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.
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.
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 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.
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.