Poor Man’s Infrared Camera

I got a very unique Christmas gift this year: my brother did an energy performance inspection on my house. He had some new equipment and techniques to get accustomed to, and even called a local acquaintance so they could share recent training with each other. One piece of equipment that both have recently acquired is an infrared (thermal) camera. This camera shows relative heat changes, which is useful for finding areas of heat loss, such as where insulation is inadequate.

When I was searching for a house to buy, I took lots of pictures of each house I was interested in. Before putting in an offer on a house, I made those pictures available to my brother, as he’s able to pick out major issues that way. He taught me what to look for, what pictures to take, etc. These pictures were very different from the images other family members were interested in. Most people want to see room size, layout, and flooring. Not my brother. He looks for things that need to be repaired. Did I mention that my brother is an excellent personal resource?

I ended up using what the pros in the industry jokingly call the poor man’s infrared camera: snow! One house we looked at was built around 1980 and used fiberglass blanket insulation. Sure enough, I could see where the insulation has slipped along a significant portion of the roof line. Now that I have a house and have been working in the attic, moving around insulation, I try to look at my roof every time it snows to monitor any insulation problems. Next time you have snow on your roof, take a look! It just might be an early warning for you.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Oddly enough, my friend left a blog on this same topic today over at Energy Vanguard. See his post on the Poor Man’s Infrared

    http://www.energyvanguard.com/blog-building-science-HERS-BPI/bid/34866/Snow-on-the-Roof-The-Poor-Man-s-Infrared-Camera?source=Blog_Email_%5BSnow+on+the+Roof+-+T%5D

    Reply

  2. It is a general rule of thumb but not necessarily something you could for sure base conclusions on? Does the roof get lots of sunlight. Is the roof a dark color that will attract heat? It is fun to look at though.

    Reply

    • Posted by kermode on 2011/01/06 at 16:27

      Thanks for your comment, Travis! You’re right, it’s not an absolute. I look at comparisons. Nearby houses are usually about the same age (and likely similar insulation), built by the same or comparable builder, using the same type of roof tiles, etc. And of course one can only compare sides of roofs that face the same direction. General rule of thumb it is!

      Reply

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