Infrared inspection gadget hones in on escaping heat
By Margaret Bauman
Alaska Journal of Commerce
Publication Date: 04/13/08
WASILLA - Ever wonder how much heat is escaping from your home or business, and how much cold air is seeping into the building, driving up the heating bill?
Home owners and small business owners alike these days are increasingly employing the services of infrared inspection specialists armed with infrared equipment that pinpoints where heat is escaping from a building.
On average, says Mike Divis of Fairview Property Consultants in Wasilla, the cost of the infrared inspection and subsequent repairs is paid off within two to three years in savings to heating fuel bills. On average, for example, an owner spending $100 a month on heating fuel will see the bill drop to $85, he said.
The same infrared equipment can also be used for a building owner doing restoration after a fire to detect the presence of moisture damage to walls before tearing out sheetrock. Having this information may save the owner and/or an insurance company from having to pay for replacing portions of the home not damaged by water, Divis said.
During an average inspection, which takes about two hours, the infrared specialist will show the client the images on camera, pointing out where changes can be made to minimize heat loss.
Infrared inspections are particularly recommended for older homes built in the 1980s and before.
“The technology is so much more advanced now as far as quality of windows and insulation, and we are using much better vapor barrier,” Divis said.
During a recent infrared inspection of an older home, Divis pointed out places in every room where further insulation would improve heat retention. His specialized camera will highlight the smallest insulation breaches and fissures within walls and ceilings.
The infrared camera pinpoints and records places where warm air is escaping and cold air is coming in. The infrared energy inspector provides the client with a professional thermal report showing areas of the building where repairs are needed to lower heating bills. The client can then work with a contractor to upgrade the building’s energy efficiency.
The infrared camera will detect a lack of insulation in walls, around window frames and other areas, plus mold problems hidden behind walls and ceilings. While infrared imaging does not detect the actual molds, it will detect the issues associated with mold buildup.
Infrared thermography also provides clients the opportunity to assess the energy efficiency of their heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems, including the tightness of the ductwork located behind walls and ceilings. And an infrared camera will locate thermal panes at the beginning stages of leaking insulated gasses, even if they have not yet visually shown the signs of condensation.
While using the infrared camera, Divis also does a visual inspection of exposed duct systems, and will point out areas where resealing and further insulation is needed.
The end result will be an energy efficient building, much more economical to heat. Margaret Bauman can be reached at email@example.com.
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