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Thermal Imaging - Using Different Palettes Can Lend More Information

When doing reports for thermal imaging - using different palettes can lend more information.

A palette is defined as the board which an artist uses to lay and mix colors.  Thermal imaging programs come with a variety of color palettes which a thermographer can choose from.

When doing thermal imaging reports, I like to use the palette that demonstrates warmer temperatures with orange and yellow and cooler temperatures with lavender, blue and purple.

To me this palette seems logical, as it would to the recipient of the report who has little experience with thermal imaging technology.

For instance, a client calls to say that a room is particularly cold.

When doing a thermal image sweep of the room and you see this pattern all along a high, large, exterior wall, and can show them that the purple spots are 38 degrees Fahrenheit and the orange 69F, the image gives a pretty good indication that the insulation has slipped inside the wall.

It is hard to argue that part of the wall is warm and part is cool because the insulation is not slipping or poorly placed.

When on a one-year warranty inspection and a client has this image (along with others) to show to a builder, the builder knows exactly what the problem is.  This palette is logical, and all understand.

However, when looking at the siding on the outside of a condo building, where there are also general complaints of cold rooms, without even going inside it is possible to see heat loss.

In this case the palette on the far right is understandable.  The warm areas are evident.

But look how the red/green palette lends more information!  It looks as if the heat is dripping out and downward from between the siding strips.  That is an insulation problem!

While first introduced to thermal imaging, the red/green palette may not be so logical, or understandable, but when coupled with the other image it becomes very instructive.

Surprisingly, the black/white palette is very good to use with water leaks.

This leak is very easy to see, in each palette.

But some are not.  The black/white palette is very revealing for smaller leaks, or to find trails.

A friend of mine, who is one of the original thermographers in the country, and now runs a training institute, says that it is his opinion that the black/white palette is the best to use for water leak discovery.  And particularly with windows!

I use this palette all the time when doing my research and report compilation.  But it isn't very sexy to give black and white images to clients on their reports!  So I stick to the more colorful palette.

And of course, everyone knows how well ghosts can be shown in thermal images.  I saw this guy sitting on a roof right behind me, holding his hands out asking for ghost treats.  He was reflected in the window.  You can almost look into his head through those dark, empty eyes!  Let this be a lesson to all to paint their front porch ceilings haint blue!*

My recommendation:  thermal imaging is a great way to "see" things inside and outside the house!  Heat loss, water leaks, air infiltration, electrical issues, equipment performance, even equine injuries - there are a variety contexts that thermal imaging excels.  My thermal camera, Mighty Mo, is the sharpest arrow in my quiver.  And certainly, for my business, a Best Practice.  And remember, all thermographers are really cute.

* Okay, that's Virginia folklore people!  If you Google "haint"  you get 361,000 hits!

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 17 commentsJay Markanich • January 29 2014 01:50AM

Comments

 Good morning, Jay. I really find that thermal imaging is a very interesting process. It sure lends itself to a lot more ways to discover problems.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Discover and identify where Michael.  Sometimes roof leaks aren't where they manifest on the ceiling.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

 That is so true. They are also good for finding leaks around windows. Not to mention the myriad of other things.  I hope you stay warm today. It is brutal here.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 6 years ago

So said in the post Michael.  It is 11F right now, and supposedly going to 4F tonight.  We had an inch of snow overnight too, and, of course, the news reminds us that it might be slippery.  You think?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Yes, Mighty Mo has many uses and that's great that you can play around with the color palette pending the need. It can make a big difference.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay,

The Thermal imaging process when inspecting is the rage of the age I don't think will fade any time soon. I just need more clients wanting the service.

It was only 11 degrees F here in Carlsbad when I got up this morning. Colder than all get out.

Have a good day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

 

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay,

I just read Lenn's re-blog on this post. I agree with Lenn buyers and agents do feel empowered when they can see through walls! Best explanation I've read on how Thermal Imagin works!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899) over 6 years ago

I do so at times to be instructive Debbie.

Clint - it has been around longer than most people realize.  I don't know if it's a rage yet.  People certainly don't have it come to mind when they have a leak or a cold room.  When people google "cold room" thermal imaging info comes up.  Around here, that's me!

It really sees thermal differences Dorie.  As such, it can determine a specific densities and temperatures, which lends the appearance that it sees inside things.  But it really doesn't.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay,

Thank you for the tips.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 6 years ago

You're welcome as always Raymond.  You too...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Good morning, Jay.

Thermal Imaging is an awesome tool. The inspectors that I favor let me "play" with their camera on one inspection. I have to admit that it was a tad embarrassing when they had to come find me in the house to get it back for their work. Such an amazing tool.

Posted by Bill Saunders, Realtor®, www.BillSellsHotSprings.com (Meyers Realty) over 6 years ago

But no ghosts....

Posted by Bill Saunders, Realtor®, www.BillSellsHotSprings.com (Meyers Realty) over 6 years ago

Jay, thanks for the brief tutorial on the coolest (and hottest) arrow in your quiver! I love what these things can do.

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 6 years ago

Hello Jay,

As cold as it was overnight here in Dallas, I think the imaging would be blue all over as I believe my house froze!  LOL

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 6 years ago

It can be fun Bill, but it's a serious tool.

And the ghosts are fun!

Small, but hopefully useful Tom.  Thanks.

We got down to 9F last night Lisa and they say below 5F tonight perhaps.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, thanks for the education. I do not know how many inspectors around here use them but I intend to find out.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 6 years ago

Well, hopefully there are some Tom.  They are great tools, for sure.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

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