Infrared (IR) cameras are quickly becoming an indispensable tool for home inspectors. Reading the thermal images produced by an infrared camera during an inspection allows for quick and accurate identification of defects that may not always be immediately apparent to the naked eye. Infrared imaging is especially useful when looking for air leaks, including insulation defects, during an energy audit because it allows the inspector to actually view the apparent temperatures in a given area.
By purposely controlling the temperature and air pressure in the interior of a house, air can be forced inside through cracks and holes. Using an infrared camera, the sources of these air leaks can be quickly located and visually documented. Areas of insufficient insulation also become more apparent when viewed through an infrared camera and can be visually documented, as well.
How It Works
While there are other infrared tools available, such as spot radiometers and thermal line scanners, a thermal imaging camera is the most accurate device to use for energy-audit inspections. The camera reads infrared radiation in order to express heat differences and temperature signatures.
The camera sees light that is within the heat spectrum that exists just beyond the spectrum that can be seen with the naked eye. Differing heat signatures are displayed in the camera's viewfinder as a gradient color scheme, with hotter areas displayed as brighter colors, and cooler areas as darker colors.
An inspector can view this information on the camera in order to make observations and find defects. By viewing the hottest and coldest areas, inspectors can collect valuable data about the building envelope. Images taken with the IR camera can be included alongside digital photos of the same problem area in the inspection report.