Professionals Command Professional Fees and Use Professional Equipment
Anything else is just acting the part... and 'pretending' isn't good for your pocket book!
Ohio legislature recently passed, and the Governor signed into law the Ohio Home Inspector Licensing Act under Ohio Revised Code Section 4764.02 effective April 5, 2019. Like most new licensing laws, a brief "grandfathering" period is allowed for persons currently conducting home inspections in the state of Ohio so long as they meet a small portion of a brief list of very basic requirements prior to the new law effective date, and passing a background check. Most real estate agents I have met or communicated with have expressed their gratification with the new law often saying "it's been long overdue". While I have acquired the new license with an abundance of the minimal requirements, many other "inspectors" with barely the minimum requirements and who were the primary reason this law was so enthusiastically embraced have also been granted a license. To be grandfathered, one merely needed to prove the following:
- They have "operated" an inspection business for 3 years prior to the effective date.
- They have performed 5 (yes FIVE) inspections meeting standards of practice of a national home inspection association.
- They have completed 1 (yes ONE) "peer review session" from a national home inspector association or organization one year prior to the effective date.
- Prove they have general liability insurance.
- Pass a criminal background check.
The Professional Choice
- High performance 320x240 resolution detector with SuperResolution (640x480) capability in software
- NETD (thermal sensitivity) standard resolution of 0.05°C (50mK) can be filtered 40mK for even greater thermal sensitivity
- Temperature Range -20°C to +850°C (-4°F to +1562° F)
- Measurement accuracy of ± 2°C or 2% (at 25 °C nominal, whichever is greater)
- State of the art post-image processing and data analysis with multiple color palette choices.
- On-screen (field adjustable) emissivity, reflected background temperature, and transmission correction.
Why This Matters
Some inspectors claim to perform a comprehensive inspection, but are only equipped with common and inexpensive tools and test instruments. Many providers and individual inspectors unfortunately choose to enter this profession as cheaply as possible with little to no training, and grossly inadequate equipment. A person claiming to be a framing contractor, but equipped with only a small tack hammer would be called incompetent at best. BUT, at least they can claim they have a "hammer"... a bare minimum guideline for the job description!
The choice of proper and adequate equipment is important in the building inspection field such as home inspections and commercial building inspections. This is a general inspection field that encompasses several application specific topics requiring a professional grade equipment and knowledge to embrace them all. These specific applications include building envelope analysis, moisture and leak detection, electrical inspections, pests and vermin detection, HVAC system inspection, air leakage detection, insulation analysis, and much more!
Choosing the correct equipment for the job at hand requires education and understanding of equipment specifications for the intended application. Professional equipment and training requires a significant monetary and time investment.
Infrared technology continues to improve and change; however, not all thermal imaging cameras are created equal. As technology advances, equipment costs have come down. Consumer demand has created an enticing market for low-end, consumer-grade infrared cameras which have attracted many more inspectors to jump on the thermal imaging 'band wagon'. One of the more popular consumer-grade cameras is the FLIR brand C2 camera. It's a neat device, and completely affordable to the average consumer at a cost between $400.00 and $700.00, but far from adequate for professional use in residential and commercial inspection applications. The resolution and some of the "gimmicky" features for the C2 make this camera a horrid choice for a professional inspector as seen in the composite image below:
The image depicts the difference in image quality as well as accuracy in documenting a known concern. These were captured under less than ideal conditions with merely a 7 degree temperature difference at the surface. The bottom right shows the visible light (digital) image where clearly a stain is visible. The top two images are from the consumer-grade C2 which are unclear and entirely fail to document active moisture in the stain. The bottom left is from the equipment utilized by BC Warner Inspections. It clearly indicates (through the dark amorphous spots in the center) that the stains are indeed active.
Now admittedly, a thermal camera was not necessary to determine whether the stain was active or not. Any good inspector "should" have used a moisture meter to determine the same. But, the images clearly illustrate that low-quality equipment can miss concerns... especially if they aren't visible to the naked eye first. Worse yet, a poorly equipped inspector with little if any training or experience may inaccurately claim a problem exists when it doesn't (see below).
The above image is a screen capture from an inspector Facebook group where the infrared images depict some dark ('cold') areas in the ceiling loose fill insulation. The inspector erroneously and braggingly claims this to represent a "crappy insulation job" in the discussion that followed. Closer scrutiny reveals there to only be ~4 or less degrees difference between the dark areas and the rest (majority) of the ceiling (determined by reading the corresponding temperature scale in the image). Hardly a "crappy" insulation job, but more rather typical of loose fill fiberglass insulation application, especially when the temperature range in the image has been poorly adjusted. Something an experienced infrared thermographer would explain to the client as a non-issue. Poorly adjusted thermal images are some of the most unnecessarily alarming misinterpretations by inexperienced inspectors, followed closely by overlooked concerns that can have significant implications. Getting it right is both an art and a science requiring education, experience, and proper equipment.
Infrared inspections for commercial or residential applications are some of the most complicated applications known to the infrared industry. These applications combine the knowledge of a building inspector with the advanced science behind infrared technology. Not fully understanding either is a disastrous combination for both the client and the inspector, but the client is the one who has the most to lose.
When accuracy, quality, and experience matters, BC Warner Inspections & Thermal Imaging Services is the right choice for your inspection application. Not only is our infrared camera of professional grade and quality, but so too are all our necessary inspection equipment and tools to perform the job you are hiring a professional to do!