What I'm Seeing Now


My Client Asked If There Was No Insulation In the Wall

My client asked if there was no insulation in the wall.

Often during a home inspection my client follows me around when I do a thermal image sweep to check for insulation issues or roof leaks.  They like looking over my shoulder and listen to my explanation of what they are seeing.

Sometimes I show them ghost footprints on the wall, but that's another story.

In this house we entered a bedroom and there was a long cool spot on the wall.

My client immediately asked if there was no insulation in the wall, and that was why there was the cool line from top to bottom.

I said that could not be the case because it was an interior wall and it was 85F outdoors.

And then I pointed out the cool line was beside the receptacle on the wall, which you can see at the bottom toward the right in the image.

Knowing what was going on, I said, "See the cool area that looks squarish?  There's a reason for that.  Come with me."

So he followed me into the next bedroom.

"Look at the wall," I asked, and now look at the thermal camera.

It showed the same patterned line down the wall, which ended right at the HVAC register.  Since the AC was running you can clearly see the cool register in the image.  It was this same pattern that was evident in the other image above.  You were just seeing it from the other side.

My recommendation:  thermal cameras see temperatures in the form of tens of thousands of individual pixels of information which it then converts into an image.  With software I can choose a color palette which best describes what is being looked at.  In this case you are looking at a cool duct and HVAC wall register in two bedroom walls, and seeing the same thing from both sides.  Knowing what  you are seeing and correctly interpreting the camera information is the crux of thermal imaging during home inspections.  And that takes training, and practice, practice, practice.  And the ghost who stood on the wall above sure has great arches!



Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 10 commentsJay Markanich • June 24 2017 11:04AM


Your Mighty Mo is an indispensible tool that has paid for itself so many times over. Great post!

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (HomeSmart Realty West & Lend Smart Mortgage, Llc.) over 3 years ago

Great explanation.  I have seen a cople of inspectors who love their camera's but have no idea of how to interpret the info

Posted by William Feela, Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No. (WHISPERING PINES REALTY) over 3 years ago

Good morning, Jay Markanich home inspectors in my area need to take a page from your book...it's a follow the leader game...just as real estate sales is...

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Previously Affiliated with The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty - Retired ) over 3 years ago

There are many things to look at and understand better with the thermal camera S&N.  And I have had a lot of fun posts about ghosts.  One ghost shows up so much I have taken to call him Mosby.

Training is essential William, and the good training is expensive.  There are a couple of cheap training sites out there, and not worth the money.  Interpretation is vital.   It's a little bit science and a little bit art.  I had a post on that years ago.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

Barbara - I have been doing this a long time and remember when moisture meters caused a scene with some home inspectors thinking they should not be used for liability reasons!  I got into it 14 years ago because my son was on his first tour to Iraq and told me about the "really cool stuff" they were using and how he thought I could benefit from it on home inspections.  I was WAY ahead of the loop.  (As usual...     )

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

You nailed it when you talked about being able to interpret properly what the thermal image is showing.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 3 years ago

Interpretation and confirmation is everything!

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 3 years ago

Well, Joe, if a doctor can't read an X-ray, what good is it!?

With proper interpretation the builders (or sellers) cannot dispute an image, Fred.  And I have had builders tell me that a wall that was 130F on one side of the corner, and 71F on the other side, was not what it seemed!  Um, that's pretty definitive!


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

I just love your thermal photography and our inspector now uses it too...I really think a franchised museum....on line post cards....tie dye t shirts....there are sooo many options for the "designs" !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 3 years ago

Thermal things to see and thermal things to learn, S&D.  Builders hate it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 3 years ago

This blog does not allow anonymous comments