Infrared scan of attic hatch (C) D Friedman S Bliss PEP Advice on Using Infra Red & Thermal Scanners for Tracing Heat Loss

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Where to buy infrared scanners & thermography equipment: This article discusses sources of thermal scanners, IR scanners, thermography cameras and other tools used for the detection of heat loss or air infiltration in buildings.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Suppliers of IR InfraRed Scanners, Thermography, Thermal Scanning Equipment

The accompanying text are reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss. The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

Information on Thermal Scanners


I would like some information on the AGA 782 thermal scanner shown on the opening page of "House Doctors with Better Medicine" (Solar Age 9/84 p. 27.) Are there many other companies that sell thermal scanners? -- Leon Grant, Dover NJ


Advice on Using IR Infrared Scanning Equipment for Building Surveys

We have made regular use of small hand-held IR or thermal scanner equipment in building inspection surveys for nearly twenty years. The two most common uses we've made of the equipment include: [-DF]

  1. Heat Loss: Surveying buildings for variations in temperature, indicating areas of heat loss: air bypass leaks, missing insulation. In addition to spotting specific "cold spots", if there is a significant temperature difference between indoors and outside, thermography can quickly identify compare temperatures on interior partitions with exterior walls.
  2. Leaks: Surveying buildings for evidence of recent leaks, wet insulation in building cavities. Be careful: an old leak into a building cavity may have completely dried out, producing no IR detectable information, but problematic mold, rot, or insect damage could be present. Visual evidence of building leak history and a recording of building details likely to have led to leaks or water entry are important.
  3. Electrical overheating: a number of home inspectors have successfully used IR and thermography to identify overheating electrical components at electrical panels, electrical switches or receptacles, at wiring serving electric heating baseboards, and where aluminum branch circuit wiring is installed. Overheating electric motors, compressors, and even blower fan bearings can be observed using these methods as well, provided that you have a baseline of normal temperatures.

    See ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS for an example of aluminum wiring overheating shown in the two photographs below.
Photograph of  this overheating and improperly-made aluminum to copper pigtail splice. Photograph of  this overheating and improperly-made aluminum to copper pigtail splice.

Thermography Education and Training

Readers wishing training on use of thermography, IR or infra red equipment, for building surveys or other applications, should also contact the Institute of Infrared Thermography.

The question-and-answer article about sources and use of infrared thermal scanners and heat loss detection equipment, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is followed by an expanded/updated online version of this article.

Questionable use of Thermography and IR Scanning

  1. "Toxic Black Mold Scanner": We investigated in detail a case of ineffective mold remediation at a property in which the mold remediation company used an IR scanner to "tell the building owner where the mold was". This was as unreliable and nonsensical as the window replacement company salesmen who used to use a camera light meter (which pegged its needle whenever exposed to brighter light at any building window) to identify "leaky windows".

    See MOLD SPRAYS, SEALANTS, PAINTS for details about this case. Like some other practices of questionable honesty, there was an element of truth to the remediator's pitch: if indeed there had been a recent water leak into a building cavity, the IR scanner should be expected to pick up a temperature difference at that location. And since a water leak into a wall can cause mold, there might be a mold risk. But
    • numerous other building conditions produce temperature differences without growing toxic mold
    • a prior leak may have dried, producing no thermal evidence
    • other conditions may have produced a problem mold reservoir without any thermal evidence

In fact there was a problem mold reservoir in the building, but it was nowhere near any of the locations where the remediator had, based on his thermal camera results, poked tiny holes and sprayed "mold killer" into the building walls. Also see MOLD KILLING GUIDE for an explanation of the compound error of using an unreliable (but quick and easy) camera to scan for mold combined with spraying to try to kill it.


Continue reading at THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see THERMAL TRACKING BRIDGING GHOSTING for an example of visual clues that identify building air leaks and heat loss with no instruments whatsoever.

The IR thermal imaging photo at page top is discussed at BASEMENT HEAT LOSS DETECTION.

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