IR & Termites

I received a call to bid an inspection on an 80 duplex unit housing project. They wanted me to use an IR camera to locate,not only water damaged areas, but termites. This may be my opportunity to obtain training & purchase an IR camera. My question is…Are you able to identify old Termite damaged areas as well as active Termite areas with the IR camera?

Here’s one article on the subject, Jerome.
I sent you an email, too.

I get these calls from time to time. Every time they have not wanted to pay enough to make it worth it. Maybe you will have better luck.

Personally, just based on my actually field experience, I do NOT EVER commit to finding ANY OLD damage - moisture or termite - with IR. If it is wet and accessible you will see it with IR, absolutely. Finding ACTIVE moisture is a slam dunk with proper training, equipment and experience, but old moisture damage that was clearly visible to the naked eyes often does n ot show up to IR.

The few times I have found termites that were verified - they were active. To find or determine structural damage, again in my opinion based only on my experience, it would have to be:

a) MAJOR - significantly changed the density and thermal properties of the wood/sheetrock, and even then I am not sure how reliable you could consider your results.


b) found with a very powerful high resolution camera.

I have been very careful to correct people when they suggest they will get this from my service. (If others have found a way to determine old damage with IR I would love to hear about it.)

I would caution you against taking something like this on without prior training and a good deal or at least some reasonable amount of actual personal field experience with the camera you would be using.

They might think you have that IR that “sees through walls.” (sarc) There are some who advertise this in their websites and literature. False advertising but what the hey, it gets the phone to ring.

**Thank you Guys,

Your information has been helpful in my decision.

Kevin, you answers coincide with my research.
*(Sorry about the non-member red letters over my post, I am a member whose membership has recently lapsed. I’m not an Alien to NACHI, just an Inspector in downsize survival mode.)

Jerome Cartier
Cartier Fine Home Inspections**

I didn’t think this was so widespread until yesterday…I had a moisture intrusion inspection and the client was convinced that IR could see inside walls. I had to spend 15 minutes convincing them it wasn’t true.

Dear Mr. Cartier:

Thermal imaging can be used to detect a wide variety of pests and pest-related damage. With the proper equipment and site conditions, a thermographer can detect and document thermal patterns associated with termites and the damage they cause.

The Infraspection Institute Standard for Detecting Pests and Pest Related Damage]( is a unique document that covers this application in detail. Copies of the Standard are available in PDF format from the Infraspection Online Store.

Because this application is heavily dependent upon a thermographer’s training, we have also developed a specific application course on this topic. Infrared Inspections for Pest Management Professionals is offered monthly as an open enrollment course in the Philadelphia, PA area. It is also available through our Distance Learning Program.

Feel free to contact me directly should you require further information.

Yeah, it is getting to be pretty widespread, partly due to some false advertising and at least some implying this in blogs, conversations, etc. It may be prudent to make a disclaimer in the contract so the customer can not later say they were not informed of the limitations of IR technology. It is getting a little ridiculous as to what the HI has to have in their contracts and pre-inspection agreements just to protect themselves from ignorance.

My client was concerned with a below grade finished basement wall.
There were water issues down both sides of the chimney from no flashing issues (of course).
The geology of the lot is also prone to high water table/drainage issues up gradient.

When I patched these scans together I noticed what looked like wrinkled plastic vapor barrier?

What do you think?

I have not been able to see this before.

The test conditions were awful; with the heat blasting.

The right equipment and conditions can see more than expected many times but the ability to get it right every time should be a consideration.

Proceed with caution!

David, did you also inform the customer that his house has a severe right to left slope, heck even the books are being pulled by it. :wink:

Is that your reflection in the upper left of the fireplace?

Jason Kaylor – JJ
VP of Sales
AC Tool Supply](
Fluke Thermal Imagers
FLIR Thermal Imagers
HotShot Hi-Rez Infrared Cameras
Fluke TiR1 Resources](
FLIR B60 Resources](
Retrotec Duct & Blower Door](


I had a call a couple of weeks ago that went like this (I swear I am not making this up):

Caller says, “I have a townhome and there is a weird bad smell in one bedroom. I am convinced it is coming from the neighboring unit. I think they are smoking “stuff” and it is getting into my unit. Can you come out and set up your Infrared equipment and get pictures that would prove they are smoking something - like see them lighting up and the heat from whatever they are smoking?”

Me “Well no unfortunately, despite what they do on tv and movies with infrared, I cannot see throught the walls into your neighbor’s unit to determine something like that.”

This was someone that sounded educated and was very well spoken. After I explained the limitations to him he was still interested in whether I could find a place that air might be entering his unit from the neighbors - allowing the smell to get in. I told him that it was remotely possible I could find such a thing, but it would involve creating a large temperature differential between the two units - and therefore the neighbor’s complete cooperation. Even then it was questionable.


I have had interest in similair inspections on apartments. I see nothing wrong with such inspections. Just make sure you properly set expectations - we can find active moisture and certain pests in proper conditions / situations. Usually you have to reset the clients expectations. In the cases I have had they were thinking something in the 5 - 10 dollar per unit range and I am somewhere between $50 - $100 per unit depending on what they are asking.

Thanks Kevin,

I will be meeting the the particular city housing authority on Monday or Tuesday. I should get the full scope of their needed inspections then. I’m not afraid to say No. I also do not present myself as a magician. This job will include price per unit and Per Diem as they contacted me and are 4-plus hours away. This project renovation may be financed by Stimulus Money since it is set to begin in mid to late May.

Jerome Cartier
Cartier Fine Home Inspections

If you need any help, make a call.

Bring a heater with you. If you see something faint, you can bring it out with some temp adjustment.

**Thank you David. I’ll keep you posted.
Jerome Cartier
Cartier Fine Home Inspections
Mobile, AL.