camera that can detect problems not easily seen before they become a larger issue.  Though it looks like an average camcorder, a thermal imaging camera sees differences in the amount of heat held by an object.  Differences in ambient temperature show up as gradations of blue/green (colder) or red/yellow (warmer.)

Infrared thermography can be useful for both the home buyer and home owner.  For instance, if you detect a musty odor in a house or hear water dripping but do not see any sign of leakage you can "see" the surface differently with infrared thermography to help find the leak.  The system will show the temperature difference between wall and water, indicating the leak points.  Think about it; if your plumber is able to pinpoint the exact spot of the leak before water stains appears, that means fewer holes, less mess, and less money spent fixing the problem.

Water leaks are not the only problems easily found by infrared thermography.  Use of the camera can indicate areas where electrical systems are overloaded.  Age and improper installation can result in shorts, high electrical use, even fire.  Before this detection technique, a homeowner might never know there was a potential hazard until it was too late.  The hazardous areas will show up as glowing hot points on the system screen, making it easy to detect.  This method can be used both to see into walled areas, and to thoroughly inspect electrical boxes, junctures, etc.

The infrared thermography inspection does more than detect problems, it can save you money.  Insufficient insulation can cost you thousands per year in heating and cooling bills.  Scanning your home will reveal the areas around windows and doors that lose heat or improperly insulated walls and ceilings.  In addition, those cracks and crevices not only lose energy; they can allow pests into your home.  Thermal imaging can verify pest infestations of all types without having to drill or remove wood.

Infrared thermography is not a substitute for a traditional home inspection.  It is a tool that can help your home inspector verify findings, provide visual evidence of a problem, and yes, find issues that the naked eye may not see.  For homeowners who suspect an unseen leak, pest infestation, energy loss, or electrical problem, it can pinpoint the source without using invasive measures. A certified home inspector armed with traditional tools plus infrared thermography can doubly assure you that your home investment is safe and secure.

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Jill Manty has 1 articles online

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Should your home be inspected with infrared thermography?

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This article was published on 2010/12/29