Infrared (IR) cameras are quickly becoming an indispensable tool for insulation installers. Reading the thermal images produced by an infrared camera during an insulation inspection allows for quick and accurate identification of defects that may not always be immediately apparent to the naked eye.
Setting Up for a Thermal Imaging Inspection
Because the IR camera shows differences in heat signatures for a given area, it is important to set up the testing conditions so that the temperature difference between the interior of the house and the air outside is as large as possible. The peaks of the heating and cooling seasons for any region are generally optimal times to gather thermal imaging data, since heat or air conditioning can be run in order to maximize the temperature difference.
All windows and exterior doors should be closed during testing. It is also helpful to move furniture away from walls so that they don't block baseboards, and to remove curtains and blinds (or secure them out of the way) so that accurate readings can be taken at areas typical for leaking air, such as at floor-wall joints and window frames.
Achieving a 15° to 20º difference in temperature is ideal. The heat or air conditioning should then be turned off, and the inspector should wait at least 15 minutes before commencing with the IR inspection.
Potential Insulation Defects
Once a solid difference in temperature has been established between the interior and exterior of the house, insulation defects can be viewed by the camera. By looking at the difference in apparent temperatures, hot and cold spots can be identified as areas that may have missing or inadequate insulation. If a potential problem area is pinpointed using the infrared camera, the insulation in that spot should be examined to verify that it is an issue and to gather more details on the exact nature of the insulation problem. Was insulation moved during a fixture installation and not properly replaced? Is the thickness of the insulation inadequate for the application? These are the types of details installers can gather after locating an issue with the insulation.
The image above shows wet and settling blown-in cellulose insulation. This commonly happens with this type of insulation after a few years
Your client's house is more than likely insulated, but that doesn’t mean it’s properly insulated. This is an amazing opportunity for you to capitalize by showing the client where your expertise is needed. Providing both before and after images of your work through the lens of a thermal camera is definitely going to help set you apart as a professional. Thermal imaging cameras can not only find areas of improper insulation but also water and moisture intrusion areas, as well as, places where cold air is blowing through the insulation and through electrical receptacle boxes. While performing your thermal scan be sure to double check any cold or discolored readings with a moisture meter to verify if it is moisture or if it’s just missing or improperly installed insulation.
This image shows an area of cold air infiltration into the house through an electrical outlet.
Current energy codes call for all such openings to be sealed against cold air infiltration, but in this case, the problem was having the insulation installed by a non-professional installer.
If you would like a Certified Residential Thermographer to Inspect your home or office please visit us at www.CatalystInfrared.com. We serve Loveland, Colorado, Fort Collins, Colorado, Northern Colorado, and Southern Wyoming.