Although thermal imaging goes beyond the SOP for a general home inspection, using a visual thermal imaging scan may help your inspector detect small anomalies related to heat, whether they be too hot or too cold, such as:
- Plumbing leaks or clogs — Using infrared imaging, inspectors might be able to spot the location of a clog or leak before the homeowner or plumber knocks holes in walls to find it.
- Water damage — The thermal imaging scan should reveal a temperature difference between wet and dry areas in a home’s walls, ceilings, and floors. This is because moisture adds thermal mass to an area, causing it to hold onto heat longer than its drier surroundings.
- Suspected plumbing leaks, moisture intrusion or water damage will also be verified by a moisture meter to determine accuracy of the scan. A thermal imaging device is not a moisture meter. A thermal imaging camera will detect the heat from excess moisture in an area, but your inspector will confirm those results using a non-penetrating moisture meter.
- Missing or damaged insulation — Since insulation’s role is to insulate heat in the home, a thermal scan should show any spots where the material is missing or no longer doing its job.
- Electrical issues — An infrared scan can help locate hotspots indicating overloaded circuits, old circuit breakers, electrical faults, and overheated electrical equipment.
IMPORTANT LIMITATION NOTE: It should be noted that thermal imaging may not reveal all potential anomalies related to the limited thermal scan performed, and DOES NOT allow your inspector to “see through walls.” That’s because even though thermal imaging technology feels like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, it’s important to remember that thermal imaging is not the same as x-ray vision. It’s a visual, surface-level inspection that simply translates heat into the visible spectrum.
Thermal imaging helps us to get an idea of unseen issues; however, the only issues that may show up are ones that relate to heat discrepancies. It should be noted, that a thermal imaging scan isn’t a catch-all and shouldn’t be treated as such.