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Ever Wish You Could See Behind Walls?

Posted by Sherry Rioux on November 23, 2015
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I recently attended a home inspection conducted by Steve Lawson of Pillar To Post in which he used thermography. It was fascinating! Have a look at the pictures to see what he discovered.

No insulation in the wall

No insulation in the wall

While no home inspector can see what is behind a wall or ceiling, thermal imaging cameras can detect temperatures variations often due to moisture or heat related issues. On his website, Mike Holmes says, “Thermographic imaging cameras can detect serious problems the naked eye can’t see, such as:

infloor heating

In-floor heating

• plumbing leaks
• air duct leaks
• moisture intrusion
• inadequate or non-existent insulation
• heating and cooling losses
• abnormal heat from an appliance or
electrical system
• unwanted animals
• poor construction

I would add that there are other things that can be detected too:

• Water infiltration (roof leaks located with recent rain fall within 24~48 hours)
• Stud / Joist / Beam / Rafter placement and structure
• Insulation gaps, insufficient and unevenness
• Electrical drops, panels, breakers, switches and wire connections
• Pipe location

I asked Steve for further comments and he said, “Thermal imaging can reveal significant details that are not normally visible without destructive investigation, but it’s not X-ray vision. Sometimes a cold spot is just a cold spot.

The source can be exterior air infiltration, leaky ductwork or discharge from air register when the air conditioning is operating.

When suspected moisture or water accumulation is revealed, a second method of evaluation/verification should always be done. In home inspections, a moisture meter should always be used to verify the findings. This will reduce the risk of unnecessary work and damage to materials.

A trained thermographer will recognize the difference between water penetration and accumulation and air leaks. Also, different materials have different emissivities (appear wet or cold when they are not) and can be confused with moisture issues.

While thermal imaging is very effective for showing moisture and water issues, it is not a mould detector. It can only reveal conditions that could promote mould growth.”

Steve also added this useful point: TARION will only accept thermal images showing insulation deficiencies when a trying to resolve a dispute between a new home buyer and a builder.

It costs extra to have thermal imaging done and, you need to ensure your inspector is professionally trained in using the camera. If so, I think it is money well spent as shown in these revealing photos that Steve provided below.

Air infiltration around a ceiling potlight

Air leaks from ductwork

Air leaks from ductwork

Infilled window framing

Infilled window framing

Water leaks from a second floor toilet

Water leaks from a second floor toilet

Air infiltration

Air infiltration

 

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