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We offer infrared inspections as an optional add-on service to our standard home inspection and as a troubleshooting tool for single-item inspections. Infrared inspections are done with a thermal camera, which shows surface temperature differences, which can give clues to a host of different problems with houses. Included below are some items that we’ve used infrared cameras for.

Roof Leaks

With all of the ice dam inspections we’ve done, we’ve found a lot of roofs leaking during the winter. For each photo in the series below, we created a duplicate of the original image, then overlaid a thermal image on top of the original. It’s pretty easy to identify the wet areas in the thermal images, but they’re not apparent in the original photos. The homes shown below had roof leaks from ice dams.

IR image - leak from ice dam 1

IR Image - water leak 5

IR image - leak from ice dam 2

IR Image - water leak 8

IR image - leak from ice dam 1

IR Image - water leak 10

Hot Spots In Attics

Warm attics cause snow to melt, which is what causes ice dams. We’ve found an infrared camera to be invaluable while troubleshooting the causes of ice dams and frost in attics.

The photo below shows a warm spot in an attic that we never would have identified without an infrared camera. The culprit was a flush-mounted light fixture with light bulbs that had too high of a wattage. We don’t make a habit of taking apart light fixtures to check the wattage on light bulbs, but we’ll do it if something tips us off.

hot light in attic

Uninsulated ductwork in an attic is also a problem; the heat loss is quite obvious with an infrared camera. The photo below came from an attic with an insulation value of R-60. Who would have thought it?

Uninsulated ductwork in attic

Recessed lights are a huge contributor to warm attics, whether they’re airtight or not.

Recessed light in attic

Improper Insulation

This is one of the most obvious uses for an infrared camera. The photo below shows an attic access panel that wasn’t properly insulated.

Missing insulation at attic scuttle hole cover

This next image shows an interior wall that was very cold, because there was a missing section of insulation in the attic behind this wall.

Missing insulation at interior wall

The photo below shows the same section of wall, as seen from inside the attic.

Missing insulation

In the photo below, there is an obvious cold spot where the insulation was missed or improperly installed.

Missing insulation at cathedral ceiling

When a wall or ceiling is completely missing insulation, the framing members appear as the warm images. The image below shows a home with insulation in the wall, but no insulation in the ceiling.

No insulation at ceiling

Heating Systems

If a radiator doesn’t heat up properly, it will be quite obvious with an infrared camera. The photo below shows a radiator working properly.

Hot radiator

The image below shows a radiator not heating up properly.

IR Image - Radiator not heating properly

If there are voids or leaks in heating tubes for in-floor, in-wall, or in-ceiling heat, an infrared camera will probably find them. The photo below shows an inconsequential gap in the tubing at this heated ceiling.

heated ceiling

Heated floors can be easily inspected with an IR camera.

Heated Garage floor

The portions of floors that aren’t heated will be obvious as well.

Partially heated bathroom floor

Leaking Showers

We use infrared cameras to help identify leaking tiled showers. As mentioned in our blog post about shower leaks, we test tiled showers by flooding the shower base with about 2? of water, and then letting the water sit in the shower for about 45 minutes to an hour. If the tiled shower base leaks, water will show up on the ceiling below.

Through the diligent use of an infrared camera, we can almost always identify these leaks before they stain the ceiling below. The images below show a few examples of tiled shower leaks identified with infrared cameras during home inspections. Of course, we always verify these leaks with a moisture meter before reporting them as leaks. Cold spots in ceilings aren’t always leaks.

Tiled shower leak 1

Tiled shower leak 2

Tiled shower leak 3

Wet Basements

We shared this photo in a blog post about not connecting downspouts directly to yard drains, but here it is again. The blue area is wet.

Wet basement from downspout blockage

It’s one thing to say there’s moisture intrusion in a basement, but having an infrared image that shows the area that’s wet really helps to tell the story.

Electrical Problems

Scanning electric panels with an infrared camera can easily identify overheated conductors or circuit breakers. The panel shown below had an overheated neutral wire, which I suspect was the result of a loose connection; there were two neutrals connected to a single lug.

Overheated Neutral

For the record, only one neutral wire is allowed at each lug.

Random Surprises

We may have never found this hidden floor register without the use of an IR camera. This was a new construction home where the carpet installers apparently went a little too fast.

Hidden floor register