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The Boys Be Musing About Infrared Technology


Scottpat
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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Originally posted by kurt

Walter, divining the realities of the HI world......

There still seem to be folks that want a real one. That's what keeps me going.

Your market's big enough to cough up enough educated customers to support a good HI business. Those customers are your peer group, your demographic. They'll seek you -- and guys like you -- out.

But shrink that market down to about Nashville size, and the number of savvy customers drops considerably. For 20 years, I mined the demographic of movers, shakers, doctors, lawyers and biz- and media types. It worked great until the RE lobbyists finally had their way with the state legislators. For me, anyway, it seemed that HI work would soon be a losing proposition. And pretty soon, it was. If I wanted to keep my biz going, I would've had to go out and market to the new crop of young RE agents, who work for donuts, and who mine the crop of young HIs, who work for peanuts. Life's too short...

Anyhow, the deal has gone down in TN. I'm pretty sure my Basset hound, Rufus, could pass the HI tests. Sooner or later, though, Rufus would have to sell his doghouse to pay the deductible on his E&O. Where HI work is concerned, TN is now a poisoned wasteland.

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Walter, as with most professional writers you tend to exagarate and get a little colorful with your descriptions. I must say that I have not experienced what you are always talking about in your post, but then I have only lived in TN for about 18 months now.

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Scott,

At last year's I.W., thermal imaging was the rage. I did not attend any of the seminars but I did talk to guys who did. They said that the use of these cameras requires two people, if done correctly. I don't see this mentioned in any of the training promos. What do you know of the requirement?

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Originally posted by Eric B

Scott,

At last year's I.W., thermal imaging was the rage. I did not attend any of the seminars but I did talk to guys who did. They said that the use of these cameras requires two people, if done correctly. I don't see this mentioned in any of the training promos. What do you know of the requirement?

I don't know squat about IR, other than I just can't justify the cost of adding a camera to my tool bag. Snell(sp) from what I understand is the better way to go for training.

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My camera is due in next week. Can't wait to start playing with it. Yes, I am making payments. I had the whole bundle saved up to buy it cash before the market went in the toilet.

It looks to me that everybody and his brother is trying set up an IR certification mill.

You won't see me at any of them. I have used them before so I am already familiar with the limitations. It's not rocket science.

Can't wait til Jim K. or Kurt gets one. Yea, I know they will probably say I don't need one of those new fangled toys but I predict that half of the old farts here will have one in the next two years or sooner.

Chris, Oregon

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I compromised on the Flir Bcam SD. If I was rolling in dough I would have gone for the BX320.

For those who are planning to go full bore and promote themselves as some IR guru neither of those models would be satisfactory. You'll need something bigger and better; at least better then your competition.

Me, I plan to use it for everyday HI work just like my moisture meters. Not planning any big promotion or add on services with it.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

I compromised on the Flir Bcam SD. If I was rolling in dough I would have gone for the BX320.

For those who are planning to go full bore and promote themselves as some IR guru neither of those models would be satisfactory. You'll need something bigger and better; at least better then your competition.

Me, I plan to use it for everyday HI work just like my moisture meters. Not planning any big promotion or add on services with it.

Chris, Oregon

I take it you're not charging extra for using it then, just part of the service?

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We had a thread on IR before and in that thread my contention was that inspectors were going to be buying these things and pulling it out of thier tool bags on normal inspections. This will eventually be the standard of care that will be expected. We will be stuck having to buy a 5,000 dollar piece of equipment and still make only peanuts on the inspection because of this. It is only a matter of time now.

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Well, its probably a bit like preaching to the choir, or maybe its beating a dead horse, but here goes. . . .

Last week, I spoke with an agent who had his first encounter with an IR cam wielded shamelessly and carelessly by a newer inspector.

The guy found some "spots" in one wall.

Last I heard, the buyers walked, and the listing agent was on the phone with the inspector asking what in the hell she's supposed to have her sellers do about spots on the wall.

The buyer's agent is also a bit incensed and scratching his head trying to figure what was wrong with the house.

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There's a guy around here who has one (local owner a franchise known for IR). I hear he goes around telling realtors he can "see inside the walls". To me that very much implies something on the order of X-ray vision, which IR is definitely not. It has uses, there's no question about it, but it also has limitations and can never, ever replace a sharp, well-trained mind and a pair of eyes.

I expect to have one of these within a few of years, but I won't be making claims like that when I do. Right now I'm thinking I'll use it for certain things on every inspection, and just raise my base prices to cover it. Things may change later.

Brian G.

It Is What It Is, It Ain't What It Ain't [:-magnify

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I will eventually purchase IR but only to use it as I use other tools.

We have a franchise guy in this area who does more book writing, radio shows, and speaking at realtor events than he does home inspections but he says " that an IR camera in the hands of an ASHI member will reduce the realtors liability". The trend by the franchise types around here is now to offer packaged inspections. Do you want me to use all my skills to evaluate your home or just some of them?

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I read this article yesterday. It, along with many others I have read in the past year, exemplifies the amount of smoke that is being blown by the manufacturers of thermal imaging equipment:

http://www.insidebayarea.com/travel/ci_8086048

Note if you will that the person using the camera supposedly located either termites or rats. As it turns out the only rat was the inept camera operator and the only termites the insurance company eating away at this home owner's wallet.

But heh, even though they didn't find a damned thing but the lady's footprints in the shower, many tech-hungry homeowners (and inspectors) will swallow this hook, line and sinker.

I've done a couple of EIFS inspections recently behind "Thermographers" (j-e-e-z, what a handle) and have proven that either the operators or the equipment were defective. I say both.

Well-blown smoke may be what sells, but some of us draw the line at selling "fountain pens that write under whipped cream" (for you 3-Stooges fans).

Aaron[:-bigeyes

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Now that he's got the IR cam, he'd better raise his prices or I'll have to go down there and break his legs.

Uh-oh[:-sour] gulp! We have to talk - I'll listen.

The guy found some "spots" in one wall.

I have been interviewing agents that I work with in my area concerning IR. Most have not worked with any inspector using the equipment. One agent in particular did. She said at first it was fascinating and started singing the praises of a particular inspector who happened to be a home safe franchise. But then an occasion came up where the inspector with the IR system wasn't availible for a reinspect so she called in another HI on her top 3 list. The other inspector, a 6 year 3000 inspections - so he claims, found a bunch of dry rot that the guy with the IR cam missed. After that she quit using the guy with the IR cam and went with the guy she felt was performing a better inspection.

We have all heard rumors of HI's making unsubstantiated claims using IR camera's. I have to imagine these same guys are prone to making unsubstantiated claims about other things as well and are part of the bottom 1/3rd of HI's that shouldn't be in the business.

My questions:

What if any things will the camera indicate that I couldn't identify normally on my own visually?

Will the use of the camera increase my skill at spotting problems visually?

How much time will I burn trying to investigate anomalies indicated at an inspection?

If I start coming to new conclusions about insulation and weatherization how will I share that information in an inspection?

How can active thermography be employed to better indicate suspected issues in a normal inspection?

Chris, Oregon

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Hi All,

I think it's a tool - not a magic wand; if you have the training, but not the experience, you can probably make some pretty horrific mistakes using this piece of equipment. Chris' example of the guy missing the rot shows that the guy was probably trained how to use the camera but he'd never learned how to look for rot properly. It's like a primary school student wearing a stethoscope versus a doctor wearing a stethoscope. One thinks he knows what he's hearing versus the other who, through more training and particularly experience, does know.

This is kind of like doctors with X-rays. A medical student looks at the X-rays and imagines all sorts of stuff, or misses stuff; while the experienced doctor knows when a particular shade and shape is nothing to be concerned about or is an issue. When we see those x-rays, we haven't a clue. Meanwhile, the x-ray technician, the guy who sees the films every single day, all day, and who sees the diagnoses made by experienced doctors, becomes more proficient than either and it's the X-ray technicians that end up teaching the medical students and doctors what to look for and what the images mean.

I'm toying with the idea of making this leap, but my concern right now is that perhaps the folks teaching this stuff are more like the novice doctor, rather than the experienced doctor or X-ray technician, and should they really be teaching it? Shouldn't there be established minimum standards for training and experience with these devices before folks can teach it?

I know FLIR has been teaching it for decades - I remember reading about their training back when I was in the military when they used forward looking infrared radar (FLIR) for target acquisition and for search and rescue - so I'm reasonably confident they know what they're doing, but what about these other manufacturers and the plethora of trainers popping up everywhere? Has it really been around long enough that home inspectors will have had enough experience to be teaching it competently, or does this have the same potential for abuse that all of the mold training programs had 8 -9 years ago?

Before it gets too out of hand, should the manufacturers put their heads together and come up with consistent criteria re. experience and education for folks teaching others how to use this equipment, so the rest of us can be reasonably assured that the training given at these courses is all on the same level?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Before it gets too out of hand, should the manufacturers put their heads together and come up with consistent criteria re. experience and education for folks teaching others how to use this equipment, so the rest of us can be reasonably assured that the training given at these courses is all on the same level?

I am sure at Flir as well as at other mfg.s there are a few engineers who are shaking their heads in disgust at the mis-promotion and use of the technology - but the sales departments are all over this thing like a hot potato trying to push it into the hands of every dumbass HI that can afford to buy it.

I trust that the old farts here who aquire the equipment will school us in its proper application as they do with everything else.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by aaronm

I've done a couple of EIFS inspections recently behind "Thermographers" (j-e-e-z, what a handle) and have proven that either the operators or the equipment were defective. I say both.

Well-blown smoke may be what sells, but some of us draw the line at selling "fountain pens that write under whipped cream" (for you 3-Stooges fans).

Aaron[:-bigeyes

My sentiments exactly.

Paul B.

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Originally posted by txinspection

Originally posted by Scottpat

I don't know squat about IR...

Thanks for the confession and also for linking to my site. We are

having a wonderful class today at inspectorsjournal.com/forum/LinkPolicy.asp.

I would not really call this a confession, I'm just telling the truth.

Would you care to tell the folks on this thread what type of training and you have completed in order to open a training school?

How does your training compare to Snell or FLIR training?

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Originally posted by txinspection

Originally posted by Scottpat

I don't know squat about IR...

Thanks for the confession and also for linking to my site. We are

having a wonderful class today at inspectorsjournal.com/forum/LinkPolicy.asp.

John:

Speaking of links, here is one that you might find informative: CONSUMERS UNION NO COMMERCIAL USE POLICY

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Perhaps the inspector who missed the decayed wood did so because he was sidetracked by the camera - he lost sight of his main mission. I think that an inspector's most valuable tools are his eyes, ears and nose. He starts putting too much attention into gizmos and he starts missing stuff, expensive stuff. I think that some of the equipment available to us is useful. And, as already mentioned, not only do we need to understand how to use it, but we also need to recognize when it's diverting our attention.

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Now that he's got the IR cam, he'd better raise his prices or I'll have to go down there and break his legs.

Uh-oh[:-sour] gulp! We have to talk - I'll listen.

Don't worry, Chris, I'll never lay a hand on you. (I'll be sure to be in Mexico when it happens.)

I have been interviewing agents that I work with in my area concerning IR. Most have not worked with any inspector using the equipment. One agent in particular did. She said at first it was fascinating and started singing the praises of a particular inspector who happened to be a home safe franchise. But then an occasion came up where the inspector with the IR system wasn't availible for a reinspect so she called in another HI on her top 3 list. The other inspector, a 6 year 3000 inspections - so he claims, found a bunch of dry rot that the guy with the IR cam missed. After that she quit using the guy with the IR cam and went with the guy she felt was performing a better inspection.

I think that I also followed that same Homesafe guy. He missed about $30,000 worth of dry rot. It was very old damage and it was concealed. I wouldn't have expected it to show up on an IR scan. Still, he looked foolish because he sold his service as being able to "see through walls." It's all about expectations.

We have all heard rumors of HI's making unsubstantiated claims using IR camera's. I have to imagine these same guys are prone to making unsubstantiated claims about other things as well and are part of the bottom 1/3rd of HI's that shouldn't be in the business.

My questions:

What if any things will the camera indicate that I couldn't identify normally on my own visually?

Heat.

Will the use of the camera increase my skill at spotting problems visually?

I doubt it. But time will tell.

How much time will I burn trying to investigate anomalies indicated at an inspection?

Probably a bunch. I'm going to bet that you'll be finding all kinds of anomalies every time you turn the sucker on.

If I start coming to new conclusions about insulation and weatherization how will I share that information in an inspection?

You probably won't have any choice other than to include a picture of the IR scan in your report and write a paragraph that explains it and that uses lots of words like "might," "could," "maybe," and "unknown."

How can active thermography be employed to better indicate suspected issues in a normal inspection?

I doubt that it will "better indicate suspected issues." It's more likely to create suspected issues.

-Jim Katen, Oregon

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Ok, I have received the camera. I turned it on and but couldn't see anything really... oh, it's got a lens cap - duh. Initially scanned around the room and saw blurry blobs (mind you I got an audience of other excited people wanting to see a demonstration). We all kind of went, "huh". So, I turned it off and starting reading the manual while charging up the battery. About an hour later when the battery was charged and I had learned what the buttons did I tried it out again. After I figured out how to focus the thing and tune it, I played around for about an hour looking at all the air leaks and insulation installation defects and cool as crap I could see every spill in the carpet that my 2 year old had made that day even though you couldn't visually see them. My conclusion after that was - Wow! This thing is cool! I am going to like it.

I was scanning my downstairs and noticed there was one joist bay in the ceiling that was warm with hot spots and I am thinking now what the hell is going on here? I couldn't see anything visually. I even got up on a chair and touched the ceiling and still couldn't figure it out until it dawned on me that the clothes dryer was running and that was where the duct ran thru. I could see a few locations where the duct was probably leaking. Pretty cool, this thing.

I have already taken the free online course offered by Flir and look forward to taking it out into the field.

Chris, Oregon

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Shhhh, Quiet!

Please, don't even think about a convertible BMW!!! Those brain emissions are liable to reach my wife, who hasn't stopped dreaming about one since she first saw one back in 1980 after coming to the states. Every once in a while she'll start up on the subject again and I have all I can do to change the subject and get out of the room. [:-scared] [:-shake]

I beg you, have mercy. [:-cry]

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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