What I'm Seeing Now

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Our Family Room Is Freezing!

This is an easy one!  All you need is a website for people with a home inspection problem to find you, a car to get you to where they live, and some really cool tools, including an infrared camera.  Beyond that, knowing what you are doing is important, but you have already demonstrated that with your fabulous website!

Showing up at the house, you want to make sure the front porch ceiling is painted light blue!  When they are not, the IR camera can find things that perhaps you did not want to run into during the inspection!  If the porch ceiling is light blue, and the house thus guaranteed ghost free, just get started!

Rooms can be cold for these reasons:

1.  The windows.

2.  The insulation.

3.  The windows AND the insulation!

This house is five years old.  This high-ceilinged family room has always been cold.

Rooms with high ceilings are hard to heat.  The heat naturally rises and any cold naturally sinks.  Sometimes with an IR camera you can actually see stratification of the air temperatures in a room.  It can be a rather colorful display depending on the color palette a thermographer chooses to demonstrate it.

In the palette used here, blues and purples indicate cooler temperatures.  Certainly cooler temps can be seen all around this bank of windows.  The insulators did a poor job installing the insulation.  Either it was loosely attached (without staples) and sinking over time, or it is minimally present.  Either way this area will get cold.

But look, there is another problem.  Do you see the lavender area in the palladium window?  Its seal is beginning to break.  Double-pane windows have a seal all around which encases an argon gas inside.  This gas, along with any coatings on the glass, provides energy efficiency.  If the seal breaks and the gas dissipates, air gets introduced.  This brings in humidity (you have all seen perspiration inside of windows) and makes the window less efficient.

But as the glass loses that efficiency and cold gets through, it pulls the two panes of glass together.  The closer they are, the colder the two panes become.

Thermographers call this a "bull's eye" pattern.  You can see why!

This is a classic bull's eye.

Now look at the palladium window above and you can see the beginnings of that pattern.  That window is beginning to fail!

As it does, and gets worse, the problem in this room will get worse.

My recommendation:  Call a thermographer who can diagnose many different kinds of problems - temperatures, leaks, electrical, various!

Thermal infrared imaging - it's not just for leaking anymore!  Call your local, and very cute, thermographer!

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 50 commentsJay Markanich • October 24 2010 07:39AM

Comments

Good advice for home owners. Many will have a cold family room this winter.

 Chrysanthemums are blooming in Maryland.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) almost 8 years ago

This is interesting information.  I have one of those high ceiling rooms that is often cold.

Posted by Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh, A doctor who makes house calls. (Century 21 New Millennium) almost 8 years ago

Jay , I had a unique one or two like this.  Another one is an add on room built on a floating slab that shifted.  People let it go and there are gaps between the new structure and the old not visible to the eye but enough to let cold air in from underneath and between walls.

Posted by Stanley Stepak, Realtor - Avon Lake, Avon, Bay Village, Westlake, (Howard Hanna - Avon Lake, OH) almost 8 years ago

Jay, you are so informative! I will remain a subscriber to your blog forever (and it's not because you are so "cute").

Bob

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Bob Timm, Project Coordinator for Tivoli Homes (Tivoli Custom Homes) almost 8 years ago

Yet another reason a home inspection should include thermal imaging by someone who knows how to use it.  Thanks again for the lesson!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) almost 8 years ago

Jay, this is good information. Thermography is a great way to find problems early. Thanks.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 8 years ago

Oh cute thermographer...come on over....it's starting to get chilly in here !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 8 years ago

Thanks for sharing the information, it will be helpful to alot of people

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of Manchester NH's Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) almost 8 years ago

Hi Jay, thank you for pointing this out. I learned something new. I gather we would few more problems with properties if we were to begin to use thermography as a standard home inspection tool.

Posted by Richard Bazinet /MBA, CRS, ABR, Phoenix Scottsdale. Sellers, Buyers & Relocations (AZuRE Team - Realty ONE Group) almost 8 years ago

Jay, I'm glad you posted this blog... lots of good information to pass along to clients.. and for myself as well.  Time to replace some windows in my home.

 

Posted by Valerie Osterhoudt, ABR, Cromwell, CT Real Estate ~ 860.883.8889 (Johnson Real Estate, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

That is a neat camera you have there. I'd like to have one of those. Great information, thank you for the education.

Posted by Scott Baker, Realtor Homes for Sale in Cincinnati, West Chester, Mason, OH Area (www.eHomeReports.com Coldwell Banker West Shell) almost 8 years ago

Jay, one end of my house is 5 degrees hotter or colder than the other.  How can I get myself one of those thermography gadgets and see what is wrong?  I don't think Arkansas has a thermographer.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 8 years ago

Fantastic!  How much does an IR camera cost?

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) almost 8 years ago

Who knew there was such a great tool to help locate the reason for the cold air. What surprised me is when you said the home was only five year old. Wow! They sure don't make like the used to. You make me glad I choose a custom home with Anderson Windows.

Posted by Peggy James, Woodbridge Virginia Area Real Estate Specialist (EXIT Realty Associates) almost 8 years ago

Fascinating and well put together post......well done and thank you. Who amongst us hasn't had a cold room and feet to prove it...?

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 8 years ago

Only 5 years old and that window is failing already? Wow, no cheap fix to their heating issue there.

Posted by David Niles (Niles Real Estate Investments www.NilesREI.com) almost 8 years ago

Not only do I learn a thing or two, i luv the pictures (images) . Frame some lol

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) almost 8 years ago

Thanks for the post today, it's appreciated. Have a great day.

Patricia/Seacoast NH

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) almost 8 years ago

Pretty cool (and educational) pics there, Jay.  I know that this would vary according to location but what is the estimated price range for a thermographer to come out and do this?

Posted by Roger Johnson, Realtor - Hickory NC Real Estate (Hickory Real Estate Group) almost 8 years ago

good stuff jay -- i would love to see a comprehensive review of window manufacturers and installers as well as builders and insulators by region/area using this technology -- this way, one would really know who makes good products and sells good services.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) almost 8 years ago

Wow, this is some great info!  I never thought about that.  The pictures were great!

Posted by Chris Alston, Silicon Valley, California (Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California)) almost 8 years ago

Those pictures are amazing. Can you tell if a roast is done on a bbq grill with that thing? Just curious.

Posted by Eric Michael, Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519 (Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI) almost 8 years ago

Jay, great blog!  I am ready to call the cute thermographer....what is HER number?

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) almost 8 years ago

Roy - that they will, particular with high walls!

Stacey-Ann - check around for a good IR guy and see what you can see! 

Stan - the ooooold hidden slab crack!  You are right, gaps like that can really influence a room or addition.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Thank you Bob!  And you may not have noticed, but cuteness comes with the cameras and are awarded to all who purchase one.  We even get a T-shirt!

Kathryn - I could write a hundred blogs just on IR.  Maybe it's time to hit this hard and start changing an attitude nationwide.

Michael - early is always the best time!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

I've got one more to add to the list - no heat coming out of the registers.  I found found three different heat registers at two different homes in the last week that didn't have any heat coming out.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) almost 8 years ago

S&D - I would love to but I am sure there is a cute one nearby!  Although, Thanksgiving is coming up and I remember your posts...

Scott - that is the idea my friend!

Richard - I have been saying for years that IR will come as a part of every home inspection ...  but I have been wrong for years!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Valerie - don't get cheap ones and be sure they are installed on the proper side of the house.  Some coatings are meant for the warmer side and some for the cooler side!  Check it out...

You are very welcome Scott - and you CAN get you one of those!  Pony up, though, and don't get a cheap one! 

Barbara - I bet Arkansas does have one or two!  Your problem sounds like a balance problem caused by no or improperly adjusted duct dampers.  Nutsy can actually crawl in there and tell you about your duct damper situation...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Kenneth - the prices are coming down, about half now than when I bought mine 7 years ago.  But look into the good ones - they range from $7 or 8K to around $11K.  It can go up from there too!

Peggy - that bull's eye picture is an Anderson window.  They had a huge problem with windows installed between '90 or so and the early part of this century.  They have gone around and made repairs too!

The window quality is important, but installation is a huge factor as well.  If not installed properly, or poorly insulated around them, a good-quality window is not good!

Richie - my daughter's room is cold and I cannot figure out why!  So much for being an experienced inspector!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

David - not cheap, you are right!  That bigger window in the image is about 3.5x6'.  That is a huge area to provide such little thermal protection.

Don - I would love to, but my camera (and software) is so old (7 years) I cannot blow them up and retain any sort of image quality!

Patricia - I am glad that you are glad!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Roger - I don't know what others charge, but I start at $400.  If it is coupled with a home inspection I charge $300.  To me that is cheap at twice the price.

Chris O. - windows are important, but the installation is even more important.  You can crappify good windows with an improper installation or insulation!

I invented that word just for you...

Chris A. - I probably am thinking a thousand things when I walk into a home that you have never thought of!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Eric - for sure!  It sees temperatures to within 1/10th of a degree Fahrenheit!  How do you like your roast?

Damon - don't know any HERS, but if there is one she probably looks great in the cute thermographer T-shirt!

Gee, Reubs, you think that makes a difference?  Another thing is leaking conditioned air from around where the duct meets the register and BEFORE it gets to the outside.  The underside of the flooring is comfy though...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay, the colors in the blog are a week early. Halloween is next week. I definitely need to get one of those cameras to shine at my wife's feet before she comes to bed. Wrong color, wrong bed

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

The Thermal Imaging technology has come a long way in a short period. Have the prices come down on the units?

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

If cute is the key, as to the tech, then I think Nutsy needs to borrow your gear since he cannot afford his own.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Jay ~  Congratulations on the Feature!  This is so timely and we see these windows with broken seals all the time -- especially at the beach where people just love to slam those sliding glass doors!

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) almost 8 years ago

I would pay big money to have my family room freezing down here in Austin!  Well, I guess I do.

Posted by Alex Morris - Austin Real Estate Agent almost 8 years ago

Jay...

This is an awesome way to check for thermal problems! Especially looks very useful to check windows!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) almost 8 years ago

Hey Ed - I can tell you that when you think your wife's feet are cold, they really are!  And when she says she is having a hot flash, she really is!

Richard - the one I use, which was state of the art 7 years ago (RAZ-IR) has come down to about $7500.  I bought it at almost twice that.  The good ones are still around $10K.

Steve - my "gear" is simply the universal thermographer's T-shirt that we all get when we sign on to the technology...     ;)

The cuteness is genetic...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Tish - windows get broken seals from use, as you say, and also from wind deflection.  The window above is on the weather side of the house, and gets the wind.  That window is about 6'x3' and that is a lot of square footage of space that has an R-value of about 1.5.

The best energy-efficient windows have just about a 10 R-value.  The worst are around 2.5-3.  Those windows probably originally were 3-5, but I don't know.  However, with a broken seal the R-value is much less, between 1 and 2.

Alex - I see your tongue bulging out your cheek...

Richard - checking the windows and AROUND the windows is a significant check.  It's probably the best energy check inside the home - well, include doors and insulation with that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

That tool is so cool. Now, if we could combine that w/ my laser, the customers would be in absolute awe.  Congrats on the feature.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 8 years ago

Thanks Debbie.  I have been in awe since buying it.  I had one of those laser tape measurers years ago and the sucker never worked right.  I am far more accurate measuring a 20' room with my feet, usually to within 1" (my foot, like Charlemagne's, is exactly 12" long...  that's where we got the measurement of a "foot").

Would this have made you as mad as it did this person?

http://activerain.com/blogsview/1170116/thermal-image-of-my-wife-s-hot-flash

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay,

That is just flat out the coolest man toy around. Where can I buy one?

-Brent

Posted by Brent & Deb Wells, Prosper TX (LivingWell Properties) almost 8 years ago

Brent - contact any of the many manufacturers!  I have the RAZ-IR, but they are manufactured by FLIR and Fluke as well.

Don't go cheap!  They aren't worth it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Very cool stuff, Jay. The images really capture the temperature--I'm sure this would actually be a fun thing for consumers to do. Sign me up!

Posted by Aaron Seekford, Ranked Top 1% Nationwide 703-836-6116 (Arlington Realty, Inc.) almost 8 years ago

Aaron - on a 20 degree F day, that large palladium window, with no seal, would be about 25 degrees.  That is very inefficient!  And that will influence a room!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Jay, is that a guarantee of being ghost free???? Do you have a meter to check that? :D

Seriously, great post. Addressing those cold spots can sure help to save a bundle! Addressing the ghosts is a whole 'nuther story...

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 8 years ago

Andrea - I took Dr. Bunch's "American and Virginia Folklore" class at UVA.  And for sure, painting your porch ceiling light blue wards off ghosts!

My meter to check that is my IR camera.  Here is a recent post about my ghost friend Mosby:

http://activerain.com/blogsview/1910980/mosby-brings-a-friend

The camera does a great job of finding problems with cold or moisture too.  I use it for that now and again.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

Great article about infrared, most folks down here don't realize all the things that can be seen with the infrared camera.  That is one of the reasons that we decided to add it to our services, just so we can go one step beyond the normal to help the customer.

Posted by Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections, Experience the IHI Difference (IHI Home Inspections 404-788-2581) almost 8 years ago

D&B - that is why I did it so many years ago.  I was certainly the first around here, and still there is a huge mental paradigm shift that needs to take place among consumers and Realtors.  IR is the sharpest arrow in my quiver.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 8 years ago

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