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Finding Air Leaks through Thermographic Inspection

What is Thermographic Inspection?

Some people opt to do a home inspection on their own. They check their windows and doors for air leaks, and the attic for proper insulation, and then they do the repairs themselves. But some people opt to call in the pros – contractors who can take a more high-tech look at a building to see exactly where the heat loss is coming from. Thermographic Inspections use infrared scanning to detect thermal defects and air leaks in buildings. By knowing exactly where those problem areas are, and fixing them, consumers can save 5%-30% on their energy bills. But what exactly is a thermographic inspection?

In the simplest explanation possible: An energy auditor uses this technology to detect where your home is losing heat. 

A thermographic scan measures surface temperatures by using infrared video and still cameras. Images on the video or film record the temperature variations of the building's shell, and these images help the auditor determine if the existing insulation has been installed correctly or if additional insulation is needed. 

Although thermographic inspections can be done from both outside or inside the building, internal inspections are the more popular choice due to their accuracy. External inspections have to factor in other elements, like wind, which can lead to skewed results. 

In addition to the thermographic scan itself, professionals also use other tactics to test the air tightness of a building or home. One common tactic is the blower door test, which consists of a special door that pulls out the air in a building or home and lowers the air pressure. From there, the higher outside air pressure leaks in, and professionals can find the leaks and unsealed cracks through the infrared camera's viewfinder. 


Types of Thermographic Inspection Devices

Spot Radiometer: This device, also called a point radiometer, is the simplest option and does exactly as it's name implies. It tests individual spots (or points) of a building one at a time, and measures the radiation of that spot. To do this, the device has a very simple meter that shows the temperature of the designated area. If that area's temperature is substantially different than other areas, it's likely it has an air leak.  

Thermal Line Scanner: Instead of measuring one single area at a time, this device scans the entire area and produces an image displaying the variations in radiant temperatures. The produced image, known as a thermogram, is superimposed – meaning the thermal variations are shown over the image of the scanned area on a line.   

Thermal Imaging Camera: Of the three types of thermographic inspection devices, the thermal imaging camera is the most efficient and accurate. Instead of a simple outline of your home, filled in with various colors representing the thermal radiation temperatures, a thermal imaging camera produces a two-dimensional image to show exactly where the heat leakage is located. Compared to the other devices, this one provides the necessary details for a complete home energy assessment.  

Owners utilize thermographic inspections on both existing buildings and future properties to examine their energy efficiency. To view your own home energy efficiency through a thermographic inspection, contact your local utility company or look for home energy auditors in your area. For other home comfort questions, contact your local heating and cooling experts


For more energy saving and home comfort tips, visit! Stay Comfy, Minnesota is your Minnesota resource for air conditioning repair, furnace repair and HVAC tips and advice. 

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