Termite find with Infrared

I was performing a home inspection today on a slab-on-grade home today, and discovered excessive Termite damage to a living room hardwood floor. This was a perfect opportunity for me to utilize my IR camera to see if I was able to detect Termite damage behind the finished walls in the same area.

Viola. Wouldn’t you know…The Termite damage was pretty obvious to me. I could detect cold air infiltrating right through the structural studs of the wall and the center portion of the sill area.

If it weren’t for my IR camera, I would have told my client to have the wall coverings removed to determine the extent of the damage. Now he knows exactly where the Termite damage is.

Check it out…

“Click to Enlarge”

nice Dave, do you think if they were present in mass that they would show up

It’s not the Termites that I’m detecting. It’s the structural damage.

If you look at the pics, you can literally see several masses of cold air infiltrating the studs. That is indicative of structural damage.

Yes I understand that, but I was wondering if termites in colony give up a signature

Dave, just out of curiosity, how did you determine that was structural damage? and not cold air coming in from the slab. Was that an exterior wall?

What kind of verbiage did you use in your report. Very interesting.

I think colonies give off heat.

The Termite damage below this area (hardwood floor) was infested. Yes, it’s an exterior wall. That’s what lead me to the IR scan of the wall.

If you look at the 2nd pic, you can see cold air infiltrating only the most center part of the wall at the sill area. Note the warmer sills outside the center sill area.

Obvious Termite damage…

Gotta go…kids are nagging me again.

so the answer is yes

Almost makes me wish we had termites here.:wink: too damn cold for most pesky little bugs.

Dennis, the pictures that Dave posted actually show the infested area as being cooler.

Nice grab


Termites are cold blooded. What gives off the heat signature of a colony is the digestion of the wood fibers from the bacteria within the termite.


As Chuck stated…Termites are cold-blooded creatures. But their metabolic processes will produce heat. Termites also work to control their thermal environment by building moist mud tunnels, which appear as cool spots in the wall cavities. These cool spots and any wood damage within the wall cavities (especially directly on the stud) are quite visible during a thermal scan.

Dave, did you any other tools to verify your findings and how did you right it up. Did you use Dual-View for your report.

Sorry for all the questions but I’m finding that I’m getting all kinds of calls to do IR inspections and any info. is helpful.

Did one yesterday where my client just wanted me to find the Pex heat tubing in his kitchen ceiling.

This would be a good thread to ask this question. It’s been on my mind awhile.

Has anyone here that uses the IR technology ever returned to a customers house as repairs or demo was going on to actually see the type of damage beneath?

This case here would be pretty good for before, during demo, and after shots. I think some photos with before, demo and after would be killer for marketing.


I agree, excellent idea!! If I ever have the opportunity to do it I will post it here!

My training with Kaplan focused on this very subject for about 2 days.

While discovering actual termite damage in framing is difficult at best… it is not impossible as seen in Mr. Valley’s photos. I doubt one would actually find a termite “colony” inside a residential structure as the colonies are typically subterranean. Finding termite evidence will appear similar to and consistent with a moisture signature. Active tubes and termite activity (except for dry wood termites) will include moisture (in most instances in North America) which will appear cooler in the IR scan as compared to the surrounding temps as seen in this image.

termite evidence.jpg Termite evidence in drywall along a trim edge framing a sliding glass door.

Determining extent of damage in my opinion is impossible without destructive evaluations… but, being able to focus repair efforts to a specific area as a result of thermal imaging is very practical.

I have seen one specialist think outside the box and be able to view extent of damage in a stud by “injecting” compressed air from a can (similar to canned dusters purchased for electronics and computer use) into a channel to create a temperature differential in order to see the damage. Although interesting, I think it impractical for actual residential use.

termite evidence.jpg


All I knew at this point was that there was definitely Termite damage to the interior wood flooring. Once I found that the Termite damage was so extensive in this area, I was desperate to thermally scan the wall in this area. Once I started scanning the wall, I noticed the cold spots immediately. That lead me to believe that these temperature differences were indicative of Termite activity at the studs.

No I did not use any other tools except my Termite probe on the hardwood floor. The floor was hollow in numerous areas.

Yes, I utilized Dual-View reporting software for my Termite reporting. It’s quite simple…I attached the images and explained what I had detected. There was no way that I could see the actual concealed area in question, so the word “appears” was definitely used in my reporting of this finding.

That was my exact thoughts, yesterday. So I asked my client if he could send me digital pics of the inside of this particular wall when he takes it apart. He obliged. So I will be posting the “After” pictures in a month or two so everyone can see if my findings were right or wrong.

I would like to drive there myself (on the exact day that he decides to remove this wall) but this IR inspection was a 2 hour drive for me. I don’t normally drive two hours to an inspection, but he was desparate in getting me at his prospective home with my IR camera because he couldn’t find anyone that did this service in his area. He paid me for what I would have made on a 3 inspection day.

Trust me…I’m looking forward to my clients’ closing date. I’ll keep you all posted.

Thanks Dave, good find and I love using Dual-View, it’s working out great for me.