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Calling All Thermographers


Jim Katen
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Originally posted by Jim Katen

I have a question for those of you who have taken IR training.

What specific and useful information did you learn during the training that you would not have learned by yourself after a short period of experimenting with the camera?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Pardon me for jumping in before the answers start rolling in, but I just have to say: I put in 20 years in the HI biz, and I never took a class in anything.

Staying away from HI "instruction" did me no harm, and saved me piles of money, time and aggravation.

WJ

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What specific and useful information did you learn during the training that you would not have learned by yourself after a short period of experimenting with the camera?

I would also add - and was not already included in the manual that came with the camera.

I have been amazed to find that there is more concise and useful info in Flir's manual that came with the camera then anything that I have yet to find on the internet.

Chris, Oregon

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I haven't been doing this long but it seems to me that the technology may be rocket science but interpreting the pics isn't.

I am considering level I for liability and credential reasons. It is expensive and probably a bunch of stuff I really don't need to know.

If you consider that anything found has to be verified by other means anyway, its not that critical if you think the cold/hot spot is missing insulation or a water leak.

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

What specific and useful information did you learn during the training that you would not have learned by yourself after a short period of experimenting with the camera?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Very little Jim. I did take an inexpensive online course that was supposed to be geared for HI's, but it was minimally helpful. I think the problem with IR training is that it is so new to our industry, the curriculum has not yet been tailored to our needs.

I have not yet been convinced that I need to be Level 1 Thermographer or greater, to use IR as a Home Inspector.

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www.IRtalk.com is one, you can also E mail Gary Orlove at Flir (gary.orlove@flir.com) there is a newsletter that has alot of good information on it. I also do alot of google searches and go to the library. I also talk to the folks who perform cleanup when homes flood, many use thermal cameras to ensure the place is dry.

Hope this helps.

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Chris,

You found the Flir manual helpful? Which one? The print version that came with my b40 is useless, it shows (in 18 different languages) where all the buttons are on the camera. The PDF version was so poorly translated into english that the format runs you around in circles. The best way I found to use the manual was to sit in front of my laptop with the PDF open while I fiddled with the camera, if I needed a definition of a specific function I could look it up while I watched it play out on the camera. Without the camera in my hand, I might as well have been reading it in Danish.

I don't think that I will be attending any of Flir's training unless my employer picks up the tab, courses start around $1800. There are some free seminars on their website I may use if I really get stuck.

Tom

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I took a 1 day class (Flir) before I purchased the camera. My main objective was to learn about interpretation of what I was seeing. They covered a lot of the techinical stuff on hows, whys, etc., but, I haven't had any reason to refer to that since - nearly 2 years.

As was said earlier, Just about everything is in the manual.

Bottom line - verify, verify, verify.

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You found the Flir manual helpful? Which one?

User's manual for the BCAM/BCAM SD

In the back half of the manual it has a chapter called Introduction to building thermography id="blue"> which is 34 pages of info, diagrams and pics.

I have mined the several IR forums but have never found anything useful that's isn't touched on in the manual or that I didn't know already from working as an HI.

The IR manufacturers are trying to sell these things to the much larger non-HI market and where the cert training may mean something or even be required.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

I have a question for those of you who have taken IR training.

What specific and useful information did you learn during the training that you would not have learned by yourself after a short period of experimenting with the camera?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

Jim,

When I first started using Infrared in my Home Inspection Business, I played around with the camera for about 4 months before I took any official training and started to incorporate the use in my service offerings.

Let me say that this is not a point-n-shoot technology. There are many well educated and trained Inspectors among our ranks, but an in depth knowledge of basic IR Theory like heat transfer, Emittance, Reflectance, and Transmittance play a vital role in being successful.

I would recommend at the very minimum a Level I Certification course for anyone that is interested in getting into Thermography.

Hope this helps...

Kevin

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Originally posted by RichNSpect

Jim,

When I first started using Infrared in my Home Inspection Business, I played around with the camera for about 4 months before I took any official training and started to incorporate the use in my service offerings.

Let me say that this is not a point-n-shoot technology. There are many well educated and trained Inspectors among our ranks, but an in depth knowledge of basic IR Theory like heat transfer, Emittance, Reflectance, and Transmittance play a vital role in being successful.

I would recommend at the very minimum a Level I Certification course for anyone that is interested in getting into Thermography.

Hope this helps...

Kevin

Thanks Kevin.

Here's the thing: For about 3 years now, I've been talking with people who're using IR in their inspection businesses. When we talk about training in a general way, most of them use words like vital, mandatory, essential, required, indispensible, etc. However, when we talk about specifics such as, "What specific and useful information did you learn during the training that you would not have learned by yourself after a short period of experimenting with the camera?" they pretty much all say, "Um, nothing." Then they go on to say that the training is really useful and valuable and that they like having the certification because it will reduce their liability.

If this training were convenient and reasonably priced, I wouldn't even bother questioning it. People keep saying that the cost is only $1,700. But the training fee, travel cost, hotel cost and lost inspection time would total about $5,000 for me. That's a significant investment. Before I plunk down 5 large on training, I want some assurance that I'll receive a decent return on that investment.

So far, and forgive me if I'm interpreting this wrong, a Level I thermography course seems to be 4 days of kindergarden physics. I'm not saying that's a bad thing. In fact, it's probably necessary to ensure that everyone starts out at a baseline competency level. I'm just saying that, at $5,000, I'm unlikely to see a return on that investment. (I guess that's a polite way of saying that the course seems to be a waste of money. )

If I'm wrong about this, I really want to know.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Jim,

Have been following this thread with interest. I often need a thermographer for various project or legal files. The operators that I have been exposed to are mostly "cowboys", so we have looked at investing in the tools and training. What I have experienced is a whole bunch of folks that do have the basic physics but don't know squat about buildings. Every presentation is fun and seems to make the operator into a genius.

No matter how we figger it, we can not justify the costs. We could likely make a little profit if we incorporated in into a deluxe type inspection. I have done quite well with this company by doing only one kind and level of inspection and am reluctant to change that.

We have stand alone companies that do pest, radon, restoration, and IW work, so we are not the usual inspector business model. Thermography would have to be an independant company and focus on energy, etc and not be included in a normal home inspection.

As of this writing, I do not think it is a good business move for most inspectors. As business gets even more slow, I think we will be seeing many "inspectors" offering the service.

Please understand that I have lived through lots of technology in this business and am not hesitant to incorporate the new stuff, if it makes sense.

I can imagine you, Kurt, Scott, Chris, Randy, Mark, etc, maybe Frank having this tool and doing some business. I can not imagine most inspectors being able to effectively use it.

Just my opinion.

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The Infrared has made me some money but it has saved me a lot more in the 6 months I've had it. Lawyers around here love to throw everyone involved in one pot and separate later. I feel that the Infrared camera has prevented that pot from being created a few times.

Just the other week I came across a house somebody was flipping. They replaced the living room window with a smaller window. The Infrared camera indicated lack of or no insulation installed. When they put a small hole in the wall, it was discovered that no insulation was installed. The same thing was noticed at two other windows. Not only did I provide great information to my client during the home inspection, it also prevented me getting involved in a potential lawsuit if she did buy the house.

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To respond to your question, classes are important but I would look at taking cheaper ones. A Level I Certification is not required or impressive to have.

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This is my first year using an IR camera and this spring/summer when temps were moderate, camera use was pretty much uneventful except for the occasional, "Hey, What's that thing you got?", from the client or realtor.

You need a pretty good temperature differential of at least 15 degrees, the more the better. Now, that temps have dropped I'm seeing a lot more, again.

I bought a TESTO humidity stick and have used it a few times so far setting the dewpoint alarm on the camera to no avail. My conclusion is that sorption in the roof decking must really only occur when things get really cold. I look forward to using the dewpoint and insulation alarms more this winter.

To get good descrimination you need big temp differentials which is something that you're not going to have time to get setup in a normal home inspection. During the winter they are lot easier to just walk into.

And all those commercial pics you see depend on scanning under the right conditions at the right time of day.

I don't know for sure how the commercial guys are using them but I imagine what would be useful would be streaming out of the camera and recording and monitor a building rather than just trying get the right conditions for a still shot.

Chris, Oregon

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