Infrared Red Scanning....


.....for the home. Is it worth it?
I repaired a loose connection in an outlet on an exterior wall. Upon doing so, I noticed a draft of cold air from under the outlet. Therefore, I temporarily plugged it. Directly under the that area in the basement above my drop ceiling panels, also on the exterior wall, is another draft which appears to be coming from the side door area. Two summers past, I used expand foam and caulk along the entire side of the house and filled in some questionable areas around the door with cement (threshold area), hoping I might conquer this draft. Nope, nothing doing and it's aggravating. Therefore, the infrared red scanning idea comes to mind. I need to find this leak, along with other reasons why part of my house is colder than the rest.
Inputs?
Thanks
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SBH wrote:

A cheaper way MIGHT be to obtain a remote-sensing thermometer. You point it at something and it displays the temperature.
Harbor Freight has a couple of models from $9.95.
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I have one of those. The problem I encounter is pinpointing the exact location. I can point to a corner on wall, an outlet or wall switch which has a draft, but it doesn't pinpoint the exact location of origin. I'm a person who likes to fix the problem correctly at the onset.
I am unable to pinpoint this particular draft and it's driving me insane.

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Have you tried looking from the outside?
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Have you tried looking from the outside?
As I stated, I caulked, sprayed expand foam and used cement in all suspected areas along that exterior wall as well as the entire home.
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On 12/28/2010 8:23 PM, SBH wrote:

The HVAC supply houses sell little smoke bombs for detecting leaks in air handling systems. You may be able to buy some but notify the fire department if you are going to use any. Go to where you suspect the air could be coming from and set one off.
TDD
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SBH wrote the following:

The Ryobi unit I have has a laser light to aim at the location.
--

Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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wrote:

My first unit has that laser aimer too - but the area beingmeasured is a whole lot bigger than the laser spot!!!
I use it for automotive and machine work, checking temperatures.
Just got a Black and Decker "thermal leak detector" for Christmas from my oldest daughter. You "calibrate " it to wall temperature and set the switch to the allowable temperature gradient -1, 5, or 10 degrees F. It shows a freen spot on the wall within that range, and red or blue if warmer or colder. Makes a quick sweep pretty painless. Canadian Tire had them on sale just before Christmas for something like $35. A few weeks earlier they were on for $50. Regular price is $100 ($99.95)
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.....for the home. Is it worth it?
I repaired a loose connection in an outlet on an exterior wall. Upon doing so, I noticed a draft of cold air from under the outlet. Therefore, I temporarily plugged it. Directly under the that area in the basement above my drop ceiling panels, also on the exterior wall, is another draft which appears to be coming from the side door area. Two summers past, I used expand foam and caulk along the entire side of the house and filled in some questionable areas around the door with cement (threshold area), hoping I might conquer this draft. Nope, nothing doing and it's aggravating. Therefore, the infrared red scanning idea comes to mind. I need to find this leak, along with other reasons why part of my house is colder than the rest.
Inputs?
Thanks *********************************************************************************
Many utility companies have energy saving programs that do that sort of thing at low cost. The way you describe the drafts, it may easily pay for itself in a short time.
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How much would it cost to scan? I believe you can rent one online, or buy one for US$1600.
Or try using smoke? Use an incense or something similar. If there's a draft, it should be easily detected. Another idea is to create a negative pressure in the house (e.g. by turning on a strong exhaust fan or window fan). This would make the draft stronger and easier to detect
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Harbor Freight has a $19.99 and a $25.99 unit (coupon for this one). I got one a week ago, only thing I don't like is the laser pointer points below the hot spot, but as long as I remember that, it has been fine.
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On 12/28/2010 6:28 PM, SBH wrote:

Take a look at the EXTECH i5 Compact Infrared Thermal Imaging Camera:
http://www.extech.com/cameras/product.asp?prodidI2
The unit is sold by the HVAC supply outfit Johnstone Supply Company. Their price is $1,595.00 but you could give them a call if there is a branch in your area and ask them if they have sold one to a local HVAC contractor and if they would be willing to give you the name of the contractor because you would like to have a survey done. Perhaps someone at Johnstone could also do it for you and use your case as a demonstration for some of their customers?
TDD
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I had a blower door test done, my hvac co did it free as part of my new install. Blower door tests are cheaper to hire out and show air infiltration as the tech goes around with a Smoke Stick, and pinpoints leaks for you. I found areas I never imagined and sealed them. A IR Thermal photo will only show areas with poor insulation, not air comming in. Best would be to hire a pro to do an energy audit and both tests. Buy you could do an air infiltration test yourself with a strong fan sealed in a window or door, and a smoke stick you get at hvac supply stores, or something like a Punk thats used to light fireworks. A pro doing the blower door test will give you a printout of what your homes air exchanges per day are, what they should be and how to improve your problem. Its worth the 3-500 a test should cost.
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IR photo could indirectly show air coming in if there is a temperature difference between outside air and indoor air. When cold air rushes in through gaps, it cools the area around the gap, which shows up as streaks in the IR scan. You can combine blower door, IR, and smoke all in one test.
BTW, a cold draft does not necessarily have to come through a gap. If you have a spot with weak insulation, the air becomes cold there, and creates a convection which you may feel as a draft. This is what I feel whenever I am near a window.
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Saw this AM that Lowe's and Home Depot rent the infra-red cameras.
Jimmie
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wrote:

Saw this AM that Lowe's and Home Depot rent the infra-red cameras.
Jimmie
Yes, no, absolutely, maybe, and I don't have a clue.
It all depends on what your skill levels are, and how well you want to fix it.
Example: You may see heat escaping from some opening. As you stated, just stuff it full of insulation, right? No. What if it's coming from a broken taping of a duct? Or some opening that will just keep letting air in or out? It's not as easy as just renting a camera, and plugging holes. You want to find the root causes, and that takes time, expertise, and in some cases, money.
Enter, the professional. Some of the companies that will come out and do an analysis are like car repair shops. No matter if you just need front shocks, they will give you an estimate that includes tie rod ends, springs, ball joints, and on and on and on.
For the cost of just renting one of the units, WHAT I WOULD DO, is FIRST, get access ready to all areas so I can have the least time on the rental. Then rent one, and see if there are any very obvious things that are broken, loose, torn, or just leaking.
Remember that you do not want to make your house air tight, as that will cause condensation and mold or heat build up in the summer.
If there are some simple things that you can do, do them yourself. If it gets complicated, get SEVERAL bids, BUT DO NOT TELL ANY OF THEM THAT YOU HAD ANOTHER COMPANY OUT, OR WHAT THEY PROPOSED TO DO OR PRICES. Sometimes, they will tell you what's wrong, and after they leave, you can fix it for less.
If you have a soffit vent that's spewing warm air, it means you have something putting positive warm pressure into your attic, like a loose duct. It doesn't mean you have to seal all soffit vents and make your attic sweat. You need to find and fix the root cause.
I'd rent it again this summer, and see if you have any places where cold air is coming out of your AC system, as they may be isolated in some part, and you would want to find out those, too.
Then caulk, insulate, flash, etc.
Let us know what you find, and a story about it so we may learn something from your experiences.
Steve
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One thing is certain, I won't need to worry about the duct system as I don't have a forced air system. My heating system is radiant/boiler system.
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