That spot on the ceiling looked fine. There was no discoloration, no peeling paint, nothing that would tip you off to what was going on underneath the plaster.
Renee Harris, senior risk consultant at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company, was completing an onsite inspection at a client’s home and didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary on the ceiling. But she was recently trained as a certified thermographer and was using this infrared technology to scan the client’s home for hidden vulnerabilities. Armed with her FLIR-brand infrared camera, she pointed it at the ceiling just to be sure everything was as it seemed.
There it was on the camera screen: deep purple in a sea of orange. This meant that this particular part of the ceiling was considerably cooler than the rest of the surface. Such a temperature drop usually indicates water. Renee remembered that on the floor above, directly overhead, there was a refrigerator/ice maker.
The Doubting Contractor
“After the inspection with the infrared camera, the homeowner asked the contractor to look at the ice maker,” Renee recounted. “The contractor told him he didn’t think they were going to find anything. The homeowner asked him to look anyway and that is when they found the cracked part that caused the dripping water. They replaced the part and set up a dehumidifier to dry out the area.”
It was estimated that a loss of $20,000 was avoided and it also saved the client a claim on his record. “That standing water could have affected the ceiling below, the adjoining walls, crown moldings and flooring,” Renee said. “There could have been mold issues from the sitting water. All this was avoided because of the infrared camera.”
The Additional Advantages
The cameras detect temperature change, so there is no chance of false positives or negatives. This means the data can be trusted and can help prevent collapsed ceilings, rotting woodwork or electrical fires – all without demolition. Though it’s not exactly the same as having x-ray vision, a thermal imaging camera can see things we can’t. Uncovering situations that could turn into problems down the line makes thermal camera inspections a must for unique, custom, historic and fine homes.