Thermal imaging training for home inspectors

As a former Physicist who did medical thermography (way back when the cameras cost millions and had to be cooled with liquid nitrogen) and a level III trained thermographer, I have to say that the traditional ‘level’ training is not needed for almost all building inspection purposes. Most of what I have learned has no use in inspection houses or buildings.

The NACHI course, which I developed with John McKenna, way back in 2009, is good, but a new, updated and deeper course is on the way. It will be available, on-line, soon. You can learn how to do it properly AND get some state CE credit, if your state requires it.

Just working to make education for NACHI members the best it can be.

Look for the new Thermal Imaging and Building Science course, coming soon.


Give me a break! Really! And you decided to become a home inspector…


After taking Monroe’s CRT course which I heartily endorse, I agree that us “ordinary” home inspectors don’t need a lot of deep, intensive training to use IR on houses. I look forward to your new course.


Yep. First physics (U of C), then business computing (final job, Senior Systems Analyst, Rand McNally) and now a home inspectors (since 2005).

As my Dad used to say, specialization is for insects.


Where have you been hiding there Will? Been a long time. Haven’t see you around since your IR Camera was stolen.

Sounds like your slamming Thermal Science to sell off another course that will leave us with questions about water leaks, because it’s Blue…, not because of the science of heat transfer and psycrometrics.

You should know with all that education your toting, that you need to know some science to understand why things happen, not just because the camera assigned red and blue. Home Inspection and Building analysis it the most complex application of the industry. When I took Lvl III, which was required of all Flir/ITC Level III Instructors when Dr. Madden came out of retirement to rewrite the Lvl III course, Building Science was the least understood thermal application taught at that time. Why was that?

I wish you the best as you make your comeback with this new course. I sure hope it’s not an everyone can do this without training thing. As I sit here with nothing better to do, analyzing thermal scans for drone pilots from 400ft, without the option of using a moisture meter, I’m excited to see someone expanding the knowledge base of TI Camera owners everywhere.

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

Hope we all learn something from this!

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Looking forward to it.

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Hey Dave as a level 111 my self u and I have discussed the lack of training that HI’s received prior to using TI camera. How many times did we bash John Mc for trying to teach TI with only a building science course under his belt. BTW u just missed reading my obituary I just survived the widow maker triple bypass last week.


I Agree. John and I got together to do a thermal course, back in the day. I was supposed to do the physics and science part, but he took my part and ran with it. Not to slam the dead, but John is not the most charismatic instructor.

I especially want to focus on the stuff that HIs need to do this correctly. There are some 200 guys in my area (greater Chicagoland) who do thermal but only about 45 or so have any sort of training. And I trained 30 or so of them. The course I taught here was pretty much level I, but had only a little of the physics.

In this new course, I want to have many more pictures, stressing proper interpretation. I will also have case studies of various problems that I ran into (water intrusion is a big one around here, but also air intrusion and other stuff). Seems like no one around here does flat roof venting, so we have a number of 3 unit condos (rear and sides are single wythe split block) and I see a lot of rotted trusses.

This is such a building. Only 4 years old. There were actual mushrooms growing on the trusses.


:scream: Holy Crap!
Well it’s obvious you have the health and strength to maintain your attitude! So I won’t ask how your doing! :wink:
We’re pulling for ya brother! You owe me a damn fishing trip, don’t forget!

Charley You slacker, what are You doing laying around, ???

Yea, I sat in on a class he gave in Brentwood, Tn., and offered to assist any way I could, after all this was my AO. He later accused me of trying to steal his gig. We were all babies taking our first steps in this IR thing. We needed all the help we could get.

My “Gig” was for TVA, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of the Navy, US Army Special Operations, Structural Engineering Firms, and high end Legal Defense Firms. I had no interest in stealing anyone’s “How to Turn on a Thermal Camera Gig”. I did three presentations for Flir at conventions concerning Building diagnostics that had yet to be discovered by the primarily Electrical Thermographers in the field. Equine diagnostic practices where I worked with a world leading Vet in Australia. And a thermal scan diagnostic procedure to eliminate using a moisture meter when detecting moisture issues. After all, we know a moisture meter does not detect moisture, rather conductivity or density changes.

So, I’m not very keen on instructors who downplay the science of Thermography.
As you said, HI’s do not need to know physics, but they do need to understand what is going on, why and when things need to be done. How you must control conditions to prevent false positives. The camera does not perform diagnostic, it delivers data. A thermal scan is not a digital picture, it is a Spreadsheet of information that we can manipulate to correctly diagnose a problem that you were hired for, when no one else has solved or found the problem prior to your arrival. You don’t need to know the Law of Thermodynamics, but you do need to know what method of heat transfer is happening that your looking at through the camera. There are three heat transfers, the sum of which must equal 100%. You may identify conductivity heat, but without even considering the other two, adding insulation may be totally wrong. Moisture is not moisture to the thermal camera, it is heat. Finding heat is not the problem. Why your finding that heat is.

In your picture where you discuss ventilation, why is there insulation in there? To hold moisture and slow ventilation that might be there? This is what needs to be understood. What is more important here, controlling conduction or convection? Do we even consider radiation, which is in there by the way? All three play a role at different percentages. How you recommend remediation is critical to success. Is that black stuff from conduction, or convection? Or even radiation sources we can not see in the picture? Or do we get all cranked up about mold?

This is not Physics, it is just a perception of how things work. We had had hundreds of conversations that “we don’t need dang TI to find stuff”. No you don’t, if you know what your looking at. How do you know what your looking at w/o thermal? Using TI documents what is actually going on and gives you credibility against all other opinion, which everyone has.

Your taking on a big task. I hope you consider stuff like this in the process. A lot needs to be learned, preferably not trial by fire.

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Ya got it Bro we’ll do it. I am going to watch this thread just curios where it’s headed. I did a lot of commercial IR. I don’t think there are many that could beat my IR program I set up within my HI business.

Dave. That picture is of the roof trusses in a 3 unit, single wythe block wall condo in Chicago. The problem depicted is rotted truss ends. This happened because a) Fluffy insulation with no vapor barrier, b) Multiple recessed can lights, not air sealed and c) Humidity entering the roof/ceiling space and condensing on the underside of the roof decking as well as on the block walls. This moisture accumulation rotted the truss ends. It does not help that the city codes REQUIRED that trusses and joists installed in block pockets be grouted in.

I was able to diagnose this problem because the truss ends, as the met the side walls, were somewhat colder than the rest of the truss. Engineered, gusset type trusses tend to have a certain thermal pattern. Since the ends were colder than the rest of the truss, and since they were wood (low thermal conduction) I assumed that they were wet at the ends. I verified this with a moisture meter. The client then had a GC open a small area in the ceiling and he found this problem.

They had to tear off the roof, replace the trusses (this time, using a ledger system) and it was expensive. The GC liked the technology and has had me do some work for them, as well.

So, it was not just the pretty pictures. It was the pictures together with knowledge of the structure, the climate here (Hot humid summers, cold, dry winters) as well as knowing how stuff is ‘usually done’ that let me diagnose.

Another good part is that there are many buildings like this, with exactly the same problems, and I get to inspect them and charge a great deal, even though 90% of the report is the same for all of them.

BTW: Send me an e-mail ( I want to send you something for your critique.


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I thought John as a Level II thermographer?
Did not appreciate the bashing what so ever. Childish to say the lest.

For 25 years John was a building contractor.
15 years, a Texas home inspector.
10 years as a building thermographer, Level 2, an infrared teacher, a board certified master inspector and founder of ‘Infrared Certified Training school.’

Everyone is entitled to their opinion U have yours and I have mine

That is the way it’s done. That can’t be accomplished if you dumb down the science of thermography. HI’s can not just use TI as a glorified flashlight and get to a level that pays the initial investment. Yes, it can be done, and we all start out that way. But the more you learn (if you choose to do so) the more answers you can provide the client.

Helps to hear “the rest of the story” from your investigation, but

we can have a long discussion about this. There are several reason why things were as they appeared. We need more consideration before having someone tear out parts of a building. You obviously provided enough for the client to do that. But what if someone was wrong because they saw blue spots and just called out “Requires further investigation by…”, as many HI’s simply do?

Then we get to the part of, what is causing this? Wood becomes more conductive when wet. Why are exceptions appearing cool? Things can test wet from air leakage without water leakage. Under certain outdoor weather conditions, there will always be moisture from air leakage. Then you have to figure out why there is air leakage in order to fix the moisture problem. As I said earlier, three or more things can cause this problem. We must consider all of them, not just choose the first one that pops up. We see questions like this here all the time, which indicates it happens all the time. This is due to lack of training and using the IR as a glorified flashlight. So I’m hoping more of this type training comes forth. A lot of these answers require much more testing than just TI, and if a HI doesn’t provide that service their referral must be for someone does, not just tear it out.

I got your phone message. My email sent. Will help with what I can.

Robert, there is more to the story than you know.

He slammed IR training, except his own. He was not a Lvl II. He took the Building Science course, like we all did. But the rest of us realized the Building Science course had to jam all of Lvl I in less than one day, then move on to the Building Science stuff. My instructor closed day 1 early because he said we all had the “deer in the headlight look” and took us all out for pizza and beer! Most of us went back and took Lvl I and beyond.

This IR Training Gig was just another income opportunity. As his collaborator Will Decker stated, “John took over and ran with it”. John accused me of trying to steal his gig because I offered to help out if he needed anything after one of his first road trips to Nashville. He viewed this as a hostile takeover.

John did a lot, and helped a lot of people get started.
But all that bashing you perceive as "Childish " was not people being jealous, it was because when confronted with the facts, he refused to graciously accept it and apparently felt it as a threat to his NACHI Empire.

David, my memory is very good. I remember what transpired on and off the message board.
I suggest looking into his training and certifications. Not ones, or lack thereof, made up.
Jim S might know.

I was there. He didn’t have no Lvl II when he was developing and teaching this course. What he finally did in his later years is not material to this conversation.

If he was trained above the level he was bashing, why didn’t he go back and update his course?

He used my thermal scans without permission at a time one of your countrymen was kicked out of NACHI for stealing a camera modification I designed and posted. I did not say anything about either of these acts, but it’s a fact you know nothing about. So you may have a good memory, but only the facts you are privy to matter to me.

I sure hope your not implying I make things up… :thinking:

Here is what I know about John McKenna.

He called me and asked him to collaberate on a thermal class. He said he would do the 2nd part and asked me to do the first part (the science and thermodynamics part). He told me that we could both make money teaching it around the country, that he would take the south and I could take the north.

When I finished my part, He took it and started teaching it. He put off sending me his part, even as I asked him for it for a couple of months. When he finally did, it was really not that good. Very simple ‘everything that is cold is wet’ kind of stuff. Pretty pictures, but vert low resolution.

OK, fine. He had the drive and I did not.

THEN. to took it to NACHI TV and did his course there, as part of the IR Certified program, in its early stages.

The on-line class was really not that good, and worst of all (from a teaching POV) it was boring. John was not a good teacher.

In 2009, Ben Gromiko asked me to do an on-line class, the existing Thermal Imaging and Building Science course now used for CE. The new course, which I am going to Boulder to tape next week, is completely new, will have much higher production values and will have the benefit of my finishing Lvl II and Lvl III training in the middle.

For the record, I got paid by NACHI for that 2009 class. I also presented it at conventions (for CE credit) in Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio for which I received NO pay except that they paid for my motel room and bought me lunch both days (each was a two day class. I have also presented a thermal imaging, water intrusion class at Infraspection, as well as multiple CE qualified courses for our Chicagoland NACHI Chapter. I was not paid for any of those. There is an old saw, very relevant around here (mostly applying to old ASHI guys), that old inspectors to not die, they just start teaching CE. I do not want to fall into that role too badly, but if I do, I will do my darndest to make sure that people get what they pay for.

I guess that Ben wants to upgrade the NACHI education, and the IR Cert, making it more professional.

Any time someone wants to do a better job or improve an existing one, I am all for it.


Received your course file Will.

I promise for the record, I wont steal anything and make a $Million off it and not share the wealth. :wink:

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