What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

Not Every Little Breeze Seems To Whisper Louise...

This is a 15 year old house.  My clients have lived there from day one.  They wanted an inspection, and in particular a thermal image inspection.  There are hot and cold spots.

One complaint the woman has is that when she sits at the dining room table, a mere 6' from that window, she feels a breeze on her feet.  She asked me if she is crazy.  "How is it possible to feel a breeze on my feet?"  Well, THAT is a good question.

The dining room has a bay window.  There is a center picture window, and two side double-hung sash windows.

In the thermal images to the right, cool air is represented as purple, blue and lavender.  The right image is the of right side of the bay window, and the left is of the left side.  Imagine them together.

The homeowners have done the best things they can to try to make this bay window energy efficient. 

There are double-cell blinds on all three windows, very insulative.  Notice the warmest temperature in the images is the picture window, protected by those blinds.  There are drapes over both of the sash windows.  The drapes go to the floor.  The windows are double pane of course, and as good as they could buy 15 years ago.  Double-pane windows are efficient as far as the glass goes.  Air leakage typically occurs around the window that moves where it rests in the sash.

There are some things clearly visible here, and they are instructive.  The center picture window has little insulation around it, visible as the purple stripe on the sill.  The blinds and drapes are doing very well.  The wall is basically insulated but not great.  And the floor is cold!  The purple you see is around 41F.  And look at how the cold air is crawling (breeze?) along the floor - this is exceptionally visible!

Here is another problem!

Look at the insulation under the bay window!  Very haphazardly placed batt fiberglass. Batt fiberglass is not the best insulator, but certainly common when the house was built.

Notice how the sides of the bay as it extends beyond the rim joist of the house are not insulated!

That will create more cold conditions!

As cold air flows around and through the windows, is captured by the drapes and sent to the floor, it immediately mixes with warmer air causing it to move.  Where does it move?

ALONG THE HARDWOOD FLOOR!

Hence the breeze on the homeowner's feet during the meal!

Oh, and her name is not Louise...

My recommendation:  when you feel hot or cold areas, breezes or moving air, have a thermal image examination to pinpoint exactly where the problem is and what is causing it.  And improve insulation as needed!

 

 

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 28 commentsJay Markanich • March 30 2011 08:45AM

Comments

Excellent teacher.  Thanks.

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 -) over 7 years ago

Got you to crawl along the floor Ken?  It's amazing to see how the air moves, isn't it?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Just one more reason to hire THE EXPERT. Money as well as mental savings all around.

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 7 years ago

And this was not the only problem in that house Don!  Glad you enjoyed the post.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay ~  Excellent example of ways to improve our homes and exactly why and how important it is to hire a Professional such as Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC.

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 7 years ago

Thank you Tish!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, Is thermal imaging part of most inspectors' bag of services? Do such tools help on the other end of the temperature spectrum as with A/C losses and insulation from the summer heat?

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) over 7 years ago

You may have just resolve my "cold spot" by my dinning room table. Another great learning post! Thanks Jay!

Posted by Lydie Ouellet Dickinson, Realtor (Realty Executives Tri County, Bellingham MA) over 7 years ago

Brad - my understanding is that around 3-5% of home inspectors have and use IR cameras.  And sure, it can be used summer or winter!

Lydie - glad to solve that little mystery!  And thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I had a similar situation on a home less than 2 years old a few weeks ago. Bay windows like these I find often have insulation related problems. I once found one without any insulation!

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

Nice work, Detective.  Another mystery solved.

Posted by Jeremy Wrenn, Founder, Wrenn Home Improvements over 7 years ago

How cool is that? No pun intended. Thermal imaging to find cold spots, that is awesome.

Posted by Sam Fischer over 7 years ago

Jim - I remember a couple of your recent thermal posts.  What do you say we start a thermal image group on AR?  Together.  No kidding.  I don't know how to go about it, but it would be interesting to say the least.

I thought this one was interesting because you can virtually see the air moving along the floor.  Laying in front of the window you could feel it!  It was very interesting.  The lady was shocked!  Clients usually are...

Jeremy - not really.  I knew what the problem was when she said she felt a breeze!

Sam - that's what they do best!  An IR camera "sees," measures really, temperature differences to about 1/10th of a degree.  That image you see there represents about 307,000 individual temperature readings put together as an image in the color palette I selected.  I like that palette because I think it's logical - red is hot, blue is cold, more or less.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, aren't you the house detective?  I love how you've let the photos tell the story.

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Thanks Pat.  Without sounding out of line, when the lady asked me that question I knew what the problem was.  I suspect a couple of other thermographers on AR would have suspected what I did and was able to demonstrate.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Did you recommend she open her wall to re-insulate around the windows?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Jay,

When I saw the title I thought you were going to do a mod version of Louie Louie.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Reuben - no.  The insulation all around sucked.  The lower edge of those windows is covered by the wooden sill.  Looking around, all of the windows of the house were poorly insulated all around.  Typical of that time frame.  Now the builders are using a foam sealer.

Steve - you went from a musical to Louie Louie?  Was Nutsy on your shoulder whispering into your ear?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

 You would think in our not always sunny state of Wisconsin that there would be a zillion folks with thermal cameras....it is something you rarely hear about....great opportunity for someone with some ingenuity !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 7 years ago

S&D - I was way ahead of the loop, buying mine almost 8 years ago.  But still few inspectors have them.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, I want a thermal imaging camera.  I think they can be so useful for determining root causes and potential problem areas.  Good example of the type of issues we should be looking at when faced with a problem like this.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

Chris - I thought this was a very instructive post.  You can have a camera!  But if you use it for inspections, get lots of training!  If you use it at home, have some fun!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hey Jay-

Looks like they could freeze a block of ice on the floor, energy bill must be through the roof.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Eric - it wasn't that cold out and the floor was only a few degrees warmer than outdoors!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hey, Jay!  I included this post in today's Last Week's Favorites.  

Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Thank you Pat!  I'll let Louise know.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Birds in the trees seem to twitter "Louise".

Each little rose, tells me it knows...

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 7 years ago

That was very good Alan!  You are quite the poet!  Are your feet long fellows?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments