Thermal imaging question; Radiant heating

(Chuck Evans, CMI TREC 7657) #21

Infrared imaging itself is outside of the scope of Home Inspection SOP. The issue with falling back to the “I’m a generalist, not here to do diagnostics and analysis.” Is who is going to come behind the inspector to do those things? Suggesting someone have an electrician further evaluate a perceived thermal anomaly in an electrical panel with no analysis done by the person who reported it is pointless because the electrician doesn’t have the equipment or knowledge to assess what the inspector saw when he pointed his infrared imager at the panel. Same with thermal envelope issues. Failure to understand the principles and adhere to the standards of thermography and perform at least basic analysis leads inspectors to report all manner of false “issues” which frustrate buyers, sellers and agents, alike. Even highlighting a wet spot requires some level of secondary verification, before someone reports it as such.

As home inspectors, we have a responsibility to identify and document deficiencies, but we also have a responsibility to not report false issues and waste time and money in the transaction, especially when they are beyond the capacity of trade-persons to validate or assess.

(John Olson) #22

Well said Chuck

(David A. Andersen, TN HI# 40) #23

When a HI uses anything outside the HI Scope of Inspection, they should give up that “Generalist” crap. You are becoming more than a general Home Inspector. If you don’t figure out what your finding with stuff like Thermal Imaging, there is no reason to defer anything to anyone else.

First of all, your probably wrong in the first place. Second, as Chuck pointed out, the person you are referring to can not be expected to pick up where you left off. Most State Home Inspection Rules says you can exceed the standards if your “Qualified” to perform the task you are venturing into. If you can’t say what your Thermal Scan is showing, your not Qualified.

The biggest violators are the HI’s with cheep cameras and training (or none). If you received proper training, you would be well aware that using a C2 in Home Inspection Applications is not the appropriate equipment for the application. If you don’t know why, it’s because most of what your looking for in a Home Inspection requires an “Indirect” Thermal Scan. This requires more camera to do the figuring out you need before deferring to someone else.

If your using your IR the same as a flashlight in a crawlspace so you can investigate further (yourself) and visually confirm what your IR is seeing, this does not apply.

If your using IR in your advertising (web site or word of mouth) you are being fraudulent in your statements because you are not trained or qualified. And you are liable and in violation of the HI Standards which keeps you a “Generalist”.

This is drifting from the OP some, and does not call out anyone in this thread, but it is relative for anyone considering using ancillary services under the home inspection umbrella (regardless of the service being considered).

(Robert Young) #24

The wisest thermographers say, “We are all the same” as building inspections students walk along the road to thermography asking questions.
Please, Let us not forget that

No matter how much the cost, cheap relates to the user, not the provider. Value of education, remember.

I certainly miss Level 2 thermographer, John McKenna.
He installed Value and made learning fun. He picked out helped/aided, that student that required more. No extra money. Just John giving back.

John introduced thousands of students to Thermography theory.
God rest your soul, John. I miss you.

Infraspection Institute. Infrared Distance Learning & Infrared Distance Training
Industry Specific Courses Infrared Inspections for InterNACHI Home & Building Inspectors. 16 hours. $295.00 Cheap? No. Good value.

(Glen Gallo) #25

Well it is pretty obvious whom it is that is being called out that would be me and I am comfortable with that. My goal is to learn.

One post made some inductive leaps based on my post that were no part of my statement.

Of course a picture of an anomaly would be provided in the report with a clear location and the recommendation that a qualified contractor assess and repair. Whether they have an imager or not they will from the report know what I called out and where.

Once again a quick scan I would not consider a thermal Imaging report nor part of the scope of a home inspection. It is a useful tool for quick assessment not unlike a electrical tester or a moisture meter.

It is my understanding from the training the goal HI is to qualify issues to the best of my ability and report the issue not quantify them

In a thermal imaging report I would be qualifying and quantifying to the best of my ability. I would manipulate environment (delta T) and require imaging be done under certain parameters (avoiding solar loading etc). None of these would I think is part of an HI scope. This seems to me is a total distinct and separate type of service.

I have worn different hats in different industries and am new to HI that is a given. But some of the advice here seems to creep beyond Industry best practice from what I understand from the training and other posts.

As a HERS Rater it was clear that when I went on site my role was to perform the test prescribed by the permit and title 24 report(see California Energy Code). I was not there to critique equipment choices, code compliance, workmanship etc. I was there to perform a pass of fail test based on protocol and adhere to the standards.

I am also a General Contractor and on an HI I will not be recommending methods of repair. While I have expertise in service and repair in many trades based on real world experience I do not see it as my place in a HI quantify how a repair should be made or by whom and for how much other than a qualified licensed contractor, engineer, whatever

So tell me where I am wrong?

Perhaps I have misunderstood the training and goal of the Industry.

(David A. Andersen, TN HI# 40) #26

This is a recommendation for anyone reading this thread who think IR is point and shoot photography.

This thread is all about ‘learning’. The application discussed here is one of the hardest and your not expected to know how, just that you need to find out how if your going to take it on. It is to point out what is actually needed to make a call without sacrificing your liability.

I don’t expect anyone (even other Lvl III trained Thermographers) to know how to do temperature rise under load calculations off the top of their head. I don’t even know if this is taught in school. I got it from someone that has two PHD’s when I was in training (at lunch). All I’m trying to point out is that you must realize what your speaking before you speak. A 2.5F Delta-T can be an issue that you can not determine through your camera, not that you have to know how to do it. If you don’t consider the other factors, you can not make an accurate assessment.

(David A. Andersen, TN HI# 40) #27

That is cheap, and a good value.

You don’t know what you don’t know, till you learn what you don’t know…

The income potential in Thermography far outweighs the cost of training. Operating without training only degrades the income potential of all Thermographers. I have invested around $20k in training over the years. I have recovered that in one week of inspecting a power plant for TVA or a building project for the Army Corps .

Can’t do that in a Home Inspection? Oh yes you can. Your buyer is not the one who should be paying you. That is the mistake everyone makes. The buyer (your client) should never have to pay for remediation if you do your job. His RE Agent will not hate you for it either!

Need help. Call someone, don’t expect progress on social media. That will never happen.

(Robert Young) #28

With all due respect, David, I disagree.
It is an introduction course to thermal imaging. It is not one of the three level courses.
As well, it is offered as a Industry Specific Course by the oldest recognised thermal imaging institute, Infraspection Institute, to aid in the detection of thermal anomalies through the use of infrared imaging.

The idea behind the courses is to get building inspector involved. They can then decide to further their education with level courses but at least they have the ‘basic understanding’ of how to collect data from that specific course material. It is not cheap. It is much value/d.

I concur with getting involved with other thermographers.
But progress can be made through the smallest of steps, David.
The idea, plant a seed and nurture development.
Negativity and talking to, instead of positive reinforcement, turns individuals of learning.

If replies to this string would have focused, focus being the operative word, and remained focused on the posts simple question, Radiant heating, I am quite sure many more non level building inspectors, InterNACHI members, would have joined the thread igniting there interest in thermography.

Remember, there are few Level certified inspectors here. The explanations can appear overwhelming to many.

May I recommend, preach to the congregation, not the choir.
Simple short explanations.
Make it interesting as well as easy to digest.

You know, simple lessons and tutorials go along way in lifting up a colleagues confidence.

Thank you for your replies. Always welcomed. You guys are the best.

(David A. Andersen, TN HI# 40) #29

I started in thermography when the industry was just beginning to realize what this science could be used for. None of us knew everything about anything. It was all trial and error and acting in accordance with the science and practices known at that time. I took Lvl III training with my first ITC Instructor (same guy that taught John). Our instructor, who had a doctorate in physics, turned the class over to three or four of us in the room who had the most time in diagnosing building science thermography issues. We talk on the phone all the time, around the world, on projects we need help with. If you want to wade through the mud like I had to, ignore my post. It’s not required reading.

If you want to figure out hydronic systems in concrete we need to talk, there is more to consider than we can write about.

(Jim Seffrin, Director of Infrared Training) #30

Dear Robert:

The topic of Infrared Inspections to Detect In-Floor Heating System Leaks]( is the current Tip of the Week at our content-based website, IRINFO.ORG. This Tip, and hundreds like it are available for FREE by visiting the Tip Archive.

As to your imagery, your colorized thermal image shows a slightly warmer area along the pathway of four tubes adjacent to one exhibiting a warm area (orange). Ignoring the warmest tube for a moment, the warmer pattern (yellow/green) associated with the tubes to the right is most likely due to a shallower burial depth for those tubes. You will note that there is a cooler area between each tube. This would typically not occur if you had a water leak that was spreading laterally.

The warm tube is of interest; however, you have a very small spot that is approximately 1 Fahrenheit degree warmer than the space between the adjacent tubes. Given this small temperature differential and the location of this spot relative to the warm area above the adjacent tubes, I would be reluctant to deem this as a problem.

As others have correctly pointed out in this thread, infrared inspections of in-floor hydronic heating systems are qualitative in nature and temperature measurements need not be included. Therefore, you may leave your emittance control set to 1.0 and ignore temperature measurements altogether or simply report apparent Delta T’s if desired.

Concrete, tile, and stone floors should have emittance values sufficiently high that surface modification is not necessary. The same is especially true for floor coverings such as carpet, wood, and laminate. While imaging, make certain that your thermal imager is not set to full time ‘Auto Image’ since this will make meaningful comparisons across the floor nearly impossible.

Thermal imaging of radiant in-floor systems is a combination of science and art. To ensure good data, one should follow the guidelines outlined in the above-referenced Tip. One must also utilize a thermal imager capable of producing imagery sufficiently clear to allow for pass/fail assessments in the field without the use of external software. This is an absolute necessity if one is to be able to accurately identify suspect leak sites in real time rather than having to make return trips to the jobsite.

Should a thermographer have to rely on post-processing of thermal images in order to deem an area anomalous, they are either using equipment that is insufficient to the inspection or are experiencing site conditions that are unfavorable. Working as a professional thermographer for the past 35 years, I have never needed to post process imagery during an inspection or when preparing a hard copy report. I would hope that you enjoy a similar experience on your future inspections.

(Frank Rotte, , CPI, San Diego Home Inspector) #31

Well they didn’t teach us that in school. You are a wealth of information Chuck.

(Robert Young) #32

First off, let me say thank you for the call, Jim. Greatly appreciated. Wonderful explanation.
Great narratives. Lots to learn.
Kindest regards.
Robert Young

(Charley L. Bottger) #33

Approximately 2 years ago give or take I was hired by a client that had a law suit against a builder, a HVAC company and a plumbing company. The client was wanting a thermal scan of a concrete floor with radiant heat installed in the slab. The home was primarily under ground with the east exterior wall exposed above ground. The home was 5 years old and had never been lived in because the interior temp could not be raised above 60 degrees F. I provided the images of the floor and was summoned to a deposition by the 3 attorneys representing the 3 defendants. I was questioned for over three hours trying to discredit my work, they failed in collaboration with an engineer, the case was settled one day before the trial date. We won the case because of three reasons 1. The spacing between the tubes exceeded MFG instructions 2. No Thermal barrier installed between the concrete and the soil beneath the slab. 3. The hot water boiler was under sized for the size of the floor which was 5K.

I documented the distance of the spacing between the tubes and the supply and return air temps of the water. The engineer determined there was no thermal barrier installed and performed a heat load calculation.

The attorneys knew nothing about thermal imaging and did not understand the word “Saturation” in relation to scanning a floor with a IR camera. I only answered the questions asked at the deposition. I was saving Saturation for the trial which never happened. You can not scan a floor that has a saturated temp and if it has not saturated it will not perform as the MFG intended.

(John Wantz) #34

The fastest way to confirm a hydronic leak “in-floor” is to access the boiler, check the auto fill water line to see if it’s cold from constant filling, and/or turn off the auto fill valve and see if the boiler water pressure drops. Tricks from a retired Steamfitter!

(Roy Lewis, CMI - North Florida Inspector) #35

Your so very special…Yep! :smiley:

(Robert Young) #36

First off, congratulations. Well done.
I have done the same assessment procedures as you performed during an inspections to gain practice and insight. As you so precisely explained, " The contractor did not follow the manufacturer’s’ installation instructions." Voids warranty expected results.

The arguments presented by the plaintiffs experts, yourself and the engineer, concluded the installation was not to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Thermography helped map the tubing, related supply, return and saturated temperatures.
Could you provide several useful questions the defendant lawyers and experts presented to you in this case, Charley?
Looking forward to hearing your answer/s. Regards, Robert.

(Robert Young) #37

I will consider a desiccant deodorant. Thanks.

Personally, I turn off all lighting in the space, and close all blinds.
I find this reduces, dramatically at times, natural and artificial visible light reflectance, between 400–700 nanometre range, in that space.
Agents, client or homeowners entering the room turn on the lights. I ask them, please turn off the lighting.

Can other light spectrums affect a thermal camera?

I do not mind working in spaces with reduced visible light. I find your senses are heightened opening a window few inspectors venture into. Your focus becomes sharper when you traverse a system or component.

Again. Thanks everyone.

(David A. Andersen, TN HI# 40) #38

Hope this helps.

(David A. Andersen, TN HI# 40) #39

This is an example of thermal reflection.
I do not know what the thremographer was trying to depict in this scan, but it has all the elements of a thermal comparison.

Notice the bright yellow to the left of all three breakers where the spot measurement tool was placed. If the Temperature Reflect was not set to eliminate this reflection on each fuse, this would be wrong.

You do not place a measurement tool on a reflection just because it is the highest temperature of the object. There is plenty of room on the target to avoid the reflection. You can see that the reflection diminishes on fuses from left to right. You can also see that the recorded temps range from 140/139/137.1. Would this be associated with reflection?

Due to the high target temperature, this is unlikely associated with a visual light source reflection and is only visual through IR.

If you look at the fuse end caps you will see the source of the reflection (the thin yellow line on the left). You can also see the thermographer’s refection (yellow line in the center of the cap). The top spot measurement tools are in line vertically with the reflective heat source seen on the fuse cap. These measurements are also affected by reflection 127.9/120.4/119.2.

Look at the back of the panel color. The right side of the scan is cooler than the left.

Nothing in this scan indicates a significant exception to warrant all this thermal tuning, but it is a great example of how deceptive reflections make your report.

Screenshot_2019-03-29 Slide Show Thermal Infrared Imaging Oklahoma Thermal Infrared Imaging.png

(Joseph Jacono) #40

I was in the plumbing and industrial supply business for over 30 years, fact that this system used Pex does not in itself constitute probable cause for failure, failure in Pex systems was not the tubing but the fittings which would corrode. I’ve witnessed many radiant heating installations over the years (friend of mine had a Gypcrete business), never saw any installed with a buried fitting. Could it happen, yes anything is possible, highly unlikely though. Someone really would have had to go out of their way to miss a buried fitting install during the inspection prior to the pour.

Rare to see leaks in the buried tubing, system is pressure checked during install. Radiant heating was utilized a lot for slab on grade construction years ago (ie. Levittown in NY), these used copper tubing buried in concrete. Eventually, yes the tubing would degrade and leak. First sign of leakage was consistent filling of the system. Suspected leak of any fluid system would be confirmed by pressure checking that loop.