Rich Roshak No Comments

What does a thermography inspection reveal?

Infrared thermography inspections reveal condensation and poorly sealed or leaking HVAC ductwork.

Air leakage in forced air duct systems is now recognized as a major source of energy waste in both new and existing houses. Studies indicate ductwork air leakage can account for as much as 25% of total house energy loss and can prevent heating and cooling systems from operating properly, resulting in uneven heating and cooling of rooms.

Air leakage into wall cavities and ceilings, because of poorly sealed or installed ductwork register boots, ranks at the top of the list, due to the volume of air which leaks during operation of the heating and cooling systems. These leaks can heat or cool entire wall cavities and is the largest contributor to condensation. Most if not all these register boots are un-insulated or sealed at the drywall/boot junction.

extensive air leakage between ceiling and insulation in the attic space in this one year old home

Extensive air leakage between ceiling and insulation in the attic of a year-old home

 

Air leaks can also cause condensation resulting in mold/mildew growth.

Condensation may be identified through basic visual inspection if it has led to obvious defects, such as staining or mold growth. However, by the time visible evidence has presented itself, significant damage may have already been done. In many cases, condensation may have been developing for a while before obvious signs become apparent.

By employing thermal imaging and a moisture meter, inspectors can locate condensation issues before they become large problems and lead to serious damage. While an infrared camera does not specifically detect moisture itself, it does detect differences in temperature. When a material becomes wet and saturated with water, its temperature will be cooler than the surrounding areas because water takes longer to warm up than, wood or drywall. In order to verify what the IR camera is seeing; I use a moisture meter to verify the present of moisture.

Rich Roshak No Comments

Infrared thermography, recessed light fixtures and energy loss

Recessed lights have traditionally been costly contributors to heat loss. These fixtures allow conditioned air to leak into unconditioned spaces, such as attic spaces. The large rough openings needed to install recessed cans, the numerous perforations in the housing assemblies and trims, and the fact that manufacturers require a minimum 3″ gap between insulation and fixture made them extremely susceptible to air leakage. This air leakage increases substantially when the light bulb heats the air in the light fixture causing a chimney effect. Enough air leakage over a period can cause moisture problems and possible mold growth.

Sometime around 2002 all recessed light fixtures were required to have thermal protectors (these fixtures are called Insulation Contact). However, these fixtures were still manufactured with holes and perforations resulting in air leakage.

The image indicates bright areas around light fixtures are due to missing insulation and air leakage.

To address air leakage the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), as of 2009, required that any recessed-can fixture installed in an insulated ceiling/attic must meet the air tightness standards and be labeled for insulation contact. The most recent requirements state recessed light fixtures installed in the building thermal envelope/attic space shall be airtight, IC rated, and sealed to the drywall.

By employing thermal imaging, we can determine the extent of energy loss around recessed light fixtures. Thermal imaging can also determine if moisture is present due to condensation.