Thermal Imaging

One of the things that sets The Real Estate Inspection Company apart from other inspection companies is our use of state-of-the-art equipment including FLIR® infrared thermal cameras. During a seller or home-buyer inspection, we’re able to detect thermal energy that can point out a number of potential problems that otherwise would be missed. Contact us at (800) 232-5180. We serve San Diego area and beyond.

Why Use an Infrared Camera?

Infrared cameras are the latest technology being used for fast, reliable, accurate building diagnosis. They can detect a wide range of building problems, from evaluating Heating and AC system issues to identifying over-heated electrical panels and exploring the existence of moisture problems. Keep in mind that many bank-owned homes get a quick paint job for a fast sale, possibly covering up water stains that now won’t be visible to the naked eye.

Several home inspection companies offer Infrared services, but not all equipment is the same. Just like any line of cameras, there are low end and high end ones. We use the best high-end FLIR infrared thermal imaging cameras. Our cameras provide a better resolution, which results in more accurate inspections. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends a thermographic inspection be performed on homes. For home buyers and sellers, thermal imaging provides valuable information that can help in your decision to buy or list a house.

How Does Thermal Imaging Work?

Thermal, or infrared energy, is the light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye. It’s the part of the light spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light, in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes, emit infrared energy. The higher the object’s temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted.

Thermography is the use of an infrared imaging and measurement camera to “see” and “measure” thermal energy emitted from an object. It is not a moisture meter and does not “see” moisture. Thermal scanning helps the inspector detect temperature differences and anomalies that can be caused by moisture. When two areas composed of the same or similar materials experience changing ambient temperatures, the area with the higher thermal mass (usually moisture) will change temperature more slowly.

Our Process

Evaluating a home with a thermal imaging camera is a simple process, but one that most home inspectors don’t do because of the expense. Cameras are pricey, ranging from $6,000 to $24,000. Here’s our process:

  • The first thing we do is let the water run through the drains of the toilets, sinks, showers, and dishwasher.
  • Depending on the ambient conditions at the house at the time of inspection, we may run hot or cold water. If the house is cold, hot water will show up better than cold water.
  • We may then use the HVAC system to help change the temperatures in the house.
  • The dry areas with less thermal mass will change temperature quickly. Areas with a higher thermal mass, which may include damp areas, will change temperature more slowly. These differences will be obvious when viewed through the infrared camera.

It is important to restate that infrared cameras do not see through walls, cabinets, or concrete. Rather, they show differences in the surface temperature of a material. It is these temperature differences that may indicate moisture or another anomaly such as missing insulation.

Our inspections tell the story of your house.

Infrared Technology at Work

Thermal Imaging Services in San Diego

The pictures at the left and right show an area that looked fine to the naked eye. After a quick scan with the infrared camera, you can see the wet carpet, which led to the discovery of a leak at the sliding glass door. The door was new, but the small drains at the track were clogged, causing the water to back up into the room.

Please note that an infrared camera is not a magic tool. It cannot determine if a leak will occur in the future if the area has had time to dry out. For example, if there has been no rain for several months, the infrared camera will not detect moisture from a roof leak since no moisture is present. It also cannot detect moisture behind cabinets, furniture, or deep within a structure.

High-Tech Thermal Imaging Camera in San Diego CA
We use the latest Infrared Thermal Imaging Cameras
Home Leaks in San Diego CA
Picture of carpet that appears dry

An infrared camera allows us to see what our eyes cannot. The picture to the left shows a leak above the French doors. This was a freshly painted “flip” house that looked perfect inside. The infrared camera helped find this leak by showing the inspector the dramatic difference in temperature. The wet areas remained cold while the dry area to the left was warmed by running the furnace.

Professional Thermal Imaging Inspections in San Diego CA
Same image as seen through IR camera
San Diego CA Expert Thermal Imaging Inspections
Infrared Before and After

Another interesting feature of the picture shows the diminished thermal efficiency of the failed windowpane at the left side door. You can see how it is cloudy at left. On the right side, more heat is entering the house through the failed window than the intact window.

Other Inspection Services

In addition to thermal imaging, The Real Estate Inspection Company offers several more inspection services that protect and inform our clients:

Information-Packed Reports

We’re proud of the peer-reviewed, multi-media reports we create for our clients. They contain the following:

  • Pictures
  • Embedded videos
  • Tips
  • Diagrams
  • Thermal imaging pictures
  • Report summary with a list of repair items that functions as a repair list
  • Insurance information sheet
  • PDF version of report for emailing and downloading

Overall, we’ve found that most of our clients get a return of three to four times the cost of the inspection in seller concessions. The combined inspector experience that goes into each report is unmatched in Southern California.

it doesn’t end there. We’ve discovered a way to deal with one of the most stressful parts of the buying process. Our affiliation with TheQwikFix now makes it easy to get timely quotes and repairs for remediation that are necessary to escrow, just by clicking a link. You read that right. No running around in a scheduling nightmare trying to locate contractors at the nth hour. It can all be arranged just by clicking a link embedded in your report email.

View Sample Report

Certified Home Inspectors

When evaluating which inspection company to use for your home inspection, please consider the advantage a thermal camera gives our certified inspectors during a home inspection. The Real Estate Inspection Company is committed to the value of this technology, and we use infrared cameras at every inspection. For more information, call (800) 232-5180. We service San Diego County, Orange County, and Riverside County.

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