You may have seen a similar piece on this topic, written in general, for many types of inspections. Now we want to focus in on Buildings in particular, and discuss what items aside from your IR imager that might be beneficial to have handy. These are in no specific order since they’re all equally important in ensuring that you’re covering all your bases.
- Moisture probe: Your imager doesn’t detect moisture per se, it senses the difference in surface temperature that the presence of moisture could cause. The standards around building inspections specify that suspected moisture be verified by other means. A moisture probe is what you use to do that. There are two basic types; destructive (pin type) and search mode (pin-less). Pin type probes measure electrical resistance in the material, which will be lower with moisture present. Search mode types emit a low strength signal, sometimes in radio waves, that reflects off moisture differently than it does from dry material. There are some surfaces where you wouldn’t want to use the pin type, and in those instances, the search mode type can be utilized.
- High-quality flashlight: At first this doesn’t seem like it’s worthy of inclusion but wait until you really need one. You can find flashlights just about anywhere, but you want to invest in one that gives off a high amount of usable light, is sturdy enough to survive being dropped from a ladder to concrete and is portable enough to stick in your pocket. During any building inspection or any other kind of inspection for that matter, you’ll discover many opportunities for a good light. Get one.
- Anemometer: There are varying levels of functionality in these products, but the basic ones give air temperature and air movement velocity. For the difference in price, it might be worthwhile to consider an upper-end model. These can calculate dew point temperature among other measurements. All these values are imperative to know when performing a building inspection. There are limits to the amount of allowable air movement for a successful inspection and knowing the dew point can help identify where condensation may form.
- Blower door: A blower door might not be considered a “must have” by some people, but if you are following ASTM E1186 or other building inspection standards it’s a must. A blower door can control the direction and the amount of air flow within a frame structure. This makes performance testing of insulation possible and also supports the location of air leakage sites in building envelopes and air barrier systems. It also allows buildings with a specified allowable air movement value to be tested for actual function. The added benefit of utilizing a blower door is the enhancement of the natural infiltration and exfiltration within a building. If you’ve got the budget, I’d sure get one.
- Smoke pencil: These are incredibly valuable given their low price point. They produce what’s more accurately described as a fog and produces it at ambient air temperature. The density of the fog produced can be controlled by the user. This handy little tool allows you to watch air move inside of a building. They’re especially valuable when the velocity of air movement is low because you can watch the fog move along the air currents inside of the structure. They’re commonly under $100, and I’ve seen some even below $50.
Obviously, there are other items that you might find to be as useful as these, or even more useful. Share those with us if you’d like. These are a good start, I think. Go do good work, and remember to Think Thermally®.