What is thermal imaging used for?

Thermal imaging is a method of improving visibility of objects in an environment by detecting an objects’ infrared radiation and creating an image based on that information.

What is a thermal imaging random survey inspection?

Infrared (thermal imaging) is an advanced, non-invasive technology that allows an accredited inspector to show homeowners | buyer(s) things about their homes that can’t | may not be revealed using conventional inspection methods. Ancillary inspection reports are just as important as the reports generated from a standard home inspector.

How long does a thermal image exterior cladding survey take?

Usually a slab home of about 2,000 heated square feet exterior and interior random survey takes, two hours (on site).

How long does it take to generate a report?

Usually an afternoon random thermal image survey report is emailed the following day of the inspection period. The report represents only the recorded seen component temperature (F) at the time of the random survey.

How long is a normal accredited random thermal image survey report?

Usually a report for a 2,000 heated square foot slab home can reach 90 pages +/-.

Is a thermal imaging survey a silver bullet, detecting unusual moisture wetting condition?

Properly conducted thermal imaging surveys, can effectively discover thermal anomalies (unusual condition). Not a silver bullet!

What do Infrared Cameras see?

Infrared cameras only see (capture) the emitted or radiant energy from the 1st one thousandth of an inch (.001) if the surface of most solids and liquids.

Why should I have a thermal image survey of my exterior cladding?

Random survey imaging can provide an energy signature (Thermal gradient) providing qualitative information. Thermal image surveys should be used as a non-invasive support tool, not a silver bullet.

Does an inspector have to be licensed in the state of SC conducting a stucco inspection?


Should the interior, exterior walls become included within the exterior cladding survey?

This is a recommended procedure.

Is an exterior cladding thermal image survey an energy audit?

No – a cladding survey is not an energy audit.

Should the home owner | area representative attend an inspection period?

Yes, recommended. Not necessary.

Why is a thermal imaging camera detector resolution important?

When selecting an inspection using thermal imaging; ask about critical camera technology when evaluating thermal camera use as an investigation tool.

A report will be generated from a camera technology, directly relative to the respective cameras features / precision.

Many infrared cameras have fewer pixels than visible-light cameras, so pay close attention to an inspection cameras detector resolution.

higher resolution infrared cameras can measure smaller targets from farther away and create sharper thermal images, both of which add up to more precise and reliable site measurement / comparisons – relative to each targeted site. (inspection site by site)

Also, be aware of the difference between detector and display resolution. Some manufacturers will boast about a high resolution LCD and hide their low resolution detector when it’s the detector resolution that matters most.

For instance, LCD resolution may spec at 640 × 480, but if the IR detector pixel resolution is only 160 × 120, or 19,200 pixels, then the greater display resolution accomplishes absolutely nothing. The quality of the thermal image and its resulting measurement data are always determined by the detector resolution.

Higher resolution thermal imaging not only provides more accurate quantitative results, it can be very effective in showing findings in finer detail to customers, supervisors, repair crews, moisture investigators and insurance companies which can help move along the decision-making process.

An instrument current calibration / appropriate current chain of custody traceable to the appropriate bureau of standards are additionally compelling to an image report.

Superior IR image quality is also valuable when generating clearer detail site reports.

Some other factors affecting camera technology are use capturing reliable report data are:

Hand held / fix tri-pod methods, interfering reflection examples: from the sun and cloud cover, weather conditions, immediate previous weather events, time of day, typical measurement errors – camera position / angle to target, heat or cooling dwelling cycles, wall cavity components which make up – create perm / dew point values – building design science (normally concealed on initial evaluation)

Should the home owner | area representative attend an inspection period?

Yes, recommended. Not necessary.

Does the dwelling need to be prepared before the inspection? How?

Yes – recommended

Is the cost worth it?

Another way you could look at this question is, “Is it worth taking the risk by not having a thermal imaging inspection”?

Thermal imaging is a powerful, non-contact inspection method capable of identifying unusual condition(s). Risk mitigation should be a focal point .

Are all thermal cameras the same?


Is “thermography” and “thermal imaging” the same thing?

The thermal radiation and the infrared radiation are the same thing if the sources of the radiation have temperatures comparable to the room temperature.

Who reads the raw images and reports?

The trained accredited thermographer.

As a client how do I interpret the thermal image?

Leave this to an accredited thermographer, in order to interpret the thermal images correctly the operator needs to know how different materials and circumstances influence the temperature readings from the thermal imaging camera.

The easiest way to interpret your thermal images is to have one of our certified technicians explain them in layman’s terms through an easy to digest report, summary.

Some of the most important factors influencing the temperature readings are:

Thermal conductivity

Different materials have different thermal properties. Insulation tends to warm up slowly, while metals tend to warm up quickly. This is called thermal conductivity. Difference in thermal properties in two different materials can lead to large temperature differences in certain situations.


To read correct temperatures, one important thing needs to be taken into account, and that is a factor known as emissivity. Emissivity is the efficiency with which an object emits infrared radiation. This is highly dependent on material properties. It is extremely important to set the right emissivity in the camera or the temperature measurements will be incorrect. BY POLICY at Property Inspection Service, Inc. emissivity camera correction factor is set very high (.98). Telling the camera that the surface inspected is minimally

reflective, and the camera will make a very small reporting correction. The benefit of setting an emissivity factor very high is that when a temperature is displayed by the camera line of site – readily accessible of the inspection component(s) surface, the value is considered as minimum value.


Some materials, such as most metals, reflect thermal radiation much like a mirror reflects visible light. Reflections can lead to misinterpretation of the thermal image; the reflection of thermal radiation from the operator’s own body or from a light bulb might lead to a false temperature reading. The operator should therefore choose the angle (or angles) at which the thermal imaging camera is pointed at the object carefully, to avoid such reflections. If the object’s surface material has a low emissivity and there is a large difference in temperature between the object and the ambient temperature, the reflection of incident radiation will influence the temperature readings from the thermal imaging camera.

Indoor and outside temperatures

Usually a temperature difference of at least 20 °F +/- between the two sides of the wall is advisable.

Influences on the outside of a building

It goes without saying that direct sunlight can influence thermal readings, but sunlight can have long lasting effects as well. Direct sunlight and shadows might even influence the thermal pattern on a surface many hours after the exposure to sunlight has ended. Differences in thermal conductivity can also cause differences in thermal patterns. Brick changes temperature much slower than wood, for example. Wind can also influence the thermal data. Airflows cool down the surface material, lowering the temperature differences between hot and cold areas.

Heating and ventilation systems

External influences on surface temperatures can also be found indoors. Ambient temperature can influence the object surface temperature, but there’s another factor as well: climate control. Heating | Cooling systems create temperature differences that can cause misleading thermal patterns. Cool air flowing from ventilators or air conditioning systems can have the opposite effect, cooling down the surface.

Influences on the inside of the building

Bookshelves, cabinets and pictures hanging on the wall can also change the thermal pattern. These examples of furniture and wall decorations have an insulating effect. If these things are taken away from the wall, that area of the wall will show up in the thermal image as being colder. This might be confused for missing insulation. For that reason it is advisable to remove items from the wall at least 6 hours before inspection.

Reflections from the surroundings

When scanning reflective targets, changing  angle to minimize the reflections on an image, you may see multi images of the same wall.

Does thermal imaging see through walls?

Unlike the movies, with infrared, we cannot see through walls. We can only see temperature differences present due to the

conduction, convection, or radiation of thermal energy. While shorter infrared waves can be displayed / seen with color pallets, as infrared waves get longer they give off radiation in the form of thermal energy. Infrared waves are considered energy.

Infrared cameras look at radiated energy from the first 1/1000” of the surface

As most walls are thick to keep a building insulated, a thermal camera usually has no way of picking up on the heat on the other side of the wall.