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Thermal Imaging Averts A Potentially Dangerous Dryer Fire

Thermal imaging averts a potential dangerous dryer fire.

Mighty Mo does it again!  He loves his job.

I do a lot of One-Year Warranty Inspections.

They are the last time a buyer has a chance to have the builder address anything wrong with the house.

During those inspections the report needs to be very specific.  And they are extremely helpful inspections.

One very important thing I do is sweep the house with a thermal camera.

That is the only way we can see the quality of the insulation behind the drywall, and any other of a myriad of things a thermal camera can detect.

This family had dried a load of clothing about an hour prior to my inspection.  Yet the wall and ceiling above the dryer was still very warm.  I wondered why.  From the outside I had already looked at the dryer vent opening to see if it was clogged.  It was very clean.

So I had them run the dryer for about 10 minutes before looking at the wall again.

The same location looked much warmer!

There is a reason for that.  It tells me heat is not escaping.  Somewhere there is a clog, and it isn't on the outside of the house at the discharge hood.

Mighty Mo was vibrating with excitement.

It was attic time.

From the attic space I could see that the flexible discharge tubing, a virtual slinky with insulation and plastic, was crimped tightly as it turned immediately to the right to blow its air outdoors.

Thermal imaging showed that there was a heat build up right at that crimp.  Given that there is insulation at the crimp, so where the line is crimped the insulation is crushed also and provides less protection.  Hence heat, almost 125F, is built up right at that location.  That temperature build up is after only 10 minutes!

THERE IS A CLOG!

These folks and a small child have been in the house only 11 months.  In one year the three of them washed enough clothing, and created enough lint, to build up in that crimp, where the tubing is crushed to a very small dimension.

During installation, when the tubing was directed toward the outdoors it was bent too tightly.  THAT MUST BE CORRECTED!  These images notify the buyer of the dangerous condition and will put the builder on notice.

There are thousands of dryer fires in this country every year.  They are due to clogs - lint, bird nests, etc. - which build up heat.  That heat backs up overheating the dryer and it gets too hot.

Many years ago I wrote a blog calling the dryer the most dangerous appliance in your home.  Click on that link!

My recommendation:  not only are one-year warranty inspections very important, but a thermal camera can go a long way toward finding issues in a house that would be otherwise unnoticed!  Thermal imaging is very important during inspections.  Mighty Mo has found literally hundreds of problems otherwise unknown to buyers, and sellers.  And as far as home inspections and thermal imaging goes, insist on Jay Markanich!

 

 

 

 

 

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 38 commentsJay Markanich • October 20 2018 11:53AM

Comments

I had no idea that thermal image inspection can helpavert dryer fires . Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) 29 days ago

Gita - my many thermal imaging posts have shown that thermal cameras can detect a myriad of things!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 29 days ago

Love the whole concept of thermal imaging... it's a shame a lot of inspectors still don't offer the service as yet.

Posted by Nina Hollander, Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage | Charlotte, NC) 29 days ago

Nina - a good tool is very expensive, between $20K - $30K.  And the training is essential and expensive.  I have been doing it for 14 years now, and my thermal camera is the sharpest arrow in my quiver.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 29 days ago

That's a very frightening situation.... I've seen multifamily homes with dryers int he basement burn to the ground... one dryer was so clogged it caught on fire and the tenant was not home....no one was in the building, thank God.... balloon framing didn't help either!!

Posted by Barbara Todaro, "Franklin MA Homes" (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) 29 days ago

Good morning Jay. I wish Mighty Moe could be used in homes of any age afforably. Terrific post.

Posted by Sheila Anderson, The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133 (Referral Group Incorporated) 29 days ago

Good morning Jay. Love when "Mighty Mo" shows his value in multiples! Keep those stories coming. Enjoy everyone of them!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) 29 days ago

Barbara - older multi-apartment dwellings don't have the same construction as newer.  Balloon walls can transfer heat quickly.  And the balloons pop...

Sheila - I use it on pre-Rev War homes!  And thanks.

I'm glad, Wayne.  I wish more people read them!  I think posts like this are instructive.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 29 days ago

Great inspection detection Jay Markanich  and one more reason people need to give that area a definite heads up and clean out !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) 28 days ago

Jay - thank goodness for inspectors like you and Mighty Mo aka thermal imaging. Just thinking of what could have happened scares me. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 28 days ago

Thank you very much, Jay, for sharing this experience.

I will schedule a January reblog.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) 28 days ago

That was an important discovery you made, Jay.  Two houses across the street from me caught fire in July.  They are currently being rebuilt.  It turned out one of the homeowners was storing propane tanks along the fence line.  During a 104 degree hot day with winds, one of them exploded.  

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) 28 days ago

And uncrimp the tubing, S&D!  That's where the heat build up is highest.

Kathy - the homeowners were nonplussed and surprised.  They never imagined they were in danger.

Roy - thanks.  The more eyes that see it the better.

Myrl - wow, I've never heard of that happening!  Propane in tanks is typically very cold.  It must have expanded rapidly.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 28 days ago

              

                            thank you, Jay. 

Posted by Kathy Streib, Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224 (Room Service Home Staging) 28 days ago

Thank you, Kathy, again!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 28 days ago

Oh my gosh, you make me want to have our own dryer inspected to make sure everything is fine. Scary stuff. Wish you were available in our market...I see too many of green inspectors using thermal imaging and wonder if they know how to use it properly. 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) 27 days ago

This is terrifying. I will be discussing this with my husband since we have only lived in our home since April. The previous owners left plenty of clues that they were clueless.

Posted by Sharon Tara, New Hampshire Home Stager (Sharon Tara Transformations) 27 days ago

Wow! I was renting a condo for a while and they did the thermal imaging and found the dryer connection so clogged that the fire danger was iminent! 

Posted by faye schubert, technology and marketing specialist 27 days ago

Debb - I've been doing thermal imaging for 14 years.  Training is expensive and ABSOLUTELY essential.

New persona, Sharon?  If they were clueless it is likely they were not diligent about dryer cleaning!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 27 days ago

Faye - when I inspect condos I ask who is responsible for cleaning the dryer vents.  Usually nobody knows!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 27 days ago

Good morning Jay - Our Florida house just passed one year.  I had an inspector during contruction but never thought of a check in the first year.

Posted by Grant Schneider, Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes (Performance Development Strategies) 27 days ago

Sales contracts here include it, Grant.  Sometimes the builders are sneaky and do it at the 11th month.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 27 days ago

Jay, thanks for this information. Do you use the camera on anything other than the dryer? I have never understood why dryer pipe was not made of something like big truck exhaust pipe. a lot of it is flexible, but virtually uncrimpable. It is extremely heat resistant.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) 27 days ago

Tom - yes, on dozens of things!  With many posts to prove it!  The recommmended dryer vent tubing is 6" and metal, with very small ribs when flexible is needed, and solid when straight can be used.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 27 days ago

Mighty Mo to the rescue again! Great catch! This is a scary situation; I'm sure that family is so happy they were notified about this before it became a tragedy.

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) 27 days ago

Yes, Kat.  They were!  Installations like this are non think.  Smart should rule, but unfortunately we know a lot about that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 27 days ago

Had a similar situation years ago.  We were visiting friends for dinner.  As we walked to the patio I could hear the dryer running.  As we sat on the patio and chatted I looked over and noticed the flap on the dryer vent closed.  The owner and I went in and confirmed the dryer was running but not venting to the outside.  We got a step ladder and confirmed that the vent pipe was separated and the basement ceiling was full of dryer lint! 

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) 26 days ago

As I have said before, no inspector I know of in Oklahoma City does a thremal inspection. They are not required to but I wonder if they worry about liability.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) 26 days ago

Serendipity can be a wonderful thing, Stephen!  Good thing you looked!

Joe - of course it would not be required, no tool is on a home inspection.  And I have heard that liability argument since moisture meters came out and I think it's silliness!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 26 days ago

Hi Jay

Thanks for sharing this valuable information. It's a good reminder for homeowners to have their dryer vents checked and cleaned. There are plenty of inspectors in our area that do NOT use thermal imaging but the value is clearly there.

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) 26 days ago

Thermal imaging can detect a lot of things in a lot of places, Jeff.  It defines value!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 26 days ago

Thank you for this timely post!  I always recommend an inspection at the 11 month mark and now i have a story to go with it.  Amazing, an 11 month old home and ready for a fire!

Posted by Jan Green, HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN (Value Added Service, 602-620-2699) 26 days ago

Installation matters, Jan.  But really a dryer should be checked often and perhaps cleaned annually.  With more people living in a house maybe even every six months.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 26 days ago

Thanks for sharing your insights. Makes me want to go out and buy a thermal camera.

Posted by Anthony Kirlew, Helping You Make Fiscally Sound Choices (Keller Williams Realty East Valley) 25 days ago

Jay, I plan to research your old posts on this topic, but can you briefly cover the big things you use the camera for. I have never seen an inspector use one here in SE North Carolina! FYI heavy truck flex exhaust pie though usually only 5” should work for a dryer. It is a lot of work to bend it, and it takes a big hammer to put a dent in it! It is designed to withstand temperatures of more than 1250 degrees. 

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) 25 days ago

Looks easy, right Anthony?  I've been doing it for 14 years now, and bottom line, training, training, training, which is very expensive.  A good camera will cost you more than a car!

Tom - I've probably had 60 or 70 thermal imaging posts on AR, and have detected a myriad of different things.  Here is a post from last winter on a new condo with poorly-installed doors.  Electrical issues, and window and insulation inefficiencies are big finds too.  This is a post from last winter:

https://activerain.com/blogsview/5166796/how-can-you-see-extreme-exterior-door-inefficiency-

You can see all the different things these cameras do on my website here

http://www.jaymarinspect.com/home-inspector-virginia-thermal-infrared-imaging-Ashburn-Virginia.html

As to the hefty dryer vent, that is great but still needs cleaning!  I read that most house fires happen because the dryer itself overheats.  About 5% of accidental deaths in homes is due to dryer fires.

 

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 25 days ago

Mighty Mo does catch a lot of things.  I love that thing.  Glad these buyers had you doing their inspection.

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) 18 days ago

Chris Ann -

The original Mighty Mo is to the right.

The featured burger at Hot Shoppes, the Marriott family's first foray into business in the Washington area.

And a great childhood memory!  That was looong before a Big Mac.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) 18 days ago

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