Found with thermal

I thought it might be fun and helpful for us to share IR photos that led us to discover and/or confirm problems in a home. Ideally, each photo should show some kind of temperature anomaly, the hypothetical cause, and how that hypothesis was proven, or as importantly, dis-proven, and how it was covered in the report.

I’ll start with this one from a recent inspection.

These photos show with what appear to me to be “trails” in the thermal signature. Having seen this pattern in attics that had rodent droppings, my hypothesis was that there was a past or present rodent infestation.

In the attic I found the areas above had insulation packed down in “trails”, consistent with the patterns found when rodents have been moving about. I also observed a few rodent pellets. I did not excavate.

All that was enough for me to state that there was a past or present rodent infestation, but the tenant overheard me talking to the buyer about what I had found and he piped up “yeah, I hear things moving around up there, but I’ve never seen anything”. That pretty well cinched it.

Final determination was, based on thermal patterns, packed-down insulation, observed rodent feces, and statements by the tenant, that there is an active rodent infestation and a professional exterminator needs to be called in.




Why would the trials be hot?
I don’t think what you are seeing are from rodents…

Where are the associated digital pics?

Trails would show as an elevated/cooler temperature (depending on season) due to decrease/disruption in insulation allowing attic temp to show in house

Compressed insulation (observed and verified) increased density which increases thermal conductance. It is summertime in Texas!

Hay Jeff! Long time since we worked together! Hope all is well in AZ.

Good to see your still at it.

Good job, with a good follow-up!
This is how you do it folks. The Thermal Camera is only as good as your investigative technique.

Seeing a blue spot, using a moisture meter, and calling it water is NOT good technique. We see this all the time. The blue spot may not be the result of a water leak. It could be the source. Do you know how to tell?

This scan is a 1st floor den ceiling. Plumbing fixtures located on the 2nd floor above. No moisture staining visible on the ceiling. No access to the ceiling from above. Pin moisture meter indicates elevated moisture levels.

Is this a water leak and what is the source that requires repair? This will require invasive access so you better be right…

Do you trust your moisture meter?

How can you verify the moisture source before you open the ceiling?

Jeffrey’s answer would be mine: Trails would show as an elevated/cooler temperature (depending on season) due to decrease/disruption in insulation allowing attic temp to show in house.

Heat in the attic transmits more easily through packed-down insulation than non-compressed insulation. When rodents burrow into the insulation, they create voids which allows hot air to come in contact with the ceiling drywall. If not rodents, then what? I can think of nothing else that would create the trails I am seeing.

Also, every time I have seen these patterns, I have found other evidence of rodent infestation.

I use a pin and pinless meter, depending on the situation. Testing them on known dry and moist samples gives me confidence they are not misleading me.

In trapped ceilings, invasion is really the only way to verify the source. Fortunately, borescopes can cut down on the level of invasiveness, but that’s for someone else to mess with.

Great responses from everyone. IR comes with a lot of challenges, and I need to constantly question my assumptions lest I fall into a self-made trap.

Hoping to see examples from others.

William here is one just for you found this morning on a 5K home. I don’t leave my camera in the case on a home inspection. How would I know if that knife blade was loose by looking at it. I guess if my name was JJ I could of touched it with my tongue:shock:

Good stuff, Charley. Thanks!

Found this slow roof leak last week and this loose connection the week before. Never ever would have found the roof leak without IR, no stains or any other signs… the leak was confirmed with moisture meter and found and documented in the attic as well, may have caught the loose connection without IR, but it popped right out with IR.

Dave, what is the item in that second photo?

Slow leak in the roof. confirming with Tramex moisture meter on extension device.

Confirmed with moisture meter and visually in the attic.

Great work!

I am so glad it started raining again! We went about 6 months after Irma with no significant rain. This one was a very slow roof leak that would have taken months or years to show itself.

So, what was your conclusion here, and were you able to confirm it through other observations?

Morning everyone.
Morning William.

Thank you for the discussion. Infrared, Hypothesis, analysis and conclusion.
May I recommend threads on each case as not to overlap inspectors discussions?
As well, a visual and infrared image for non infrared members to follow the hypotheses?

I was taken back by the word thermal trials. To the layperson, all the colored geometric shapes or otherwise, and their assigned palette colors, and blushes, may be defined as trails, or am I mistaken?
A buildings assembly is mostly a geometric pattern, persay. Would it be safe to consider a maped trail as being outside a geometric pattern? Please explain the term ‘trail’ if you do not mind.

Thanks in advance.

This thermal job lasted about two hours onsite but required 7 hours drive time to and from the job site. In my area this profession requires windshield time.

The thermal image is of two small fuses with the same amp draw on each leg thus the temp should be the same on both. The first digital is the location of the fuses the remaining digitals are some of the machine controls that were imaged.

This is where the money is in this profession. Waving a thermal camera around looking at walls and hand prints during a home inspection makes you no money.

If you are serious about this business buy professional cameras get professional training and make professional money.