What I'm Seeing Now

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I Was Called To Find One Problem, But Found Another Instead!

Doing inspections with a thermal image camera is a bit art and a bit science.  In this house I was called to find one problem, but found another instead!

This house had a basement with moisture problems in the past.  A company was called to fix them and dry out the basement.  It seemed to have worked.  But the homeowner felt that the basement was very humid and wondered if the basement was leaking again.  He was referred to me, called and I went over.

Not a single problem anywhere!  No moisture!  Nothing!  And in the last month we have had lots of rain!

While I was downstairs the door bell rang.  A neighbor wanted to talk over something regarding the neighborhood.  While the homeowner and neighbor were out front, I helped myself to the rest of the house, with my camera!

The image on the left views  the ceiling over the door leading from the kitchen to the rear deck.

And to the right is the corner of the high-ceiling family room!

Those lavender, blue and purple areas are moisture!  And very current!

Going outside both spots had problems with the gutters - they weren't attached well to the house and both were full of debris.

It looked to me that these gutters had been like this for a while.

This homeowner had been looking down, and instead should have been looking up!

Well, now that these problems were found, things were looking up!  I recommended that the gutters be repaired and cleaned, and because of the proximity of many large trees in back I also recommended the installation of solid gutter covers.

I did not go up to the bedrooms and these are the only issues I found on the main level.  But the homeowner was impressed!  He said, "I called you thinking I needed one thing but not knowing what I really needed."

My recommendation:  you can't always get what you want, but when you try, sometimes, you just might find, YOU GET WHAT YOU NEED!  And what most people really need is just a phone call away...  And call an experienced one!  And, as you know, the home inspectors who do thermal imaging are really cute.

 

 

 

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 58 commentsJay Markanich • October 15 2011 07:00AM

Comments

Those cameras are amazing. From now on I will ask  buyers to ask the inspectors if they use these cameras before they hire them.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 9 years ago

Ah yes, you get what you need.  Nice R.S. reference Jay and well done on finding their "new" issue.

Posted by Anita Clark, Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA (Coldwell Banker Access Realty ~ 478.960.8055) almost 9 years ago

That goes to show you how valuable a thorough inspector can be just what's needed! 

Posted by Laura Giannotta, Your Realtor Down the Shore! (Keller Williams Realty - Atlantic Shore ) almost 9 years ago

Jay-love your recommendations! Moisture if unattended can create major havoc.

 

Best

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) almost 9 years ago
Great post. Thanks for the info. Keep up the good work. Good luck.
Posted by JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 (Village Properties of Mineola, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Gita - that is a different inspection than my regular, although I will tack it on to my regular inspection for an additional fee.

Anita - well, I had some time, so why not have some more fun!

Laura - thermal cameras often discover previously unknown stuff!

Adrian - thanks, and all true!  It needs attention now, and certainly before more leaves and snow!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Nice job.  It's important to work w/ someone who looks beyond the original question/need.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) almost 9 years ago

Thanks Josh, and I intend to!

Debbie - I had some free time, so why not!  You never know what will pop up!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Good morning Jay;  Interesting post.  Nice to have that special camera.  Good job inspector.

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 9 years ago

That camera is the sharpest arrow in my quiver Ken.

Or so I say!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Good morning Jay. What a terrific post. In life, at home, or in any arena, you don't always get what you want but if Jay is involved you surely get a good eye and value for service.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) almost 9 years ago

Great find Jay!  Tell me about solid gutter covers.  How does the water get in them?

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) almost 9 years ago

Good morning Jay. I love the pics from a infrared camera. What a great tool for looking inside walls and finding moisture.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) almost 9 years ago

We try Sheila.  Nobody is perfect!  And thanks!

Coral - they have kiosk displays at Sam's Club and Costco, but I don't know what brand they sell.  The original one is here:  

http://www.gutterhelmet.com/

My buddy Chris has the K-Guard distributorship in our area.  He is here:

http://www.kguard.com/dealer-listing/index.php?dealerState=VA

K-Guard is different.  It is an entirely new gutter, with a flip top.  They work great.

Water essentially wicks into the gutter through a space too small for leaves and debris.  They work very well.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

They see temperature differences, Randy.  And on that day the cooler temps were about 5F less than the surrounding area, indicating moisture.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

I did one yesterday and found the area quite large, but just a few small spots were showing on the ceiling. What did the moisture meter say? Damp or saturated?

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Jim - the family room was a 20' high cathedral and I did not have my ladder with me, thinking I was doing a basement!  The kitchen was damp, about 15%.  Clearly there was some infiltration.  Outside that spot there was half of the main house roof, half of the family room roof, a valley over the kitchen eating space that hit 12" above the corner of the family room all (mistake every time) and that kitchen roof all draining into a 6' gutter over that kitchen door!  And that gutter was loose with a dip in the middle.

Water goes where it can.  And that's a lot of square footage of water for such a small gutter.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Jay, very cool photos and great explanation!  I'm likin' that thermal imaging camera! (...and the expertise beind it of how to put it good use!)

Posted by Judith Sinnard, The SMARTePLAN Lady (SMARTePLANS; Houston, Texas) almost 9 years ago

I have had it for about 9 years Judith.  It is a wonderful device.  Expensive to buy and to get trained to use, but wonderful!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Jay -- Those are great pictures to illustrate what you found and the explanation for your client makes things so much better than just guessing.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 9 years ago

Jay, I found a local home inspector who has a thermal imaging camera.  We found so much more information with the use of it.  I will keep his cards handy.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) almost 9 years ago

Jay,

Great find. I keep toying with the idea of doing thermography. I right now just can not justify the expense.

Curious what camera do you use?

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Steven - I say thermal imaging is part art and part science.  You really need to use a moisture meter at the same time.  But the images are very definitive, huh?

Chris - good!  I may know him from the various inspector sites. 

Don - I have the RAZ-IR.  It is 9 years old, almost.  It still produces great images, but the newer software is much, much better than what I have.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

A little detective work can solve the crime Watson

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) almost 9 years ago

Thanks James.  This one worked out well.  I am glad I had some time to myself!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Hi Jay. You post misadventures in housing nearly every day! Do you ever NOT find something interesting in a house??

Posted by Tim Bradley, Commercial Real Estate Expert in Jackson Hole, WY (Contour Investment Properties) almost 9 years ago

Jay good job. Your smart in looking other places than where the home owner though the problem was. Water travels and ends up in places that are often far from the source. The thermal imaging camera is a great tool in the hands of a properly trained person.

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) almost 9 years ago

Am curious. Was there any signs of moisture in the ceilings of the rooms where you used the camera. From the images looks like there should have been some evidence of water especially in the family room?

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max By The Sea) almost 9 years ago

Sometimes things just work out that way. I love your thermo imaging pics.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) almost 9 years ago

Interesting post and information.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) almost 9 years ago

Valerie - the homeowner complained that they have to clean the gutters 5 or 6 times each year.  Why not get the solid covers!?

Tim - every house has something, but sometimes I don't find it!

Robert - I had some time so why not knock around!

NO evidence yet Bill.  I went to look in the basement, but these locations are upstairs!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Lyn - they are very fun and very instructive.  The images say quite a bit, usually.

Thanks Kimo.  Usually thermal images teach a lot of things.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

I have wanted one of those for a long time but didn't feel it would earn its keep.  Maybe I was wrong. I'd love to scope my own 110 year old house just to see all the air leaks - or maybe I'm better not knowing.  LOL

So it was a Rolling Stone type house. Love 'em.

 

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Marshall - mine broke even within a few months and I paid over $15K for it.  The other benefit is that since I was the first in the area to use it, I have ranking over everyone else and a reputation.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Here in Maryland we don't often get requests for thermal imaging, however an incoming buyer from Mississippi right after hurricane Katrina (2005) told me that many buyers there were using it to check for evidence of water damage from the hurricane.  They liked the idea, and wanted it for the purchase of their home in Maryland, so we found an inspector who offered the service.  They were very relieved when the only thing found was a small area in a second floor bathroom ceiling where insulation had shifted next to a skylight, leaving that small area under-insulated.

Posted by Pam Fiertz Meyers (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) almost 9 years ago

And that's the kind of good information the cameras can provide Pam.  And it's very useful information, with displayed images that are definitive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Jay: Thanks for sharing that very interesting information about your more extensive inspection and the equipment you use.  Do you charge extra for this camera usage?  Or, is it something you do on all your inspections?  Also, I am wondering what liability you may incur from doing a partial inspection of the house, if more damage is subsequently found that would have been revealed by a complete inspection?  How do you protect yourself?  It is a litigious world we live in.

Posted by Harry Morris (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Ambassador Real Estate Co) almost 9 years ago

Harry - yes, I do charge more.  The device and the training are very, very expensive.  The use of the camera requires the client to sign a separate agreement.  It is not part of a regular inspection - the client either wants a separate thermal exam or the examination of a particular thing, as in this instance.  I can only evaluate what I see on a particular day, and what the camera measures it measures.  I am not worried about liability - I am giving it my best shot.  To claim I was negligent would not fly.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Jay, I didn't realize the thermal cameras would pick up moisture problems. Is that because there is a corresponding temperature difference from the surrounding wood?

Posted by Tina Gleisner, Home Tips for Women (Home Tips for Women) almost 9 years ago

Not the wood necessarily, Tina, but the temperature of the moisture present.  Moisture could be present in the wood, as you can see here, and also in the insulation and drywall,and would be cooler or warmer depending on location and surrounding environment.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Lucky for those homeowners that they decided to investigate. And lucky that YOU are the one they chose to do it.

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) almost 9 years ago

Thank you Marte.  Fortunately I had some time to fool around!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Sound like you did a great job while you were waiting.  Good for you.  All the inspectors around here use mosture meters only as far as I know.  We have lots of moisture issue in the Pacifi NW.   Do you think teh moisture meters are enough?

Posted by Jirius Isaac, Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA (Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage) almost 9 years ago

I have heard about the Pacific Northwest, Jirius, as my son lives in Seattle!  Yes, I always accompany a thermal inspection with a moisture meter.  It is important to know how much moisture you are dealing with!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Jay...that is such a sweet system...inpsections have come a long way over the past 15 years.  I think an inspection would be worth it just for the infrared pictures of the ceiling and basement...let alone all the other things you do!!

Posted by Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker, Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940 (Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska) almost 9 years ago

Mike - those cameras add a whole other dimension to the process.  And add so much information.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Hi Jay, another excellent point.  Your photos are worth a thousand words!

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) almost 9 years ago

Thanks Bob!  That's exactly what my clients say!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago
I know of only one home inspector in this area that uses a thermo immage camera. He is also the only home inspector who stays busy now. He is at the top of my recommended list of inspectors.
Posted by Alan Grizzle, Full Time Realtor, Lifelong Resident of Dahlonega (Chestatee Real Estate) almost 9 years ago

That camera sounds like a great tool for a home detective like yourself.  One day I may have you bring to our home.  We've had some issues and can't seem to isolate where one window leak is coming from.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) almost 9 years ago

That is pretty interesting.  We don't have much call for that type of thing here in Phoenix, so this is the first time I have seen pictures from that type of camera.  Pretty cool.

Posted by Debora Nichols, Realtor Anthem,Phoenix,Scottsdale,Glendale,Peoria (Residential Sales, Purchases, Investors, Vacation Homes) almost 9 years ago

I don't know what the percentage of inspectors who use thermal imaging is, Alan, but I understand it is less than 5%.

Chris Ann - just call me and I can stop by.  I don't have puffy bunny slippers though.

Debora - last time I was in Phoenix, the house I visted had rotting roof and carport sections all over the place!  But the camera can be used for a variety of things.  See the thermal image tab on my website.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

Great blog.  I want one of those cameras for myself.  Looks like a lot of fun.  Not sure what I would do with it though.  LOL.

Posted by Eric Krebs (Surf and Country Realty) almost 9 years ago

Eric - I went to a conference once and walked outside during a break, and someone there with a thermal camera was imaging a bunch of butt cracks, all lined up waiting their turn!  Now there's a thermal image that's hard to get out of the head!

I couldn't believe it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

I love thermal imaging.  It is an amazing tool.  It's scary what is inside the walls that we can't see.  Nice job. -Kasey

Posted by Kasey & John Boles, Boise & Meridian, ID Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties (Jon Gosche Real Estate, LLC - BoiseMeridianRealEstate.com) almost 9 years ago

Kasey - I enjoy using it and finding things previously unknown.  My clients are usually amazed and very happy with the results.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 9 years ago

That looks like a lot of moisture!! Those cameras are really cool and can definitely show a lot more than we can find with our eyes alone!

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta (Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765) over 8 years ago

Thanks Sylvie.  An oldie but a goodie!  These cameras see lots of stuff, to be sure!

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

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