Infrared & Construction Skills?

Infrared & Construction Skills?

Would you say that for the “home inspector” (only) that their
background knowledge in construction is important to perform
an IR scan of the building envelope and it’s systems (only)?
I am keeping this question narrow in scope.

In other words, would someone who has taken an entry level
IR class be ready to do an IR scan, if they were a novice in
their construction background and knowledge?

What level of previous experience and what kind of previous
training would you recommend, in the construction field, for
those wanting to do an IR scan?


After finishing an entry level IR class, the home inspector
should have XXXXX years of experience in the field and
XXXXX training in various fields to begin doing IR scans.

What do you think? (there is no perfect answer)

My personal feeling is that an inspector does much better
if they have finished the CMI qualifications to enhance their
IR skills. This gives them a well rounded background, and
related education, to understand what the IR images are
revealing about the building.

CMI qualifications are not verified as with any online cerfification offered here. It’s a sham.

A background is important. How much would depend on many factors. Years of foundation, work may not be as useful as installing drywall or roofing. The drywall guy gets to see most of the home. The study of current and past construction techniques is more important. The ability to use deductive reasoning would be important also. Years of experience can also be obtained quicker with on the job training. Just my 2 cents.

InterNACHI’s IR class has two test and a field assignment that are
verified before a certificate is issued.

BTW… if anyone knows of a fake CMI who has not met the required
qualification, let me know. So far they have all checked out.

Before anyone can answer your question, a clarification of what you define as an “infrared home inspection” would be in order…

What systems and components does an infrared home inspector “scan” and what is an infrared home inspector specifically looking for?

Then perhaps we can talk about preliminary qualifications to do so…

A little drift here Bill Just wanted to say what a privilege it was to meet you face to face in Indy you are one of the most self motivated person I have met in a long while your knowledge of IR is top scale you will go far young man wished I was your age:mrgreen::mrgreen::mrgreen:

Good comments.

I was limiting my questions to things like IR scans of the building
envelope (and attic) for things such as moisture, HVAC, electrical,
structural… etc… (basically the common home inspection items).

A question I asked before:

How are we going to find house electrical problems except by chance? All house circuits are not loaded while we do the inspection. There is no standard for checking residential electrical systems that I know of. We do not load all receptacles to the highest expected amps. Chance finds stuff in houses but many ads I have seen outright lie to the customer by implying that the house will be scanned for electrical problems.

We seem to taken knowledge of the preventive maintenance IR scans of electro-mechanical equipment in industry and tried to imply that a house electrical scan will do the same!! Rubbish!

Brian In my area it is very easy I don’t necessarily worry about the outlet circuits for a load generally speaking there are enough in house appliances A/C, electrical cook stove lighting circuits exhaust fans bathroom heaters that I am able to exceed a 50 to 60% load on the main it really gets good when the home is occupied completely

Oh BTW I had a vacant home just a couple of days ago had a 100 amp CH panel and with the inhouse appliances I loaded the panel to 100.9 amps and the main did not trip guess what my recomendations were???

What do you recommend and still call it a home inspection? Do you dismantle
every fixture or at what point do you stop and still call it a home inspection?

John McKenna considers an infrared home inspection to consist of:

I thought we were talking about home inspections and not industrial or commercial applications?
Your answer is the VERY reason why residential applications should not be taken so lightly with “introductory courses”.

Yes, someone using an infrared imager in a residential application should either be well versed in ALL the systems and components you described, or have an assistant who is an expert in the component or system being scanned… but I believe your priorities are backwards…
The experience in inspecting and fully understanding those components and systems should come first BEFORE anyone considers taking an “introductory course”.

BUT… (and here’s the kicker and why I asked my first questions)

That experience will prove utterly USELESS if the operator of that expensive infrared instrument does not FULLY understand the principals and science behind the technology. This has been my stance all along. There is absolutely NOTHING simple about an infrared scan in a residential application.

There is nothing common in the infrared realm for any of the “infrared home inspection” applications you stated.
Each and every one of these applications has a separate field and often specialties within the infrared industry. To approach them as common or in a general manner is foolish.

Moisture intrusion has an entirely different set of parameters and limitations for accurate results than say energy efficiency in regards to setup, condition requirements, and application of the infrared imager. A multitude of parameters and considerations fall into this category and even some of the most experienced among us still have difficulty acquiring and interpreting accurate results. A very experienced inspector who had just started infrared posted a while back that he was astonished to discover he could not “see” water in his 3 foot flooded basement with his imager. There is a reason and perfectly scientific explanation for this… but won’t be discussed here.

HVAC alone has multiple side applications within its field, and again each with its own unique requirements for accurate results. Are we looking for refrigerant leaks? Blocked capillaries or driers? How do we compensate for reflections? (I seriously hope the answer isn’t to change your view point…). Are we looking for duct and register leaks? Are we looking for failed heat exchangers? How do we look for one with an imager? Are we looking for failing fan motors? How do we tell if it’s failing? What is a motor circuit analysis and I thought it only applied to industrial thermal imaging? What components should I scan on a hydronic heating system? What am I looking for?

Structural… hmmm… what are we considering here? Wall framing defects? Ceiling framing defects? Concealed main beam defects? Block wall foundation defects? CMU walls? Insulated masonry? Poured foundation defects? Interior partition wall defects? Just exactly what is the defect and is it a defect at all? Or are they missing the $$$ defect altogether??? What am I looking for on a pitched roof? How about a flat roof? Why aren’t they the same? I’m not going to perform commercial inspections, why should I worry about proper scanning conditions on a flat roof?

Electrical… well this has been hounded over and over. The importance of knowing emissivity values and reflected ambient temperature values and the ability to adjust for this in the imager and software is GROSSLY understated and overlooked. How hot is too hot? What is supposed to be hot and what isn’t? What 2 methods can one perform to TRULY compensate for ambient temperature reflection to obtain accurate temperature readings? What exactly is being reflected? What is the call to action temperature threshold? Is there more than one threshold? What is my target distance calculation? If a breaker is just slightly warm, is it a significant problem? Does focus have anything to do with accurate temperature readings? Am I seeing a cavity radiator effect? What is specular reflection and diffuse reflection, and why should that matter?

And you didn’t even mention plumbing… :wink:

Would all the inspection experience in the world help one to understand an infrared image in any of these fields without proper (beyond introductory) infrared training?
(Sounds an awful lot like an industrial and commercial infrared inspection… which a someone (wink wink) on this board has indicated more than once requires more than an introductory course and only then the need for a high end camera.)

So we arrive back to a version of your initial question…
Will an experienced home inspector be able to accurately and competently use and interpret a thermal imager in the course of an “infrared home inspection” after years of experience and an infrared introductory course?
My answer is no, not accurately or competently with only an introductory infrared course.
The introductory DVD included with most imagers today will most certainly steer them in the right direction (and it’s FREE) as far as introductory basic principals, some cool images, and some relevant applications… but is nowhere near the preparation needed in my opinion. Too many specialist systems in a residential application to use thermal imaging as a generalist approach.

Thank you Charley! That means a lot coming from you and the feeling is mutual!
And don’t give me this age bit… I had a hard time staying up with you guys and still making it to breakfast on time!:mrgreen:

Good to see you on MB Charlie.

Unless you held that load for a long enough that test is meanlingless.

You need to look up the time/trip curve for that circuit breaker.

A 1% overload will not trip a breaker for over an hour and maybe more depending on it’s design.

Hi Mike good to be back

What I was looking for was a sustained load which is not allowed to exceed 80% I was not looking for a time/trip curve which I am well aware of. I could have held the 100 amp load for as long as it took to trip the breaker or not trip which ever the case may have been. Are you telling me it is ok for a sustained load of 100% with just inhouse appliances and no man toys on the outlets

Try not to attack, just give us your recommendations. I see you are
associated with HOME SAFE. Do you think their training and methods
are the minimum level required for a home inspection?

No one is attacking here yet John except that you always get VERY defensive when the experienced try to talk common sense and real world stuff.
We try to share our experience and the difficulties involved, but it appears to threaten your livelihood based on your belligerent and inaccurate responses.

You ask about prerequisite qualifications… I answered with food for thought for those entering the field.
I am not associated with HomeSafe, however I did take their course through ITA at the time. A very intensive 2 week course that incorporated level I training with building science and a whole lot more. Then required beyond the classroom, 2 days of field training with the instructor and a proctored exam at the end. Perhaps you could call it an introductory course, but it was far more detailed and in depth regarding the science, the limitations, the pitfalls, the difficulties and how to overcome some of them, etc. It also helped me understand that low end cameras on the market which were marketed as adequate for residential applications, were nowhere near the level needed for a “general” home inspection under “general” conditions for the majority of the country most of the year. Had I purchased a low end camera, it would stay in the box more than 1/2 the year due to environmental conditions experienced in my region. I would be SEVERELY limited in my ability to use the camera accurately and consistently. It is FAR FAR more than point and shoot technology and any ole camera will due for starters thinking. Inadequate, low end cameras become a huge disappointment as we see here routinely on this very message board experienced by your students and others who opted to take the cheap route into the field. They based their purchase decisions on sales pitches and introductory offerings rather than education. This is something that many of us with higher experience levels and education try to forewarn everyone of. Through all the bantering we are really trying to help, but unfortunately it falls on deaf ears and largely based on posts from a vendor with an agenda trying to sell his wares under the guise of saving his students money…

After my training, I felt VERY confident in my abilities. I did not have to answer questions such as those I receive on a weekly basis from your students about why an AFCI breaker appears hot, or why we see bands in an AC condenser upon startup, or why one cannot “see” moisture or standing water in certain conditions (which are VERY common in most “general” infrared home inspections), or should I perform a scan when there are no utilities, or can I perform a scan if there is heavy fog and high humidity… the list of questions goes on and on and which were ALL answered in my introductory course, or at minimum gave me the ability to think it through with the science I was taught. I don’t mind answering their questions as I thoroughly enjoy discussing thermal imaging, but I often hear their disappointment when I ask why their introductory course didn’t teach them these basic skills because I know mine did.

No sir… someone wants to take a course to learn how to turn their camera on and discover some of the cool stuff they may be able to find… well by all means take your course. But the very same stuff is included with the imager they purchase.
But if someone wants to truly, truly understand what it is they are “seeing” and the ability to think things through, and the ability to confidently interpret an image… start with a level I course at minimum and go up from there.

My previous post in fact DID stay with home inspections. Those are all pertinent factors and considerations in a “general home inspection”. The point of the matter is, you say none of those considerations are necessary until one wants to branch out into commercial and industrial applications. No additional knowledge level needed. No higher end equipment needed. Just plain old “good enough” mentality. Unfortunately as anyone can see, those consideration are NOT limited to industrial and commercial settings. They are VERY present in each and every home you inspect. If you don’t have the knowledge and equipment to handle these situations, then what are you really performing which you call an “infrared home inspection”?
What then are you scanning, why are you scanning it, and what is it you’re looking for?

I took the FLIR/ITC Building Science Certification course about 4 years ago and have been using my FLIR BCam on most of my home inspections and some moisture intrusion inspections. After 4 years of learning with the “minimum” I am stepping up with a FLIR T300 and will do Level 1 and 2 certifications to advance in the field. I totally agree with the guys that are actually “telling it like it is”. Thanks for your insight Bill and Dave.

Me too. Excellent post Bill, thanks.

Thanks for your questions, but now give us an answer to
the question asked in this thread… OK?