What is thermal imaging used for in home inspections?

By 21 February 2021July 19th, 2021Blog, Thermal Imaging

Thermal image of a house

Thermal imaging cameras translate heat into visible light to create the images. This is useful for a wide range of applications including property surveying. Thermal cameras are often used to help to detect moisture problems or insulation issues in the walls and roofs of your home.

What Can Thermal Imaging Detect?

By detecting variations in thermal energy, thermal imaging may detect:

  • Moisture in the walls and ceilings
  • Structural problems
  • Plumbing leaks
  • Roof leaks
  • Harmful insect activity
  • Energy loss (lack of insulation)
  • Electrical system defects

Property surveyors can use thermal cameras to analyze the interior cavities of walls and ceilings. They can also inspect roofing, basements, and other areas that are difficult to access or visually inspect.

Thermal images help detect areas that require repairs. By analyzing the difference in temperature between dry areas and wet areas, a thermal camera can detect the presence of mold, wood rot, or leaks.

Thermal cameras cannot “see” moisture or mold. However, moisture and mold tend to cause subtle differences in the thermal energy of materials. Moisture often spreads in recognizable patterns based on the location of the water.

When moisture leaks down from the walls, it may form an upside-down triangular shape. Flooding may cause water to wick up the walls and into the insulation. Experienced property surveyors can detect these patterns.

Property surveyors also use thermal cameras for flat roof inspections. The camera can help find the exact location of the leak, which may save the homeowner from needing to replace the roof.

Energy loss is another issue that thermal imaging surveys may uncover. Thermal cameras may detect heat loss or cold air influx, which can indicate which areas of your home are wasting the most energy.

Property surveyors may also detect issues with the electrical system in the house. Excessive currents produce abnormal heat energy, which may be due to poor electrical connections, faulty wiring, or other issues that require repair.

Why Is Thermal Imaging of Houses Important?

Thermal imaging of houses can be used to detect problems that remain hidden to the naked eye. Leaks and other issues often go unnoticed until they spread throughout the house. Detecting these issues quickly may help:

  • Reduce the extent of the damage
  • Limit the cost and inconvenience of repairs
  • Protect homebuyers from missing costly issues
  • Uncover heat loss and boost energy savings

If you have a small roof leak, water and moisture may eventually penetrate the ceiling or leak through the inside of the wall cavities. Without early detection, the moisture can cause significant water damage and promote the growth of mold.

Structural issues can also arise when moisture or water reaches the foundation of the property. Cracks may appear in the basement and areas of the home may start to shift.

While moisture problems are often caused by leaks, they can also occur due to condensation. As with sitting water, untreated condensation can cause wood rot and reduce the pull-out strength of nails, which may lead to structural problems.

When ignored, these problems can severely impact the health and safety of all occupants. Hiring a property surveyor to inspect your home with a thermal camera may help you detect and treat issues before they spread, limiting the cost of repairs.

Thermal imaging of houses is also useful for finding the source of moisture problems or insect infestations. Before tearing down the walls to deal with mold, wood rot, or insects, you can ensure that you stop the problem at its source and prevent it from recurring.

Property surveyors can also inspect properties after a mold remediation project or other repairs to verify that the building materials are dry and that the issues were resolved.

Thermal imaging inspections are beneficial for homebuyers as well. Buyers can schedule a thermal imaging survey before buying a home to detect issues that may go unnoticed with a standard home inspection. Detecting defects, energy loss, or moisture problems may help you negotiate a lower price to cover a portion of the necessary fixes.

Along with detecting moisture or insect problems, thermal surveys of houses help analyze thermal energy loss. Thermal imaging may be able to tell you why your boiler fails to properly warm your home.

The details of your thermal imaging heat loss survey can help you decide which areas to focus on.

For example, subtle variations in the heat signature of the walls can help pinpoint the areas that require more insulation. By addressing heat loss, you may dramatically cut heating and energy bills.

Conclusion

Thermal imaging has a wide range of applications and uses, including detecting unseen threats lurking behind the walls and ceilings of your home.

In the end, thermal imaging provides an efficient solution for seeing what is happening inside the walls and ceilings of a property. If you want to detect moisture issues or energy loss, consider scheduling a thermal imaging survey.