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Infrared Camera - what to look for

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Infrared Camera - what to look for

SO I borrowed a infrared camera from the local library for a few weeks. What should I be looking for in the images. Been doing some random testing just to get used to it. this morning was very cold so the windows were blue and the walls were red/orange

If Im scanning a room and see changes in colour say top of the wall, or other areas, does that mean cold intrusion? Or do different shades mean different things.

I plan on doing the entire house, even though we got it done with a home inspector in Nov, we never got any info from him with what he found

We had frost on the inside of a outer basement bedroom wall for the first time ever owning a house, which I am not happy with. Newest house we have ever lived in, Im wondering what cut backs were done from the builder.

This bedroom isn't under ground like we have been used to in the past, as the south side of the house is a walk out. So the south wall that I found this frost is on an outer exposed wall, compared to the usual underground wall with a basement. Although that shouldn't matter
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Deal Addict
Nov 17, 2012
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Toronto
Blue = cold, Red = warm. You already figured that out. What else is there? If there is blue where there shouldn't be, you have poor insulation or air infiltration. Figure out the source and fix it.

If you have frost on the inside of a wall, it means there is crap insulation in there. The moisture from the interior air is condensing and freezing on the cold surface of the drywall. Your camera should show it colder than walls without frost.

Rip all the exterior walls open, insulate, put proper sealed vapor barrier (better yet spray-foam) and fix the drywall. If the walls aren't thick enough to attain a proper R-value, then fir out the walls to make them thicker, move all the electrical that might be on the walls out and insulate/vapor barrier/drywall.
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Nov 17, 2012
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Or move out of Saskatchewan. It's too cold there. I grew up in Winnipeg and the moment I could, moved to warmer climes. Not the deep south - just Toronto, the place people love to hate.
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torontotim wrote: Blue = cold, Red = warm. You already figured that out. What else is there? If there is blue where there shouldn't be, you have poor insulation or air infiltration. Figure out the source and fix it.

If you have frost on the inside of a wall, it means there is crap insulation in there. The moisture from the interior air is condensing and freezing on the cold surface of the drywall. Your camera should show it colder than walls without frost.

Rip all the exterior walls open, insulate, put proper sealed vapor barrier (better yet spray-foam) and fix the drywall. If the walls aren't thick enough to attain a proper R-value, then fir out the walls to make them thicker, move all the electrical that might be on the walls out and insulate/vapor barrier/drywall.
Sounds like tens of thousands of dollars of work. Maybe Ill use that to sue the home inspector, the home builder and the city for letting so many things not to code "pass code" Expecially the HVAC setup, which has so many things not done right I don't see how it passed inspection. Lets put one vent in the lower portion of the wall, the farthest away from the furnace as we can, ya this room doesn't need any air circulation, as its 5 degrees cooler than the rest if the house. But it looks good see, no vents in the ceiling

Home inspector after the fact is useless, bullshit excuses, and any questioning I had after the fact more excuses.

Maybe if he did an actual job instead of "an electrical outlet is missing a cover" captain obvious, I wouldn't of bought the place, or asked for a way lower price to compensate to fix it correctly

Getting really sick of being taken advantage of, no matter how well you try and cover things, all it takes is someone not doing their job correctly. What do they care, the cost isn't on them

Reminds me of the one time I took my taxs to an accountant, and they never did them right. I had a business at the time and they never did a bunch of deductions, etc. Wondered why it was done so fast. I had to redo them all myself after the fact
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Nov 17, 2012
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Toronto
Yup - home inspections are a problem everywhere. No licensing, no regulation. Unless you hire Mike Holmes, you're rolling the dice ;)

Toss a space heater in the area where frost is happening - compensate for the perhaps less than great insulation with a bit of electric heat. An infrared heater pointed at the wall in question will keep the surface warm and should prevent condensation on it.

Cheaper than ripping walls open. I had the same problem in my first home in a corner bedroom. On the outside corner we got a bit of frost from time to time. I guess there was limited insulation in the corner, which is natural given framing realities. I never paid it much mind and sold the house in 5 years.

Nothing you can do about the home inspector. I don't know about the builder though, and what sort of warranties might apply if the house is new/newer.

My house is 110 years old, so I'd have some challenges digging up the builder - literally.
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Aug 2, 2001
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WikkiWikki wrote: Sounds like tens of thousands of dollars of work. Maybe Ill use that to sue the home inspector, the home builder and the city for letting so many things not to code "pass code" Expecially the HVAC setup, which has so many things not done right I don't see how it passed inspection. Lets put one vent in the lower portion of the wall, the farthest away from the furnace as we can, ya this room doesn't need any air circulation, as its 5 degrees cooler than the rest if the house. But it looks good see, no vents in the ceiling

Home inspector after the fact is useless, bullshit excuses, and any questioning I had after the fact more excuses.

Maybe if he did an actual job instead of "an electrical outlet is missing a cover" captain obvious, I wouldn't of bought the place, or asked for a way lower price to compensate to fix it correctly

Getting really sick of being taken advantage of, no matter how well you try and cover things, all it takes is someone not doing their job correctly. What do they care, the cost isn't on them

Reminds me of the one time I took my taxs to an accountant, and they never did them right. I had a business at the time and they never did a bunch of deductions, etc. Wondered why it was done so fast. I had to redo them all myself after the fact
I'm not trying to be a dick - but you're exactly the person that someone wants to buy a house from. Reading through your recent series of posts you actually seem eager to fix all those little nagging problems that many (dare I say most) ignore. You're actually putting money and time into fixing these things, things that will likely result in no financial gain for you.

My advice is to figure out where the differences are in your home by using the camera - it's done a scale with the colours. It is likely that the majority of the house is fine and should scan in a similar fashion, however if the insulation has settled (or pieces were missing) you'll see obvious differences. Once you determine where the problem is I would make couple small holes (I'm guessing you can patch them yourself) to see what the problem is (if you have a cheap borescope that would be awesome or can borrow an inspection camera). For example, if the problem is a matter of insulation settling or missing you can get a company to come in and drill a hole into each cavity blowing insulation inside (you can just do cellulose or fibreglass).

It should be easy to see problems from poor workmanship in cases of missing insulation in places, not sealing around windows, etc.
[OP]
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torontotim wrote: Yup - home inspections are a problem everywhere. No licensing, no regulation. Unless you hire Mike Holmes, you're rolling the dice ;)

Toss a space heater in the area where frost is happening - compensate for the perhaps less than great insulation with a bit of electric heat. An infrared heater pointed at the wall in question will keep the surface warm and should prevent condensation on it.

Cheaper than ripping walls open. I had the same problem in my first home in a corner bedroom. On the outside corner we got a bit of frost from time to time. I guess there was limited insulation in the corner, which is natural given framing realities. I never paid it much mind and sold the house in 5 years.

Nothing you can do about the home inspector. I don't know about the builder though, and what sort of warranties might apply if the house is new/newer.

My house is 110 years old, so I'd have some challenges digging up the builder - literally.
Well I did learn that a bean bag chair was left in the corner all the time, so no air flow, even so there shouldn't be any frost.

Just bugs me you do as much research and coverage to make sure you making a good purchase and this stuff crops up

I also know these rooms don't have very good air flow. Not only bad air flow to the vents, but the return vents as well don't seem to have much "suction" So these bedroom have higher humidty at night even with the furnace fan on because of bad air balancing. So that adds to the cold wall as well since there is extra moisture in the room.

Well when I say the house is new, its new to us. 2006 is when it was built and the builder is around. Problem is this house like many in this area were built in a housing boom. So I can just imagine the cutbacks done to build these. I wonder if I ever did tear this apart and find cutbacks how that works on an older house, if the builder is still around
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TrevorK wrote: I'm not trying to be a dick - but you're exactly the person that someone wants to buy a house from. Reading through your recent series of posts you actually seem eager to fix all those little nagging problems that many (dare I say most) ignore. You're actually putting money and time into fixing these things, things that will likely result in no financial gain for you.

My advice is to figure out where the differences are in your home by using the camera - it's done a scale with the colours. It is likely that the majority of the house is fine and should scan in a similar fashion, however if the insulation has settled (or pieces were missing) you'll see obvious differences. Once you determine where the problem is I would make couple small holes (I'm guessing you can patch them yourself) to see what the problem is (if you have a cheap borescope that would be awesome or can borrow an inspection camera). For example, if the problem is a matter of insulation settling or missing you can get a company to come in and drill a hole into each cavity blowing insulation inside (you can just do cellulose or fibreglass).

It should be easy to see problems from poor workmanship in cases of missing insulation in places, not sealing around windows, etc.
Unfortunately, these things would of never of been discovered until you live here. And for a fact the old owners new, but why say something if nothing is found. We shopped for months, looked at the place at least 5 times, compared to some others we looked at, and then decided. I thought all bases were covered, RPR correct, all permits correct, house inspection, etc

Hard coming from a house of 11 years that was rock solid and none of these sort of issues. Sure we fixed things over the years, but nothing major like HVAC or moisture issues.

I have been doing some scanning this weekend. Some ceiling cold spots where the celling meets the roof, reading that seems to be a common issue. I plan on taking snapshots of whatever areas and making a list and fixing as I go along. Maybe borrow the camera once a year and test it each winter.

I know that the HVAC shouldn't of passed code, but it did. The basement bedrooms the vents are nowhere near the windows. So there is no air flow close to the windows, which causes condensation even when the humifty is low. But to fix this correctly would mean ripping the roof and walls apart in each room.

Is a good winter to discover these things, its been so brutal cold for so long.

|this is our next forever home, so Im fine fixing things correct, because then when it comes to the eventual sale, I can say its been done. Just like our old place, we had zero to hide.
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So did some random testing last night with the temps dropping. The corner with the frost issue was about 2 degrees, with the lowest at the floor and the corner. So an issue for sure, but how to fix that, Spray foam? Or this being like this since it was built, take down the drywall and check for potential mold? I dont want to bandaid it, I want it repaired right

As well tried the camera on the vents in the house. Were there is good air flow the registers were around 32 degress when the furnace was suppliying heat. The ones with terrible airflow were only around 22 degrees, so arounf a 10 degree difference. So not only are these rooms not getting the air flow, they arent even receiving the correct heat because of the distance, so no wonder we have a 5 degree difference in these rooms
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I've yet to see a home that doesn't have some problem or another, if you are looking hard enough for them. Some problem types irratate people more than others depending on the person, and their thinking.

My own home has areas where I can have a temperature delta of 6C, and certain corners are prone to frosting if the air circulation is blocked. It bugs me at times, but you adapt and learn to live with it, as compared to other peoples problems, its tolerable ... at least it's not foundation cracks, backed up sewers, roof ice damping, etc.

And the worst part is, I've seen homeowners go out of their way to fix one problem, and inadvertantly create another problem unexpectedly. What fixes a problem during the winter, now creates a problem elsewhere during the hot summer months.

There is never a perfect home ...
I'd rather be outdoors camping, kayaking, and mountain biking ...
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Jojo_Madman wrote: I've yet to see a home that doesn't have some problem or another, if you are looking hard enough for them. Some problem types irratate people more than others depending on the person, and their thinking.

My own home has areas where I can have a temperature delta of 6C, and certain corners are prone to frosting if the air circulation is blocked. It bugs me at times, but you adapt and learn to live with it, as compared to other peoples problems, its tolerable ... at least it's not foundation cracks, backed up sewers, roof ice damping, etc.

And the worst part is, I've seen homeowners go out of their way to fix one problem, and inadvertantly create another problem unexpectedly. What fixes a problem during the winter, now creates a problem elsewhere during the hot summer months.

There is never a perfect home ...
Im just fixing them, taking anyone to court over this is a waste of my time and money, and just me being pissed off at people.. I just have to deal with the fact, and I have been for decades, that if someone can screw you over for money they will

My first thing is to get this air balancing fixed in the house, which will help with room temps and as well as humidity to. I know thats not fixing insulation issues, but one step at a time. Having a walk out basement is new to us. As any other basement we have owner, we never had wall exposure to the elements at the bottom before. Since usualy its protected by earth, so temp fluctuations werent as big of an issue, same as wind, sun exposure etc.

This area where it is cold is subjects to all of that, well that entire side of the house is.

Agreed there is no perfect home. Spring time Im sure will show more things Im sure. At least my roof is good, no clear spots, and I did check that when we moved in, and its dry, no mold, etc
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Rona had one on clearance for $137.40 I know I have the one from the library, but I think this is a good tool to have in the home owners arsenal. I know I will try and do a lot of things myself, and some are pretty obvious already. Under the porch there are now batts against the inside rim joists for one. Small things but it all adds up. Wait for a Roxull sale and then add some there

https://www.rona.ca/en/12-v-thermometer

What I am trying to figure out with some searching online, infrared camera are also used to detect water leaks or moisture issues. So how does the colour differ from a cold spot, or are they the same, and its either cold leaks or moisture?
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WikkiWikki wrote: So did some random testing last night with the temps dropping. The corner with the frost issue was about 2 degrees, with the lowest at the floor and the corner. So an issue for sure, but how to fix that, Spray foam? Or this being like this since it was built, take down the drywall and check for potential mold? I dont want to bandaid it, I want it repaired right

As well tried the camera on the vents in the house. Were there is good air flow the registers were around 32 degress when the furnace was suppliying heat. The ones with terrible airflow were only around 22 degrees, so arounf a 10 degree difference. So not only are these rooms not getting the air flow, they arent even receiving the correct heat because of the distance, so no wonder we have a 5 degree difference in these rooms
I believe there can be some inaccuracies when using an infrared camera on certain surfaces, so I think if it were me I would measure temperature from the furnace air in a more accurate way. Most houses have an instant-read thermometer for cooking - use that. For example I took readings to two rooms (by insert in the vent) to figure out what the heat is different and my results were 106 degrees and 122 degrees (41 and 50 celsius). The reason I mention this is because measuring the temperature of the air rather than the surface is more meaningful.

My temperature patterns are actually similar to yours (I have one room that's colder, but it has two outside walls and all other bedrooms have one) - the reading is much lower at the bottom of the walls and in the corner where two outside walls meet. My thought was to first replace the fibreglass insulation in the rim joist area with foam.

In your case if you are looking at taking down the drywall in the corner I would just be prepared to sprayfoam it. Compressing fibreglass makes it loss R Value and I'd assume that the insulation in the corner is compressed just because it's way easier / quicker for the installer.
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TrevorK wrote: I believe there can be some inaccuracies when using an infrared camera on certain surfaces, so I think if it were me I would measure temperature from the furnace air in a more accurate way. Most houses have an instant-read thermometer for cooking - use that. For example I took readings to two rooms (by insert in the vent) to figure out what the heat is different and my results were 106 degrees and 122 degrees (41 and 50 celsius). The reason I mention this is because measuring the temperature of the air rather than the surface is more meaningful.

My temperature patterns are actually similar to yours (I have one room that's colder, but it has two outside walls and all other bedrooms have one) - the reading is much lower at the bottom of the walls and in the corner where two outside walls meet. My thought was to first replace the fibreglass insulation in the rim joist area with foam.

In your case if you are looking at taking down the drywall in the corner I would just be prepared to sprayfoam it. Compressing fibreglass makes it loss R Value and I'd assume that the insulation in the corner is compressed just because it's way easier / quicker for the installer.
This is will be a step by step process, with of course the most expensive stuff left to last. I will leave tearing off drywall as the last thing, but if it has to happen it will. The one corner compared to another corner is worse off. For now, nothing will be left in front of the area, so at least air flow will stop frost from forming (i hope)

I already got a home energy assesment done, so I can access more rebates, etc if I plan on doing this. Money up front but my last house I actually made money doing it all. Was work for me, but it paid off in the long run. I mean even doing air sealing I can get rebates back, as long as its proved with a before and after blower door test.

Moving in the dead of winter wasnt something I wanted, but it happened. I cant do anything outside or really inside with the temps. Even doing caulking, I want to wait until spring so it warms up and things adhere correctly, and testing seals doesnt freeze the house out.

If the low air flow to these two basement rooms can only be fixed by not having them in wall, then that will happen to. But I will try other non invasive tactics first before doing that. Because that will mean ceiling and wall dry wall ripped off, since the wall runs would have to be removed as well and reinsulated

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