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How does infrared work?

All objects give off heat in the form of thermal radiation.  At normal temperatures the thermal energy emitted by a body is not visible because most of the energy is concentrated in the infrared spectrum.  At higher temperatures there is enough energy given off in the visible spectrum that the object glows.  Infrared imagers ‘see’ the heat radiated  from the surfaces of objects such as the surfaces in your building in real time, just like a video camera sees visible light.  The imager is useful for detecting improperly installed insulation, air leakage, and moisture intrusion.

What is the difference between an infrared survey and an inspection?

An infrared survey is performed as an optional part of a home inspection. Please click on the following link to see a sample report of an infrared survey, (Infrared Report). Infrared can be used to verify that in-floor radiant heating systems are circulating properly; to identify unusual air leakage points; and to check the distribution of the insulation.  It is also a valuable tool for locating areas of moisture intrusion before they become visible.  An infrared inspection is carried out with much more detail and is commonly used when a specific problem needs to be located.

What will an infrared camera not do?

An infrared camera is an amazing technical marvel, but all it can do is register patterns of heat on a surface.  It does not see anything beyond the surface like an x-ray.  The framing structure, insulation distribution, and other interior features of a building element cannot be directly evaluated.  A skilled thermographer can interpret the results to identify many concerns, but the camera can only infer construction defects.