Diagnosing House Issues Using Thermal Imaging Camera

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Diagnosing House Issues Using Thermal Imaging Camera

Bostonians will not soon forget the winter of 2015, the largest single season snow fall ever encountered in Boston. Many homeowners were left with substantial damage from ice dams. When assessing the impact of ice dam damage, thermal imaging cameras are incredibly useful.   These cameras virtually eliminate the need for opening inspection holes in customer walls. Cutting open walls is invasive and messy; it’s time consuming for contractors and tough on customers. In addition to protecting furniture and floors, customers have to live with the resulting holes (or rough patches) in their walls until proper repairs can be scheduled. (Of course, in some cases there is a need to make holes to allow wall cavities to begin drying out…)

Thermal imaging cameras do the job faster and provide a more complete assessment of the situation. Clear, color coded imagery helps me communicate the extent of any damage.  I use the Flir One thermal imaging camera. It attaches to my iPhone and provides crisp, accurate renderings of what’s behind the walls.

The Flir One is useful for more than water damage asssesments. It can pinpoint water leaks, electrical hot spots, rodent infestations and other issues. I often use it as tangible evidence of why customers or prospects feel cold in a particular room. It’s relatively easy to identify the problem source, be it a window draft, gaps in the wall insulation, or other reason.

Thermal imaging also helps communicate to clients how they can save on their energy bills, as its imaging capabilities allow us to identify air leaks, missing or failed insulation, and other energy thieves.  Here’s an example image:

Flir One wall image

In this color scheme, warmer objects are orange-to-red.  Cold areas are blue-violet.  The top of this wall evidences a lack of proper air sealing, often overlooked during the building process.  Note the dark round hole in the top right.  This a ceiling can, a notable source of air leakage.

If there is access from above, these fixtures can be sealed with fire-rated caulking and/or have insulation placed more carefully around them.  It is important this work only be done if the fixture is rated for insulation contact.  Otherwise, the fixture can be encapsulated with an insulated box, fitted and sealed to the ceiling with caulking (and maintaining the manufacturer’s recommendation for spacing to combustible surfaces).

Before your contractor starts opening up walls, ask them about using a thermal imaging camera.


Paul Bradley
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