Faulty Breaker / Bus Connection in New Houston Condo

This is an electrical panel in a brand new Houston area condo with a faulty breaker/bus connection. It was located during an infrared thermal inspection that was performed as an optional part of a Houston home inspection. If the outside of the breaker shows a 200+F° rise, just imagine how hot it is at the internal connection. This Delta-T rates as a Critical exception on the interNational Electrical Testing Association (NETA) scale.


Every new home comes with built-in defects. Don’t let anyone tell you that a new home does not need an independent home inspection or that performing an infrared thermography inspection on electrical systems in new construction is a waste of time. The only way to locate and quantify this particular electrical defect is through the use of infrared thermography.

Choose a qualified, professional thermographer who is trained and certified in compliance with SNT-TC-1A.

Nice find, Chuck. I enjoy the digital image, too, because it often looks so quiet.

good find. I do have a question though as I have not yet taken my thermography course(next month). Would a laser thermometer not have picked this up as well. Only asking to verify.

Did you try toasting some marsh mellows on that hot spot.
Yes it would Greg!

I would have found this 40 years ago long before IR or thermometers .
we used the Back of our Fingers and could tell when a motor was over heating with the count to ten rule .
If I could keep my hand on a motor and count to ten it was OK .
Some motors we learned to count real fast … Roy

Thanks for the info guys

A laser thermometer is actually a point radiometer. It has a single sensor compared to the 76,800 sensors of a 320x240 focal plane array infrared imaging radiometer.

You can tell that there is a hot spot in the panel but you cannot pinpoint the issue or quantify it. You must also get extremely close to the equipment to even determine that there is something hot. If the source is small, you may not be able to pick it up at all.

NFPA 70B endorses the use of infrared inspection of electrical components, not laser thermometer or back of your hand inspection. If you notice, it’s actually the top of the breaker that is the hotspot in the image. You would have to have your hand awfully close to the ungrounded bus to finger test it.

Chuck, I do agree that IR is the way to go. I was only asking if it could be found in another way. Knowledge is power.

The short answer is yes, with limitations. Certainly better than not checking.

And how would you have found this 40 years ago .
Can you show me where in the SOP we are to have an IR camera…

Can’t wait to get certified this month, This kind of thing intrigues me. I am a new inspector who want to learn as much as opssible about IR inspections.

It probably would have been discovered after it failed or after it persisted long enough to manifest visible damage.

Infrared inspections are not part of the Home Inspection SOP. I never claimed or implied that they were.

If you read the other discussions on the subject, it would be clear to you that I consider and treat infrared inspections separate from a visual home inspection. The SOP defines the home inspection, while other standards address the infrared inspection processes. There are synergies between the two that make them advantageous to do at the same time, but I consider them to be separate services.

I don’t remember seeing you in class. I’m sure we went to the same school, 'cuz that’s the way I learned it–and apply the principle today… sometimes.

I think 40 years ago I looked just a little different Had Hair no glasses and was looking at the Girl’s so I expect I missed you .Sorry… Roy… ( Please do not tell Char)

Ya see guys I used to use the back of my hand also but we also drove a team of horse pulling a wagon to town for groceries

I find a few my self hey chuck was ya image a little fuzzy did ya shoot it with glasses or without:D:D:p:p

Nice pictures Charlie. Did Vi take them for you?

I take take the pictures Vie takes the images how did ya know;-)

Nice Shots Charley -

Is that the new Flir i3 they talk about??

No Dan I use the T360 Flir its the same as the 400 except without Video