Top 3 Basement Problems Revealed with Thermal Imaging

When it comes to your basement, most homeowners and homebuyers are concerned about moisture, mold and leaks, but that’s not all the issues you’ll find in the typical home basement. Basements are the ideal locations for a number of issues that can affect your home’s condition and value. Over the course of my experience as an infrared home inspector, basements account for some of the most expensive issues that homeowners need to address to keep their home updated, safe, and ideal for sale if that’s your goal.

The top three basement issues that are more easily discovered with a thermal (infrared) imaging inspection are:

1. Hidden Water

It doesn’t take much water to make an expensive basement repair. Plenty of basements are used for storage and just a little bit of water can ruin furniture, boxes of clothes and books, and toys. A basement that is primarily used for storage doesn’t get visited often and so hidden water problems can easily go unnoticed and untreated for a long time. Depending on the finishing treatment in your basement – flooring materials, dry wall, etc. – a basement leak can go undetected for years.

Here are is the thermal imaging evidence of a finished basement with moisture coming in from a breach in a foundation wall. The dark area is active moisture in the carpet.

Photo of basement floor
Photo of carpeted basement floor
Thermal image water leak
Thermal image of water leak











As you can see, the image on the left looks normal. In fact, the homeowners had no idea their carpet was damp until they saw the thermal image on the right. After they saw the image, they put their hands on the carpet and felt the moisture. We were able to trace the source of the leak and implement a plan to fix it and dry out their basement flooring.

Basement moisture leaks can come from foundation problems, water heater leaks, appliances and plenty of other sources and an infrared home inspection is the ideal way to isolate their existence.

2. HVAC Leaks

Furnaces create heat which is then pumped through your home through big pipes called ducts. The individual sections of duct piping must be fully connected and sealed to be completely efficient. Occasionally those pipes are either not well connected or they become disconnected over time and that air you’ve paid to heat is now blown where it shouldn’t be. This results in chilly rooms and it’s completely impossible to discover the reason without an infrared camera.

Traditional home inspectors are armed with flashlights and handheld tools but an infrared inspection reveals substantially more than what can be perceived by the naked eye and conventional home inspection tools. Lots of things can’t be seen well with a flashlight, no matter how high-powered that light is and loss of heated air is one of those things.

3. Air Leaks

Many basements include doors and windows to allow in light and access to the yard but that access comes at a price. Just like with the rest of your home, a door or window must be well sealed if it is to keep the conditioned air in and prevent leaks. A basement with air leaks can be unbearable in the cold Illinois winters and that means your basement space is unlivable. Outside air drawn into your home makes it feel drafty and contributes to higher energy costs.

Even if the basement of your home isn’t supposed to be lived in, finding the air leaks gives you significant information about your home’s condition. Once discovered, air leaks are relatively easy to fix with sealants and caulk and this can be a big improvement in the comfort of your basement and the rest of your home.

Basement sealing can be done with expanding spray foam or caulk and you’ll want to apply these products:

  • Along the gaps between the sill plates and the foundation
  • At the bottom and top of the rim joists
  • Along any venting ducts that pass to the outside

Basement air sealing goes a long way to improve your overall comfort and your house will no longer act as an open-air chimney with outside air pulled in from the basement moving through the house and up into the attic.


For more information about how an infrared home inspection beats a standard inspection, get in touch with Andrew MacDonald at 888-852-8298 and schedule your thermal imaging inspection today.