Are We Weird for Wanting an Infrared Home Inspection?

Infrared Home Inspection (photo via flickr)If we’re weird for wanting homeowners and homebuyers to have a greater level of trust that their home is safe, comfortable, and well constructed, well then OK we’re weird. We’ve been in the business of home inspection for a long time, and we’ve seen the business grow in reputation but it irks us when we see inexperienced home inspectors claim that infrared is a miraculous tool that can see through walls. Yep, some of them actually say that. They’ve got the tool part right but the rest of it is just hype.

Standard Inspections Don’t Show Energy Gaps

As we have grown more aware of the limits of our energy supply and the growing costs to heat and cool the spaces we live in, it has become clear that finding and plugging energy leaks in our homes is critical. Not just nice to do, critical. Even the most experienced home inspector can’t match the data an infrared home inspector can gather on your home’s use of energy.

When homeowners finally admit that some rooms are hard to heat in the winter, they may suspect a number of issues, but a thorough examination with an infrared camera can often (not guaranteed, but often) eliminate the guesswork and isolate the problem. One homeowner I worked with suspected that the chimney flue in their living room was the cause of the chill, but when I used the infrared camera to examine the ceiling and walls, we discovered instead that the builder failed to fully insulate the attic around the chimney and down half of the ceiling! This type of problem was completely hidden to the homeowner (and to any home inspector without an infrared camera in their toolkit) who had been paying far higher heating bills than they liked year over year.

The Truth About Your Home Isn’t Hype

The truth is that an infrared camera can’t help me see through walls like the Superman character of the comic books. What it does pick up is temperature differences that can indicate potential problems. Those problems, like leaks, missing insulation, overloaded circuits, could continue for years without making themselves known but when they do, it can be disastrous. Even if it takes years for a leaking toilet to cause visible damage to your home, wouldn’t you rather know ahead of time so you can fix it before it gets really expensive?

Knowing the true condition of a home – either the one you are living in now or the one you want to buy – is valuable. With an infrared home inspection, you know the condition of your home in photos. If you’re buying a home with a leak and you know about it ahead of time, that’s a bargaining chip for getting repairs done or reducing the cost of the home. If you find out about missing insulation or electrical problems in your existing home now, you can spend the money getting things fixed and working properly before you pay another high heating bill or lose power.

Infrared Home Inspection isn’t an Add On or Upgrade

An experienced home inspector who sees and understands the value infrared adds to their home inspection service won’t sell you the infrared as an add on or upgrade because it isn’t. You either do infrared or you don’t and I don’t do any other type of home inspection because I’ve seen first-hand the value it provides to the services I deliver for my clients.

There are plenty of shysters out there waiting to take your money, hand you a printed home inspection report, and walk away. Lots of honest veteran home inspectors can give you an educated assessment of a home using their all-too-available human senses combined with their brain and years of training. Still, I’ll take an experienced home inspector armed with an infrared camera and the skills to use it any day.

Andrew MacDonald is a veteran home inspector and believes in the value infrared brings to his home inspection expertise. He’s helped thousands of homeowners and homebuyers feel confident in their Algonquin, Palatine, and Hoffman Estates homes. Give him a call today at 888-852-8298 to schedule your infrared inspection today.