Home buyers rely on inspectors to catch problems before they seal the deal on their future home. If anything is missed, it could cost the buyer thousands of dollars in repairs and the inspector his credibility. That’s why Texas home inspector Craig Lemmon refuses to do the job without his FLIR T-Series infrared camera. It ensures that his inspections are thorough, and he catches problems that inspectors without an infrared camera would miss.
Craig Lemmon has owned real estate inspections of Texas for the past 17 years. In his earliest days, his essential inspection tools were his eyes, a mini temperature gun, and a flashlight. When he discovered thermal imaging cameras in 2004, he realised they could help him find problems that a flashlight alone couldn’t. He bought one and never looked back. “I will not perform an inspection without my FLIR—it’s my most-used inspection tool,” says Lemmon. He finds and prevents problems every single day using a thermal camera. Lemmon owns several kinds of thermal cameras, but his favorite is a FLIR T-Series with high resolution and sensitivity to see fine details. He estimates that only 25 to 35 per cent of home inspectors use thermal imaging, and most who do will purchase an introductory unit that barely meets RESNET (Residential Energy Standards Network) standards. In Lemmon’s experience, a high-resolution thermal camera that can measure higher temperatures is ideal for finding faults. It has helped him detect Freon leaks from HVAC systems, hot electrical wires, hot breakers in panels, insulation voids in walls, and many other problems that he never would have caught without a thermal imager. In one home inspection, Lemmon noticed two small drops of water under the bathroom sink using a FLIR T-Series thermal camera. He found that the seal on the stopper had not been installed properly and could have ruined the cabinets as well as the hardwood floors and walls in the surrounding area. Since the issue was caught during inspection, it could be repaired before there were any damages. If he had used a lower-resolution thermal camera, he likely would have missed the leak.
In another case, Lemmon found a small temperature difference on a 30-foot-high ceiling. It turned out that a fault in the roofing installation allowed moisture to leak in and could have caused a major problem if left undetected. He also discovered a cracked heat exchanger in a HVAC furnace. The home buyer negotiated a repair and saved USD 4,000. Lemmon says having a professional-level thermal imager gives him such an advantage over the competition that he can raise his rates, billing up to USD 35,000 more per year for his business. “Times have changed for inspectors. From laptops to digital cameras, wet wall detectors, and drones – this is one of those things that can put you head and shoulders above the others,” he says. Thermal imaging has served as an invaluable tool when reporting problems to customers. By showing them thermal images of issues discovered during inspection, Lemmon can provide a more accurate and detailed analysis. His camera’s Delta T feature makes it easy to show the severity of an issue.
From water temperature in a faucet to the temperature of an AC vent, Lemmon documents everything. “I feel that documentation is key, and FLIR makes this simple,” he says. “I do it for three people: the home buyer, myself, and the judge – in case anything ever goes wrong in the future.” He loves that his T-Series camera makes reporting simple. “There’s no need to process my photos in a special program,” Lemmon says. “I can simply drop the photo into my Microsoft Word document and if needed, I can analyse it in the same program. Some inspectors will create reports at the end of the day, but I can do the report on-site and am basically done before I leave the house I am inspecting.” Lemmon believes the top problem for a home inspector is having enough time to do it all. “Finding a way to make your inspection as efficient as possible while ensuring you do the best job is challenging,” he says. “My FLIR camera makes it easy to do the best inspection while making the most of my time. Whether it is the file format, features like the 1-touch level or span, or even just the speedy way it helps you build reports, the time saved is amazing. This time savings allows me to perform another inspection in my work day, or more importantly, get home to see my grandkids.”
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