radon system

So, you had a radon test and it came back high, now what do you do?  Radon mitigation is a relatively simple system that keeps the radon from entering the house in the first place.  Radon comes up from the ground as uranium decays and typically enters the house from the basement and more specifically, through the drain tile system, into the sump crock, and then into the basement.  The goal of the mitigation system is to interrupt that process by venting the radon outside and above the roofline before it has a chance to come into the basement.  This is done by sealing the sump crock and using a fan to pull the radon out.  Notice the round object in the picture near the bottom about the size of a basketball.  Per EPA guidelines, that fan can’t be in livable space.  It is typically on the exterior, garage, or attic.  This is because if the couplings are not sealed properly from the fan to the piping, you are now actively pulling radon into the living environment and making things much worse.  Proper operation of the fan can be observed on the piping via the radon manometer.  This is a U shaped vial of liquid, that indicates suction and fan operation.  It does not indicate the level of radon.  The only way to know the level of radon in the home is to test for it.  Visit our website for more information or to schedule a test.

Radon Manometer

Radon Manometer

radon system

Exterior portion of the radon mitigation system

Reverse polarity outlet
Receptacle

Typical outlet

During home inspections, we are testing every accessible outlet to verify that they are wired correctly.  Often times they are not, especially on older homes that were built with the older style, 2 prong ungrounded outlets.  Homeowners would upgrade the outlets themselves and sometimes not do it correctly.  The two issues we see the most are open ground and reverse polarity outlets.  The good news is, these are relatively easy fixes and can be done by someone who has knowledge of electricity.

Open ground outlets happen when the ground wire is not connected, there is no ground wire and the sheathing is the ground, or if the wires are old enough, are not able to be grounded with out a complete upgrade.  This picture is an example of an open ground, only showing one yellow light.

Reverse polarity is a little different.  If the hot and neutral wires are reversed, the outlet will still work, but is “backwards”.  Basically, electricity is a one way street, and with reverse polarity, it is going the wrong way.  The power is still there but not as safe as it should be.  The wires need to be flipped so it is flowing the correct way.

Reverse polarity outlet

Either way the fix is easy and simple for an electrician or someone who has worked with electricity.  The National Electric Code outlines how the receptacles should be properly wired.  Please visit cornerstonehi.com for more information or to schedule an inspection.

Attic Growth

Possible Fungal Growth in the AtticGrowth in the attic is a serious problem and more common than most people think.  Discolorations that are black, grey, white and often look fuzzy are examples of growth.  Growth can be found in any area but is often found in attics where people are not checking very often.  Growth is often caused by insufficient insulation, insufficient venting, or more often a combination of both.

With insufficient insulation, heat loss from the house to the attic, will cause condensation to form.  If there is not sufficient venting to get the heat loss out of the attic, active moisture condenses and causes a problem.  Mold or fungal growth needs a food source (generally the wood) and moisture, either from high humidity levels or an active leak.  Roof leaks tend to show themselves in the house itself and most people get those fixed.  High humidity due to insufficient venting is harder to notice.

No mater the cause, it is fixable and can be handled, but may not be a cheap fix.  The growth must first be mitigated and killed.  Venting must be improved and insulation levels improved.  Current levels of venting should be 1.5 square feet of free vent space for every 300 square feet of attic space.  There should be as much or more intake venting as there is exhaust venting for the system to function properly.  Insulation levels should be a minimum of R38 but more often recommended R50.  Amount of insulation will vary on the type of insulation as each has a different R value.

For more information or to schedule an inspection, visit www.cornerstonehi.com

 

Live knob and tube present in the attic.

Live knob and tube present in the attic. From Wikipedia:  Knob-and-tube wiring (sometimes abbreviated K&T) is an early standardized method of electrical wiring in buildings, in common use in North America from about 1880 to the 1930s.[1][2] It consisted of single-insulated copper conductors run within wall or ceiling cavities, passing through joist and stud drill-holes via protective porcelain insulating tubes, and supported along their length on nailed-down porcelain knob insulators. Where conductors entered a wiring device such as a lamp or switch, or were pulled into a wall, they were protected by flexible cloth insulating sleeving called loom.

For early wiring, knob and tube did the job, but it was new a long time ago, and as we know, all things age.  Wiring that is 100+ years old in itself is a safety hazard, but is not against code.  Knob and tube wiring in contact with insulation is not allowed, but if not it still, technically is allowed.  The problem at this point is insurance companies.  Only a handful of companies still exist that will insure knob and tube, and at higher rates.  Basically, it needs to go.  The two most obvious places to find knob and tube are the basement, before going up into the walls and the attic where it often times is exposed.  Unfortunately, it can be present inside the walls and not visible.  Please visit cornerstonehi.com for more information or to schedule an inspection.

Live knob and tube in the garageknob and tube connecting to BX Cable

The main electrical disconnect must be located within 8 feet of entering the building from the service meter.  Most of the time you will see the main electrical panel located directly opposite the service meter to satisfy that rule. If a different location is desired, the main disconnect will often be located on the service meter itself, with a sub panel located anywhere in the house.  That allows the wire from the new main disconnect to be protected from shorting out.  Without that, the wire from the meter to the disconnect is not protected and susceptible to shorting out.  Recently on a newer construction in the Waukesha area, the only panel in the house was located in the first floor laundry room.

This is unusual but it was properly wired as a sub panel with a raceway present from the meter to the sub panel.  The distance from the meter however, through the basement and to the eventual sub-panel was more than 13 feet, longer than the maximum allowable 8 feet.  Because this was newer construction, the Waukesha building inspector was consulted and agreed that the current setup was not right.  A separate disconnect needed to be added within 8 feet.

 

 

Federal Pacific Stab Lok Panel

Federal Pacific Stab Lok Electrical Panel

Federal Pacific Stab Lok brand of electrical panels and circuit breakers were manufactured between 1950 and 1980.  The biggest issue with the breakers is they do not securely lock into the panel and are often loose which can lead to arcing and potentially fires.  Stab Lok breakers frequently failed Underwriters Laboratory testing and were discontinued, Federal Pacific was sold to a different manufacturer.

It is widely accepted in the electrical industry that FP Stab Lok panels are no longer safe and should be replaced when found.

Stab Lok breakers can be identified by the breaker going toward the outside of the panel when in the on position versus the typical breaker going to the interior.

It is also recommended that these panels are not opened, that an electrician is called to evaluate and replace the panels.

Click on this link for a video demonstrating the Stab Lok panel in action.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zd80ql5-B2A

Exterior house view of thermal imaging.

“What Is Thermal Imaging & Why Is It Important for a Home Inspection?”

 

  1. Introduction
  2. Brief explanation of home inspections and their significance
  3. Introduction to thermal imaging and its growing role in home inspections

 

  1. Understanding Thermal Imaging
  2. Definition and principles of thermal imaging
  3. How thermal imaging works in detecting temperature variations
  4. Key components of a thermal imaging camera
  5. Differentiating between thermal imaging and traditional visual inspections

 

III. The Importance of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections

  1. Identifying hidden issues
  2. Detecting insulation deficiencies
  3. Locating air leaks and drafts
  4. Spotting moisture intrusion and water damage
  5. Enhancing electrical inspections
  6. Locating overheating electrical components
  7. Detecting electrical faults and fire hazards
  8. Identifying plumbing issues
  9. Pinpointing hidden leaks and pipe damage
  10. Evaluating the efficiency of radiant heating systems
  11. Detecting structural anomalies
  12. Identifying heat loss and energy inefficiencies
  13. Detecting foundation cracks and structural defects

 

  1. Advantages of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections
  2. Non-invasive and non-destructive nature
  3. Time and cost efficiency
  4. Comprehensive and accurate assessments
  5. Enhanced safety and risk mitigation

 

  1. Limitations of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections
  2. External factors influencing accuracy
  3. Interpretation challenges and the need for expertise
  4. Limitations in identifying certain issues

 

  1. Case Studies and Real-Life Examples
  2. Success stories of thermal imaging in home inspections
  3. Examples of issues detected by thermal imaging
  4. Impact of thermal imaging on decision-making and negotiations

 

VII. The Future of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections

  1. Technological advancements and improvements
  2. Integration of artificial intelligence in thermal imaging
  3. Potential impact on home inspection standards and regulations

 

VIII. Conclusion

  1. Recap of the importance of thermal imaging in home inspections
  2. Encouragement for homeowners and buyers to consider thermal imaging
  3. Final thoughts on the future of thermal imaging in the industry

 

Introduction

 

Home inspections are a vital part of the real estate process, providing potential buyers and homeowners with a comprehensive assessment of a property’s condition. These inspections aim to identify any existing or potential issues that could affect the safety, functionality, and value of a home. 

In recent years, thermal imaging has emerged as a valuable tool in conducting thorough and efficient home inspections. By detecting temperature variations, thermal imaging can uncover hidden problems that may not be visible to the naked eye. In this article, we will explore the importance of thermal imaging in home inspections and how it can benefit both buyers and homeowners.

 

Understanding Thermal Imaging

 

Thermal imaging utilizes infrared technology to capture and analyze temperature patterns emitted by objects and surfaces. It works by detecting the infrared radiation emitted by objects, converting it into a visual representation called a thermogram. The resulting image displays variations in temperature, with warmer areas appearing as brighter colors and cooler areas as darker colors.

 

To perform a thermal inspection, a qualified professional uses a thermal imaging camera. These cameras are equipped with special sensors that can detect and measure infrared radiation accurately. They are designed to capture and interpret temperature variations, allowing inspectors to identify potential issues that may be otherwise hidden from view.

 

The Importance of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections

 

Identifying Hidden Issues

One of the primary reasons thermal imaging is crucial in-home inspections is its ability to detect hidden issues. Many problems, such as insulation deficiencies, air leaks, and moisture intrusion, may not be immediately visible to the naked eye. Thermal imaging can reveal temperature differences that indicate these problems, enabling inspectors to pinpoint their exact locations.

 

Insulation deficiencies: Inadequate insulation can result in significant energy loss and increased utility bills. Thermal imaging can quickly identify areas with insufficient insulation by detecting temperature variations along walls, ceilings, and floors. This allows homeowners to take corrective measures and improve energy efficiency.

 

Air leaks and drafts: Air leaks can significantly impact a home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Thermal imaging can reveal gaps and cracks in the building envelope, as well as areas where drafts are entering or escaping. By identifying these issues, homeowners can address them promptly, reducing energy waste and enhancing indoor comfort.

 

Moisture intrusion and water damage: Moisture intrusion can lead to mold growth, rot, and structural damage. Thermal imaging can detect hidden moisture by identifying cooler areas caused by water absorption or leaks. This early detection allows homeowners to mitigate the damage before it becomes extensive and costly.

 

Enhancing Electrical Inspections

Electrical issues pose serious safety hazards and are often difficult to detect visually. Thermal imaging can help inspectors identify electrical faults and potential fire hazards by detecting abnormal heat patterns. Overheating electrical components, loose connections, and overloaded circuits can be quickly identified using thermal imaging. This early detection can prevent electrical fires and protect the occupants of the home.

 

Identifying Plumbing Issues

Thermal imaging can be instrumental in locating plumbing issues that are not immediately apparent. It can detect hidden leaks behind walls, ceilings, or floors by identifying temperature differences caused by moisture. By pinpointing the precise location of leaks, homeowners can minimize water damage and reduce the risk of mold growth.

 

Thermal imaging is also valuable in evaluating the efficiency of radiant heating systems. It can identify areas of heat loss or malfunctioning components, ensuring optimal performance and comfort within the home.

 

Detecting Structural Anomalies

Thermal imaging can help uncover structural anomalies that may not be visible during a traditional visual inspection. It can detect heat loss or thermal bridging in walls, windows, and roofs, indicating potential insulation issues or energy inefficiencies. Additionally, thermal imaging can identify foundation cracks or areas of excessive moisture, providing early warning signs of potential structural defects.

 

Thermal Imaging AdvantagesAdvantages of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections

 

Thermal imaging offers several advantages over traditional visual inspections in the context of home inspections:

 

Non-invasive and Non-Destructive: Thermal imaging is a non-invasive and non-destructive method of inspection. It does not require physical contact with the surfaces being examined, minimizing the disruption to the property and reducing the risk of further damage.

 

Time and Cost Efficiency: Thermal imaging enables inspectors to identify issues quickly and efficiently. It can detect problems that may otherwise require extensive manual investigation or even invasive testing. By streamlining the inspection process, thermal imaging saves both time and costs for homeowners and buyers.

 

Comprehensive and Accurate Assessments: Thermal imaging provides a comprehensive assessment of a property’s condition. It offers a visual representation of temperature differences, allowing inspectors to identify multiple issues simultaneously. This comprehensive approach ensures a more accurate evaluation of the property’s overall health and helps prioritize repairs and maintenance.

 

Enhanced Safety and Risk Mitigation: Thermal imaging can identify potential safety hazards such as electrical faults or overheating components. By detecting these issues early on, homeowners can take appropriate measures to address them promptly, minimizing the risk of accidents, injuries, or property damage.

 

Limitations of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections

 

While thermal imaging is a valuable tool, it also has some limitations that need to be considered:

 

External Factors Influencing Accuracy: External factors, such as weather conditions, can affect the accuracy of thermal imaging. Factors like solar radiation, wind, or reflective surfaces can distort temperature readings and impact the interpretation of the thermograms. Therefore, it is essential for inspectors to consider and account for these factors during the inspection process.

 

Interpretation Challenges and the Need for Expertise: Thermal imaging requires expertise in interpreting thermograms accurately. Identifying potential issues and distinguishing them from normal temperature variations can be challenging, especially in complex building structures. Inspectors with specialized training and experience in thermal imaging are better equipped to analyze the results accurately.

 

Limitations in Identifying Certain Issues: Thermal imaging is not a foolproof method for detecting all types of issues. For example, it cannot identify mold or asbestos directly, as they do not emit significant temperature variations. Additionally, certain hidden problems, such as structural defects deep within walls, may not be detectable through thermal imaging alone. Therefore, thermal imaging should be used in conjunction with other inspection techniques to ensure a comprehensive assessment.

 

Case Studies and Real-Life Examples

 

To understand the practical applications of thermal imaging in home inspections, let’s explore a few case studies and real-life examples:

 

Insulation Deficiencies: During a home inspection, thermal imaging identified areas of inadequate insulation in the attic. The temperature variations revealed heat loss, indicating insufficient insulation coverage. This information allowed homeowners to take corrective measures, resulting in improved energy efficiency and reduced utility bills.

 

Electrical Faults: Thermal imaging detected an overheating electrical component within a wall during an inspection. This early identification enabled the homeowner to address the issue promptly, preventing a potential electrical fire and ensuring the safety of the property.

 

Hidden Water Damage: In a home inspection, thermal imaging uncovered a hidden water leak in a bathroom wall. The temperature differences detected by the camera indicated moisture intrusion. By locating the precise source of the leak, the homeowner was able to repair the plumbing and prevent further water damage and mold growth.

 

The Future of Thermal Imaging in Home Inspections

 

As technology continues to advance, the future of thermal imaging in home inspections looks promising. Here are a few potential developments to look out for:

 

Technological Advancements and Improvements: Thermal imaging cameras are becoming more compact, affordable, and user-friendly. Ongoing advancements in sensor technology and image processing algorithms are likely to enhance the accuracy and quality of thermal imaging results.

 

Integration of Artificial Intelligence in Thermal Imaging: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize thermal imaging in home inspections. AI algorithms can be trained to analyze and interpret thermal images, automating the detection of anomalies and improving the efficiency of inspections. Machine learning techniques can help AI systems learn from vast amounts of data, enabling them to identify patterns and abnormalities more accurately over time.

 

Potential Impact on Home Inspection Standards and Regulations: The increasing adoption of thermal imaging in home inspections may lead to changes in industry standards and regulations. As thermal imaging becomes a more widely accepted and integrated tool, regulatory bodies may update guidelines to include specific requirements for thermal inspections. This could further emphasize the importance of thermal imaging as a standard practice in home inspections.

 

Conclusion

 

Thermal imaging has emerged as a valuable tool in modern home inspections, providing insights into hidden issues that may not be apparent during visual inspections. By detecting temperature variations, thermal imaging can identify insulation deficiencies, air leaks, plumbing issues, electrical faults, and structural anomalies. Its non-invasive nature, time and cost efficiency, comprehensive assessments, and enhanced safety benefits make it an essential component of a thorough home inspection.

 

While thermal imaging has limitations and requires expertise for accurate interpretation, it remains a powerful tool in the hands of qualified inspectors. As technology advances, with the integration of AI and improvements in camera technology, the future of thermal imaging in home inspections holds great promise. It is likely to become an even more integral part of the industry, contributing to improved safety, energy efficiency, and informed decision-making for homeowners and buyers alike.

 

REFERENCES: 

U.S. Department of Energy. (n.d.). Thermal Imaging for Home Inspections. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/thermographic-inspections

InterNACHI. (n.d.). Infrared Thermography Inspection.
https://www.nachi.org/ir-reports.htm

HouseLogic. (n.d.). What Is a Thermal Imaging Home Inspection?
https://www.houselogic.com

Infrared Training Center. (n.d.). Introduction to Thermography for Building Sciences. Retrieved from https://www.infraredtraining.com

Thermal Imaging for Home Inspections Explained
https://www.homegauge.com/learning/thermal-imaging-for-home-inspections-explained/

 

About Cornerstone Home Inspections:

Located in Hubertus WI, Cornerstone has been trusted by home buyers to help them make informed buying decisions. Our home inspections typically range from 2.5-3.5 hours depending on the size of the house or condo. You are invited to follow along with your inspector as they perform their inspection.

We have achieved the distinction of Certified Master Inspector as determined by the Master Inspection Certification Board. All Cornerstone Inspectors are trained to these standards and operate under a Certified Master Inspector.

Areas Served:

  1. Waukesha
  2. Menomonee Falls
  3. Germantown
  4. West Bend
  5. Hartford
  6. Pewaukee
  7. Sussex
  8. Grafton
  9. Cedarburg
  10. Oconomowoc
  11. Watertown

 

Cornerstone Home Inspections include our thermal imaging of the main electrical box to add even more value to our inspections at no additional cost. Please see our thermal imaging page for more information on what thermal imaging can do.

FULLY LICENSED & INSURED

Cornerstone follows the Wisconsin State Standards of Practice. We are fully licensed by the State of Wisconsin. State license number 2355-106.

We are fully insured, carrying both general liability as well as errors & omissions insurance, including agent and broker inspector referral coverage.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, having a professional home inspection from a leading home inspection company will give you peace of mind and assist you in a fair and smooth transaction.

 

WE OFFER A WIDE RANGE OF INSPECTION AND TESTING SERVICES INCLUDING:

  • RESIDENTIAL HOME INSPECTIONS
  • CONDO INSPECTIONS
  • PRE-LISTING INSPECTIONS
  • RADON CRM TESTING
  • DRONE SERVICE NOW INCLUDED AT NO ADDITIONAL COST!
  • ONE HOUR REPORTS
  • NEW VISUAL REPORTS
  • THERMAL IMAGING

NEW VISUAL REPORTS:
We now feature a computerized report that allows our inspectors to add pictures and comments to the report onsite. This type of report delivery allows for a more detailed explanation of the area of concern, giving you the knowledge to make an informed purchase decision. The computer report is then emailed directly to you and your realtor, saving precious time in the real estate transaction.

THERMAL IMAGING:

Cornerstone Home Inspections include our thermal imaging of the main electrical box to add even more value to our inspections at no additional cost. Please see our thermal imaging page for more information on what thermal imaging can do.

FULLY LICENSED & INSURED

Cornerstone follows the Wisconsin State Standards of Practice. We are fully licensed by the State of Wisconsin. State license number 2355-106.

We are fully insured, carrying both general liability as well as errors & omissions insurance, including agent and broker inspector referral coverage.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, having a professional home inspection from a leading home inspection company will give you peace of mind and assist you in a fair and smooth transaction.

If you have any questions regarding your house, just call and we will answer it. If we can’t answer it right away, we will find the answer for you. At Cornerstone, your total satisfaction is our number one priority.

Call us today at 262-607-CSHI to book your home inspection.


Cornerstone Home Inspection
Michael Ford
262-607-2744
Hubertus, WI 53033

mike@cornerstonehi.com
https://www.cornerstonehi.com

 

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Non rated fire door with a window.

One of the things we look for during the garage inspection with an attached garage is the fire separation wall missing between the house and garage.  In general the wall should be drywalled (5/8 inch thick) and complete with no holes or openings through it.  Any door through the firewall should be a rated (at least 20 min) fire door.  WI firewall requirements

Non rated fire door with a window. Firewall missing. Firewall missing. Attic view directly into the house with no firewall. Firewall missing.

Additional requirements are that drywall seems should be taped and mudded with no holes or gaps through the firewall.  Joints that are not taped can be no larger than 1/20 of an inch, the approximate width of a US dime.  Doors going into the house should have a fire rating sticker present indicating the fire rating in minutes the door was tested to.  Windows are not permitted.  Checking the fire separation wall missing is something we do and is included with every home inspection.  See our website for more information on scheduling an inspection.

Foundation step cracking and movement

With the housing market as competitive as it is and many people not including the an inspection contingency as part of their offer to purchase, does it still make sense to have an inspection after closing?  In a word, yes!

While it is absolutely true that the inspection done before closing it the right way to go, it is still a valuable tool after you own it.

Peace of mind is a valuable thing.  Knowing the good, the bad and the ugly about your new home allows you to make fixes if needed now, instead of 10 years from now when you go to sell.  Things like foundation wall movement, mold in the attic, electrical issues, high levels of radon do not get better over time and can be cheaper to deal with now before they become large health and safety issues later.

We are doing more and more post occupancy inspections so call today and get the peace of mind your looking for. 

Thermal Imaging hand print

No magic here, just a difference in temperature.  Thermal imaging cameras take a picture in the infrared light band which is not visible to the naked eye.  These cameras can detect the difference in radiation that a warmer object emits vs a colder object.  The hotter an object is the more radiation it puts out.  Thermal imaging cameras can detect this temperature difference (or delta T) very accurately, usually to within .1 degrees.  They then convert those temperature differences to a color code and produce a picture.  It is sensitive enough to see the difference in temperature transferred from a handprint or a glass of water.

We use the FLIR E4 thermal camera.  This technology becomes very useful for safety issues in the main electrical panel with breakers that are close to failing or are loose and arcing as in the first two examples.  It helps to point out air lock in a radiator or prove that a well pressure tank bladder is intact and the tank is not water logged.  It can verify in-floor heating is operating or insulation damage under siding that is causing heat loss and frost forming on the interior walls.  No magic here, just a difference in temperature.  All included with our inspections!

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