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Ask the Expert: Home Inspections and Infared Thermal Imagers

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Today’s ‘Ask the Expert’ column features Trevor Welby-Solomon, Vice President/Technical Services & Support for Pillar To Post Professional Home Inspection.

Q: What role does an infrared thermal imager play in a home inspection?

A: The use of an infrared thermal imager as an additional tool on a home inspection can provide useful information not readily available by simple observation. The home inspector must, however, have a Standard of Practice indicating where—and how—the imager will be used during the course of the home inspection. Without a written standard and protocol and a method of secondary validation of the anomalies presented by the imager, the tool will be of little use.

Pillar To Post has a published Standard of Practice for the use of an infrared thermal imager on a home inspection and clients are provided with a copy so that they are clearly aware of how the imager will be used on site and which areas will be scanned for anomalies. Fundamentally, the focus is on two fronts: water and electrical safety.

A scan is performed of the interior areas where water is commonly used and where plumbing and drainage are present. The purpose is to detect leaks that have not manifested themselves visually and, therefore, cannot be picked up by pure observation alone. The anomaly is then confirmed by a secondary means such as a moisture meter. The inspector can then step back and image the adjacent area in an attempt to quantify the size of the affected area and also possibly detect the source of the problem. This can be included directly into the inspection report as a thermal image with the area clearly defined.

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