What I'm Seeing Now

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"My Feet Get Really Cold, Mommy. I'm Not Brushing My Teeth."

This is what these parents heard before I was called, "My feet get really cold, Mommy.  I'm not brushing my teeth."

Well, he's four, so I get the not brushing his teeth, but why the cold feet?  He said it's right in front of his bathroom sink.

We had the terrific cold snap recently and it revealed a lot of things - freezing pipes inside walls, dramatically colder rooms, and here a cold bathroom floor in front of the sink.

Interestingly, this bathroom does not abut the outside, it abuts a wall in the garage attic. 

Hey, I thought those walls were supposed to get insulated!

Blowing up thermal images blurs them a bit, but you can clearly see here what is going on.

For the purposes of the report, orange and yellow colors demonstrate warmer temperatures and lavender, blue and purple demonstrate colder temps.

Try to put the left and center together to get a single image.  The coldest spot is 41F!  The warm wall above is the ambient temperature in the room and 71F.

Along that wall to the left of the corner it appears the insulation is loose, missing or in some other way improperly done.  All along the wall!  And that extends, obviously, behind the bath cabinet.

In the center image the cabinet door is open and there is cold right where the little boy would stand. 

The right image demonstrates how cold it is inside and under the cabinet!  The backside of the cabinet is 48F.  Keep in mind, this is not an outside wall!  This is inside the garage which is 20 or more degrees warmer than outdoors. 

These images are taken at 3pm, and the temperature outdoors was 11F.  So that was the perfect day to see this temperature demonstration inside! 

The little boy was right! 

This, by the way, was a one-year warranty inspection, so it is the perfect time to get thermal imaging done too!  When we did the final inspection on the new house I told them to wait for the one year inspection before doing any thermal imaging as they would then experience the house and know things here and there.*  This was not the only thermal problem we found!  There are more.  And it's a good thing they did it now, BEFORE the warranty expires.  That would be a Best Practice!

My recommendation:  I try to advise people as to the best time to do thermal imaging investigations, and whether to do inside or out.  Doing this does not unnecessarily spend their money, and gets the best results.  I have pushed people off many times to wait for different weather, or rain, or whatever, so we can get the best idea of what is going on.  And pay attention to this sort of thing ESPECIALLY when a one-year warranty is about to expire!  It's the absolute best time to look at the house as thermal images are describable, definitive, and hard to argue with.

*  These folks really wanted me to do a thermal image investigation as a part of their final walk through a year ago.  I more or less refused them, telling them I was not comfortable taking their money when I knew waiting a year would be more profitable.  They saw my blog on the Condo Transition Study, and during that same cold snap wanted me to come right away.  It's actually the 10th month for their house, but they wanted to take advantage of the extreme cold.  Plus, their little boy was complaining!

 

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 59 commentsJay Markanich • February 07 2014 03:42AM

Comments

Wow, that was a nice catch...by the 4-year old!  Thank goodness they called you to do the imaging.  You will save them a lot of money.

Posted by ReadySetLoan Condo Approval Team, The FHA/VA Condo Project Approval Specialists (ReadySetLoan Condo Team LLC) almost 5 years ago

Think about it Eric.  That's probably something the parents would not catch!  How often would they be there barefoot?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

How interesting Jay...it is so amazing what kids will catch and adults miss!

Posted by Ginny Gorman, Homes for Sale in North Kingstown RI and beyond (RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

It's his sink Ginny!  While I don't think he was negotiating, he did find it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

I hope these folks get this problem solved soon.  (I wonder what the excuse for not brushing will be after it's fixed?)

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 5 years ago

Wow, that is interesting. What a neat tool to catch these things.

Posted by Terri Poehler, Coral Springs Real Estate Agent (Realtor) almost 5 years ago

I couldn't get the connection between cold feet and teeth brushing - until I saw your thermal imaging.  The little boy didn't want to stand in front of the sink!  (It's surprising that his parents didn't notice the cold themselves.)

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) almost 5 years ago

Builders hate seeing these images from me Gabe.  It's hard to argue.  And four year olds can get really inventive.

It is the sharpest arrow in my quiver Terri.  I have some 50 such posts on AR.

Exactly Brian.  I don't think he was negotiating!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay - A great catch of the improper insulation and especially the reminder of having thermal imaging done before the 1 year warranty expires.

Posted by AJ Heidmann ~ CRS, YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert (McEnearney Associates, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

That's exactly why I recommend it then, AJ.  Good thing the cold air played along!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

Owners just can't go wrong with a thermal imaging inspection. Especially in the dead of winter. There are a lot of those AH HA moments.

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) almost 5 years ago

Wow, those temperature differentials are dramatic!  I've never heard of doing thermal imaging in a home.  It's not done here in NC, as far as I know.  How much does it cost?

Posted by Dianne Goode, Realtor/Broker (Raleigh Cary Realty) almost 5 years ago

Clint - little tootsies seem to be very effective too, but not so definitively explained.

That's all on my website Dianne, under Pricing.  I have posted over 50 thermal imaging blogs on AR.  This spring I will complete my 10th year doing it. 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

HI Jay,

These thermal images are just perfect to trace and track anything the eye can't see, thye must be such a perfect addition to your toolkit and services that you provide.

 

Posted by Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986., Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490 (eXp Realty, Victoria BC www.pfanntastic.com) almost 5 years ago

I named my camera Mighty Mo, Peter, but you'd have to be an old Washington guy to understand that.

And I call it the sharpest arrow in my quiver.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay, the builder won't be able to argue with the facts. With all the cold weather we're having, now is the perfect time to have a thermal image investigation done.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 5 years ago

Kids say the darndest things. His feet and his teeth are happier now. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 5 years ago

Jay, that is difficult to refute, Hope the builder honors the warranty they were given

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) almost 5 years ago

Jay,

Looks like this could be a costly mistake for the builder.

Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) almost 5 years ago

Thermal inaging is a rare practice in Oklahoma City and I appreciate what you do with this. The only time it is used is when a leak is estimated to be in a wall or floor and then those companies charge $300 just to come out.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) almost 5 years ago

Sounds like the room over my garage.  This winter you didn't want to come into the room, which has hardwood floors, without your woolly socks on.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 5 years ago

Doesn't look like there is any insulation under the floor, which would be fine when over heated space. Since it abuts a cold attic it just slides right under and BANG cold feet.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) almost 5 years ago

Yay, now the problem can be fixed so the little boy's feet are warmer.  :-)

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) almost 5 years ago

i thanked to you for a good post love your post !!!!!!

Posted by sady mia almost 5 years ago

You may have prevented a much larger future dental condition. Great explanation and great photos to demonstrate the cold spots. 

 

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) almost 5 years ago

What is the cost of this service? And how much does the equipment cost? I asking because one COULD try using a infrared thermometer costing $20-150 to get the temp differences. You don't get the visual but at least you could find out the differences and figure out the cause/location the old fashioned way like with your hand.

Posted by HomeSalesForce.com Team Powered by eXp Realty, Canton, Alpharetta, Roswell, Woodstock, Atlanta (eXp Realty) almost 5 years ago

Time to buy that kid some slippers :)  Why do some builders turn air sealing into rocket science?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Jay, this is a very good post! Also, great for buyers to know to do this type of inspection before their warrantee is up! I cannot believe how much of a temperature difference there is in this room! Sometimes it pays to listen to the little ones!

Posted by Nina Rogoff, Sells Real Estate! (RE/MAX Executive Realty) almost 5 years ago

Clients will always come back to the honest home inspector Jay. They'll always remember you for that.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) almost 5 years ago

Jay:

May I offer some suggestions?

Posted by Kevin Richardson, CPI, Seeing Beyond the Visual™ (Capital Infrared) almost 5 years ago

Jay-Great tip. Rather than waiting until the end of the warranty period, could an equal result be obtained during either the coldest or warmest months of the year?

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) almost 5 years ago
I enjoyed this post Jay... (Besides trusting my 4-year old...which does not always happen in my case) I wish I had taken advantage if my home inspection check-up.
Posted by Sheree Holsey, I am Happy to Help You Find your Way Home! (Sold Buy the Sea Realty) almost 5 years ago

Great post, Jay!

Posted by Laura Foreman, Copywriter, Buffini & Company (Referral Maker Real Estate CRM) almost 5 years ago

Jay, keep us posted. I'd be curious to hear the builder's reaction to this.

Posted by Tammie White, Broker, Franklin TN Homes for Sale (Franklin Homes Realty LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay, I'm finding these one year warranty inspections to be very useful.

Posted by Connie Harvey, Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate (Pilkerton Realtors) almost 5 years ago

My question also would be how the builder will react to the extremes that winter has created this year.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) almost 5 years ago

Jay your thermal imaging photos really showed that there are some insulation issues in that home.  If your thermal imager ever broke mabye you could hire that little boy to walk around barefoot at your inspections.

Posted by Jim Patton, Realtor - Stanislaus & Merced county Realtor. (Century 21 M&M - 209-404-0816) almost 5 years ago

It is Mike.  I bet this would not be so clear in the hot summer.

Scott - well, this one did!  He should be happier once they fix it!

Ed - the insulation is part of the warranty, to be sure.

B&M - they can fix it pretty easily, once they determine the cavities that are without insulation.  It can be blown in very effectively.

Joe - the good thing about this technology is that it's totally non invasive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Cindy - our daughter's room is over the garage and despite blowing in insulation under the floor it's still really cold.

That's exactly what it's doing Than.  Cold migrates, and heat seeks cold.

Thanks Anonymous.  Stop by any time.

Everyone is hoping that Kat, especially the little boy!

That's one way to look at it Margaret!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

J&J - my infrared thermometer is much more costly than that!  And with a thermometer and a hand it's hard to create a report that a builder can review!  My thermal camera cost me nearly $15K, about 10 years ago.  My pricing is on my website.

Because it's really cold in space Charlie?  Spot filled, spot insulated.  It is a difficult concept.

Nina - I tell almost everyone to wait for the one year to do a thermal investigation.  That way they have lived in the house and can point out known problem areas.

Suzanne - for sure I will always be that.  People who know me know that too.

You kidding Kevin?  Any time!

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Wayne - some one year inspections have to happen in the 11th month!  In this case they wanted to take advantage of the cold.

Sheree - in many ways they can be trusted and in many ways not.  I am told I would puppy-dog eye my babysitters at 3 and 4 saying that I was always given a piece of cake before bed.  Live and learn about the inspections.  Lesson learned apparently.  Your avatar is a very nice photo.

Thanks Laura.  My clients thought it was a good report too.

Tammie - they seem to always react the same - complain, agree and then roll over.

Connie - I suggest them to my clients.  It's the end of the warranty period!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay,  I don't know of any inspector in my area who does thermal imaging because we rarely get temps below 32F.  However, I think your suggestion of an inspection before the end of the one year warranty period on new construction is important.  Thanks!

Posted by Marge Draper, REALTOR, Keller Williams Realty, Menlo Park CA (Keller Williams Realty Palo Alto) almost 5 years ago

Bill - for all we know he was called many times with various problems!

Jim - he'd probably work for very little - some PB&J and ice cream I bet.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Marge - it can still detect things, and summer months are certainly the best.  Temperature extremes make things clearer and more easily diagnosed.  Still, it is some science and some art.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Good morning, Jay. It is amazing the thermal imaging find. I'm slowly starting to wean folks in this area on the use of it.

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 5 years ago

There has not been a paradigm shift in mentality regarding thermal camera use here yet Michael.  Despite my pushing it.  One day!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Thermal imaging is huge...and amazingly in this sometimes frozen tundra part of the country...it is just beginning to be used.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 5 years ago

The first thing I do when I get a call for IR is to explain the limitations of the device. Many people believe we can see through walls with our fancy cameras. Like you I sometimes defer the service or not take the job because I can not help them using my camera. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 5 years ago

That would be a very revealing area S&D.  Reuben Salzman up there in MN has some amazing images in the very cold.

Jim - that's the only way to go, in my, and your, opinion.  I've seen ads in magazines to sell thermal cameras with a Superman flying by and saying you can "see into walls like Superman!"  Wow...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Another good example of the proper use of technology. It could save a homeowner thousands of dollars.

Thanks for sharing.

Posted by John Wiley, Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA (Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty) almost 5 years ago

Jay - I need to get an energy audit done on my house. I know we have cold/hot areas that should be addressed.

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Proper use is key and doing the thermal imaging only when there is the temperature gradient to give good results.

Good example Jay.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 5 years ago

Thanks John.  Been doing thermal imaging for 10 years!

Jason - I do not do them without the camera at my side (or in front of my face).  It's good at finding ghosts too...

Like that fellow to the left, whom I saw on a roof, sitting right behind me, begging for ghost treats.  You can almost look into his cold, dark head via those empty, frightening eyes.  Don't you want to shiiiiverrrrrr?  There is a post on my website you would probably enjoy - at the bottom of the left navigation entitled "Why to paint your porch ceilings light blue."

Robert - that was certainly helpful in this case.  The wall isn't even an exterior wall, so the colder weather outside made things dramatic.  The camera sees in 10ths of a degree F however, which is very sensitive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Yes, A lot depends upon the quality of the camera and the skill and knowledge of the person using it.

I thought the photo in the comment above was a self-poitrait, sitting on the throne. :)

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) almost 5 years ago

Of course Robert!  That's why training is so long and expensive, and one has to play with the camera forever to get used to it!  As to the "ghost," that is me sitting on a roof, and my reflection viewed in a window.  That's why it was so interesting, the image is actually showing cool colors.  Hence, and why not, ghost!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay,

You mentioned that this bathroom abuts the unconditioned attic above the garage. Did you have access to the attic above the garage - and more specifically - could you visually see the back side of this partition wall?

I ask because the Thermograms you have sown do not (directly) display thermal patterns associated with missing or mis-applied insulation. Rather, the thermal patterns look like "thermal bridging or bypassing," which is basically air infiltration and convective heat loss.

Partition walls that separate an unconditioned space (attic) and the conditioned space (interior heated/cooled) bathroom, need to be continuous and contiguous. That means the wall, in order to be an effective thermal boundary and air barrier, should be blocked and sealed on "ALL" six sides. Builders hardly ever do this unless building to Energy Certified standards.

Therefore, what I suspect your seeing and what this family is experiencing is thermal bypassing. The back side of the wall may not have a backer board or radiant barrier, and more importantly, the bottom and top plates of the partition wall are not sealed - allowing the thermal bypasses to occur - which is why the occupants are experiencing discomfort in the bathroom.

There are at least two problems with most kneewalls or partition walls:

1. Kneewalls often lack an attic-side air barrier, even though they are insulated with air-permeable insulation (usually fiberglass batts) that require such a barrier.

2. When builders install kneewalls, they often forget to install solid blocking between the floor joists under the kneewall bottom plate, as well as solid blocking between the rafters above the kneewall top plate. If the kneewall is insulated, such blocking is essential; moreover, each piece of blocking needs to be carefully air sealed. Without the blocking, cold air can migrate horizontally between the floor joists, robbing heat from the house.

Hope this helps. I'm a BIG fan of your blogs......keep them coming!

Posted by Kevin Richardson, CPI, Seeing Beyond the Visual™ (Capital Infrared) almost 5 years ago

Thanks Kevin!  I have been so busy the last few days I had reserved today (lazy snow day, if you consider shoveling a driveway and sidewalk lazy, that is) to email you as you had said you had suggestions.  I don't remember which blog you had made that offer on, but I was waiting!

I agree with 1 and 2.  This is a 10' bedroom wall, and is visible from the garage attic.  From the garage side, it is covered with OSB, and the garage ceiling, as usually is, is not insulated.  From the garage side the OSB showed no heat signature from inside the house.  So that was hard to evaluate.  Obviously there is thermal bypass, but it is associated with that bedroom corner and the whole bathroom wall from behind the cabinet to the tub, which I could not see behind.

And I just looked and don't have your email.  Would love to have it.

I did buy another camera, which FEDEX claims is going to be delivered today.  I am kind of doubting it, but we'll see!

I hope all is well with Los Richardson.

Thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

kevin@dcpropertyinspector.com

email me anytime :)  What camera did you get?

Kevin

Posted by Kevin Richardson, CPI, Seeing Beyond the Visual™ (Capital Infrared) almost 5 years ago

Emailed you privately!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) almost 5 years ago

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