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A Thermal Camera Can "See" HVAC Air Flow - You And I Can't!

A thermal camera can "see" HVAC air flow - you and I can't!

This was an inspection of a new property, prior to the buyer's final walk through.

Months ago I did the pre-drywall inspection.

A final walk through inspection typically follows that, and comes near to the settlement but with enough time to get any inspected things done prior to settlement.

One important thing is to determine if the HVAC system is blowing sufficient air through each register.

That can be done by hand, feeling the air flow.  If it feels weak I have an anemometer to measure the air flow.  But, if it feels good I move on to the next register.

The day was raining and about 55F.  So the heat was tested.  How was it working?

This register is in the kitchen eating space, beside the end of a long counter top and cabinets.

How hard is the air blowing?  Very well!  You can see the air pattern extend all the way to the ceiling!

That little red dot in the upper left is the security system motion sensor, which always carries a small electric charge and therefore is slightly warm.

When I am doing a Mighty Mo sweep of the house I can investigate the HVAC registers in this way, in addition to the feel test!

My recommendation:  even though a house is brand new, never discount the idea that it should be inspected.  This house had a number of things questioned or pointed out on the inspection report.  So when my client walks through with the supervisor he will have a list from my report to discuss or add to the supervisor's final walk through list of things to be done.  And when a thermal camera finds insulation issues, as it did here, it never hurts!  Thermal images of poorly-insulated spots are definitive!

 

 

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 • May 12 2016 03:38AM

Comments

Wow! This is intersting. Looks like something out of Ghostbusters! Haha!

Posted by Terri Poehler, Coral Springs Real Estate Agent (Realtor) over 2 years ago

I think you shoul have a thermal gallery Jay Markanich with a little more blur to the focus...or lack thereof...it's a work of art !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 2 years ago

Terri - that is a thermal image of a ghost sitting on a roof top.  His hands are displayed outward asking for ghost treats.  You can almost see into his head through those cold, hallow eyes.   Ooooooooh...

At least that's what I said in a tongue-in-cheek blog post. 

And people believed it!

One guy wrote a magazine article about it saying that I was incorrect! 

I had a lot of fun with that one!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

S&D - depending on the palette chosen, some of them can get really colorful.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

this is really great information for a buyer and any agent selling a home - thanks! 

Posted by Lise Howe, Assoc. Broker and Attorney Licensed in DC, MD, VA, (Keller Williams Capital Properties) over 2 years ago

Lise - a thermal camera can be used for many things.  And all useful.

Well, excpet maybe for creating artistic avatars for my AR profile.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Good morning Jay. Seems like more inspectors should be using a thermal camera as normal routine. Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker (Wayne M Martin) over 2 years ago

Wayne - for years I have said that all home inspections would come with them.  But I have been wrong.  Thermal imaging is expensive, to say the least.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Really impressive image.  Really gives a good visual to what is happening with the HVAC system. 

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 2 years ago

Thanks Stephen. 

I actually had a ghost peek around the corner today and tell me that I was doing a good job.

Mighty Mo snapped an image.

Mo loves that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Jay- I'd love to have a Mighty Mo.  Just not sure I'd know what to do with it, except to turn it over to a pro like yourself. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 2 years ago

Kathy - if you were still in River Creek, I'd let you touch him.

Really.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

 

                   Thank you Jay Markanich for my ah-ha moment. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 2 years ago

Kathy - where did I get the name "Mighty Mo?"

As a kid, the Marriott family was local, I knew them at church, and their first foray into business was a drive-up restaurant called The Hot Shoppes.  You ordered from a menu near your parking stall via a microphone connection, and a young lady on roller skates brought the meal.

Their signature meal was a Mighty Mo hamburger.  This was before the Big Mac and Whopper.  It came with a gallon of fries and a root beer.  I always got the chocolate shake.

The A & W on the root beer stood for Alice and Willard, the Marriott family parents and company founders.

It was a great family dinner!  And memories.

Thanks for the feature!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Here is the image in a different palette.

There are many palettes to choose from.

I can sometimes describe a condition better with a different way of displaying it with colors.

It can be fun!

This palette is called "Lava."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Jay- your explanation could be a whole post! (Really) so A&W. Root beer is from the Marriotts? Your meal you described is a favorite of mine and I treat myself to it once a year!

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) over 2 years ago

The Hot Shoppes are long gone, Kathy.  The last one was at Wheaton Plaza in Wheaton, but closed years  ago.  They still served the Mighty Mo!

The A&W thing is the urban legend. 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Thank you for the reminder to get a home inspection. Have a good day.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 2 years ago

Great post!  I can see Kathy chose to feature it this week!

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 2 years ago

Fascinating to see how the air flows like that.  I wouldn't think it would go all the way up to the ceiling. 

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) over 2 years ago

Glad you enjoyed it, Gita.

Thanks Kristin.  Subscribe and read for yourself!

Rob - many studies say a good air flow per ton is 400cfm.  That is an air speed of 4.5 mph.  It should blow to the ceiling!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

The pressure drop from intake vent and out is an indication how much air is coming out.  Using latex bubble one can observe the flow. On exisiting homes many have so much heat leakage or broken ducts most heat is completely wasted.....

Posted by Sam Shueh, mba, cdpe, reopro, pe ( (408) 425-1601) over 2 years ago

Hi Jay -  I love those thermal images.  I had one done for heat loss.  Fortunately, everything ok.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) over 2 years ago

Sam - the air flow would necessarily be different at the returns and registers due to many things, but I measure air flow with an anemometer.  Different duct sizes have different air flow characteristics.

I had a post a while ago on air leakage from ducts.  Enjoy!

http://activerain.com/blogsview/4535353/hvac-ducts-should-not-have-holes-inside-the-walls

Well, Grant, you did good!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Jay Markanich - Question - how did you get the profile picture as thermal image...?

And yes, new construction does not mean no inspection. In fact now it should be with thermal camera..

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) over 2 years ago

I just wanted everyone to realize that I'm a hot guy, Praful.  And still on this side of the dirt.

On new construction I can determine if the insulation was done properly.  I often find large areas where it was not and builders do not like that.  One builder said home inspectors should "not be allowed to have thermal cameras."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

Very cool, Jay - that's certainly one way to see just how much warmth is coming out!

Posted by John Meussner, #MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852 (Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA,) over 2 years ago

It's a very fun way, John.  One can always just stick a hand in there to feel how the air is blowing!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 2 years ago

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