When do you use your IR Camera

I have been searching the forum and have been unable to locate any specific info on when inspectors are using their IR cameras during an inspection. I am trying to figure out how I would incorporate this into my inspections as I can only imagine it will add time?

Do you guys scan the entire home during the inspection or just if you find something that you want to investigate further?

I am really trying to figure out what your typical inspection looks like when using your IR camera?

Thanks for your help with this as I am just trying to wrap my head around how I might use an IR camera during my normal inspections.

What I recommend is setting up standard pattern that you use on each and every inspection when doing thermal imaging (for me, that is every home inspection). The inside IR scan of the house should include ALL areas of the house (plus… basement and attic). Outside IR scans have be planned with regard to the time of day, in order to work within the delta-t windows that mother nature gives you.

Your inside IR scans also have to be done in relationship to what adjustments and manipulations you have to make to enhance the delta-t environment. This is a lengthy discussion and cannot be covered in a short post on the forum. There are too many dynamics at play all at one time and the thermographer must know how to respond to these issues on the fly, as well as proper planning.

Various materials also require special considerations regarding the delta-t factor. The delta-t window is opened (if possible) in order to bring sub-surface temperatures to the surface in order for your camera to see them. What you are looking for and how you set things in motion to “see these defects” can affect the “time” it takes to do the IR scan. When issues are found, then the verification process can also add time to to the IR scan.

Then, each type of defect that you are looking for may require a set of actions that must put into play before you actually start looking for the subsurface evidence that is hidden without these steps.

It can take as little as 20 minutes to do an inside IR scan of a house, if there nothing strange along the way. Sometime you discover things that can be time consuming to verify exactly what you have found. As you can see… your mileage may vary.

A poor resolution camera, fuzzy mk, and poor optics can make the IR scan go faster because your 50% blind to the defects and do not realize why you got done so fast and found no defects. Speed kills.

Get some training and learn these step by step methods regarding the various types of IR scans of the structural and mechanical systems in a building… plus the verification process, report writing, liability issues and tricks of the trade to “get IR done”. (I stole that line from David Anderson). :slight_smile:

I use it when I’m paid to perform a thermography inspection. I know that’s not the question you were asking, however for the extra time, equipment and training involved, you should be paid for your effort.

When you do perform a thermography inspection, it should be integrated into your home inspection protocol. For instance: you want to check the electrical panel after you have created a load; You want to scan for moisture after you have operated the plumbing and A/C to increase chances of detecting leaks; You want to scan the interior after you have established a sufficient delta between conditioned and unconditioned space and allowed them to reach thermal equilibrium; You will want to have the house closed up and under negative pressure to enhance your ability to detect air leakage; there are many other things to consider such as solar loading, rain, verification of anomalies, etc.

Make sure you have adequate training, equipment and a plan before you start advertising “thermal scans”.

My plan is to get the training for sure but I am just doing the research now to understand how I might plan on using the technology during an inspection. Just looking for information on how others use their when performing an inspection.

I too think it should be an additional charge but seems like everyone near me just throws it in which leads me to believe it might be very limited in their use.

Some have purchased cheap cameras and made no investment in training. They offer their services for free and provide poor service, sometimes not even knowing how much harm they are doing.

Some realize that we are in a stage of market branding and thermal imaging is an emerging market. They treat this service like a loss leader at a grocery store and are trying to gain the dominance as the local expert at this time.

Others are failing and a sign that a business is going down the tube is that they keep lowering their prices all the way to the bottom.

DOes anyone else want to share with me how you use your cameras during a normal home inspection?

Are you charging extra for the service or is it included in your normal rates? Di your normal rates go up because you include the service?

This would help me out a lot of you could share your useage with me as like I mentioned before I am trying to figure out how best to incorporate the use in my inspections. I do not see myself just doing thermal imaging as a stand alone service for at least a year or so to get better at it.

Thanks again!

With only twenty hours or so of training with John Mckenna and on Internachi, and having my camera for only two weeks, I am not confident yet that I can provide thermal imaging as a paid service. However, I am practicing a lot on the paid inspections, often determining what known defects look like in a scan and making mental notes. Probably after about six months of “field” training, I will offer it as a service. You can be sure I will charge more for a home inspection when offering thermal, or charge accordingly for the stand alone service. So yes, it adds value to your service, if that is what you are asking. It is just another tool, but it definitely is a useful one.

And most don’t have any training. So get some and be better and charge more it will work better and you will be better.

I think that more informed buyers are willing to pay an additional fee for the infrared service and it is up to the home inspector to find out what the client’s desire is during the telephone interview process. I included infrared photos in an inspection report this week that pointed out air leaks in ductwork joints. I also saw a competitor’s report today that had a few photos. In my market many inspectors advertise “infrared” photos on their web page. The problem I see is that the client may think they are getting a whole house imaging when only the inspector uses infrared in a few places.

I include thermal with my home inspections and I look at everything that I am able to. We don’t schedule our home inspections based on when optimal delta t, but we can if they have concerns that can be checked thermally. In my opinion, thermal imaging helps me do a better job and differentiates me from the competition. Could I charge more for it? Yes. It would mean that everyone wouldn’t get the service and I want people to know everything about their house that I can tell them. I normally do thermal imaging at end of inspection.

I use my thermal camera on every inspection, just as I would a flashlight.

I will not document anything in the inspection report that is solely supported by thermal imaging. If the client wants it, they can pay for it as an add-on.

If you can find something like a hot circuit breaker and you look a little closer and find a melted wire to take a picture of, then you have a digital picture to document the issue.

However, if you’re going to recommend further evaluation by an electrician (who does not have a thermal camera) for a situation that is totally thermal, then you better have processed everything correctly. This means that you determine emissivity, identify T reflect, determine transmissivity when required, measured distance, identify and calculate a comparative object (a normal breaker or the local ambient). If it’s moisture you must calculate and determine the wetbulb temperature so you can tell if your anomaly is moisture or air or both…

Failure to take all the steps (and be trained to do so) opens yourself up to liability from someone more qualified than you to come behind you and call you an idiot from the witness stand!


When you say if you are going to recommend further evaluation you say the inspector should have processed everything correctly. Does this mean documenting the settings or adjustments in the client’s report or in your inspection notes should you end up having to refer to the image analysis? Thanks for this post!

Your web site does not indicate that you have had any training in IR if you have had training you should advertise it and charge more;-)

This along with other tools to determine what the problem is. And you need training for those tools as well.

When you push the shutter button on your thermal camera, all that data is recorded in the scan.

If you call something out because it is too hot, moisture instead of air, or any other procedure that you are capable of with the thermal imaging equipment and you had not performed the necessary criteria to make that determination rather than simply looking at pretty colored pictures and you come up against a lawyer with a level III thermography or on retainer, your butt is in the ringer.

If you cannot duplicate the test procedure and demonstrate how you came to your conclusion, you are simply wrong and will pay for it.

This is not just about thermal imaging but everything you do as a home inspector. If you recommend further evaluation without cause, you’re responsible for the monetary loss to all parties involved. The chance of getting caught are slim, but when you do it will cost dearly.

Some other stuff besides what people said,
Heating cooling, take a picture of the register or radiator, temp recorded.
Windows and doors that are closed, check for air leaks,
Freezer temp, (should be ~-18 C or 0 F) Fridge temp (~3-4 C 35-38 F)
Oven burners are working (pic)
Attic temp recorded (make sure conditions are noted, eg, exposed to sun, or not)