Can thermal imaging find water leaks?

Thermal imaging of walls during an inspection

Finding a leak without harming your home

A cement foundation for your home makes it secure and stable, and the plumbing is placed and ran before they pour the foundation during construction. What you may not expect when your home is built, the possibility of a slab leak from the plumbing. Then when it happens, the destruction and expense of finding and repairing the leak become a homeowner’s nightmare. Until recently when a thermal inspection has become available.

There are many things that are a nightmare for homeowners, and such as roof repairs, HVAC system going out, water heater leaking, and leaking underground water pipes, aka, slab leaks. A water leak undetected in the slab can create a lot of other issues than just a leaking pipe. There is possible damage to the walls, which will work its way up to the ceiling if not found and repaired. Fortunately, new technology in plumbing has made that nightmare a little easier though with thermal inspection home.

How can you tell if a wall has water damage?

For any home or property owner, unfortunately, thermal inspection isn’t possible. This I usually available through a plumber that has a thermal inspection camera. This makes it more important for you to recognize the indications of possible water damage. Water leaks can damage the floors, walls, and left undetected, and toxic mold will grow. Water leaks will cause permanent damage to the structure.

Water damage from floods, leaking appliances, ice dams, and overflowing bathtubs are easily determined, but the water damage from leaking water pipes isn’t always noticed. Unfortunately, leaking water pipes are often difficult to detect.  The high-risk areas that you should check for water damage are: 

  • The Walls: The easiest and usually most obvious water damage signs are water stains. It is usually dark circles on the ceilings, walls and around the door and window frames. Another sign would be cracked drywall, soft and swollen areas in the wall.
  • The Floors: If there is water damage to the floor, left unrepaired, it will seep into the subflooring, causing more damage. Buckling or warped floors are indications of water damage, particularly in the basement. Dark or white stains on wood floors or damp carpeting show water damage and a damp, moldy odor in a house.
  • The Pipes: Check the basement bathroom, laundry room, and kitchen water pipe connections for corrosion, leaks, or water stains. Inspect the faucet connections for loose or missing caulking and missing grout. These are indications of water leaks. Check for wet spots on the floor around the water heater and the tank for rust. 
  • The Basement: Houses with a basement will frequently have damage baseboards, flooring, furniture, and walls. The first indicator there is or has been a water leak is a musty odor of mildew and mold. If you notice this odor, check for cracks, dampness, mildew, mold, rust, and stains.
  • The Attic: Check the attic for mildew, mold, and water stains, especially the areas where the roof planes meet and create a valley. Check around the chimney and plumbing vents. If the insulation is missing, sagging, torn or has wet spots/stains, these are indications of a water leak, usually from the roof.
  • The Exterior: Check around the exterior at the roof for cracked, curled shingles, flashing that is damaged or missing.  Another sign of water leak is standing water around the foundation. This could also be caused by damaged, missing, or lack of gutters and drain spouts or poor drainage.

How can you tell where a water leak is coming from?

The water you bathe and drink is under pressure, making it easier to notice a leak. Wastewater, however, moves by gravity rather than under pressure, making it difficult to detect and even hard to find the leak. Just like a roof leak, where you see the water coming from may not be where the leak begins, because water runs downhill. We reviewed the outward visual signs of water damage earlier, and now we will discuss how to detect underground water leaks without the aid of thermal inspection.   

  • Look for areas that are constantly wet on your property. 
  • Observe if there is water flow from the curb, driveway, and street. It may be a steady stream or a puddle that never dries, or a dark spot on the concrete. 
  • Check the water meter, making a note of the meter reading. Keep all water turned off inside the house for 2 or 3 hours, then re-read your meter. If it has moved, then you have a water leak underground, possibly under the house. Call a plumber and they can check for unseen leaks in the foundation or underground with a thermal inspection camera that will pinpoint exactly where the leak is and give you an estimate on repairing the leak. 

What is a thermal leak detector?

The thermal leak detector uses infrared sensors for a thermal inspection that measures the surface temperatures around your home or other structure. They make it possible to determine where your home is lacking energy efficiency with escaping cold and warm air.

What are infrared thermometers used for?

They use infrared thermometers for a thermal inspection that checks the surface temperature or checking the temperature of something from a distance. Infrared thermometers are quick, such as those used in a pediatrician office now for checking an infant’s temperature. They give an accurate temperature without ever touching the object, even a moving one. An infrared thermometer used correctly for a thermal inspection can help a homeowner find leaks around their house or determine areas of the house that are poorly insulated. 

Leak in copper plumbing pipe

How do you know if mold is behind drywall?

Follow your nose!  You can smell mildew and mold, it is a dirty, musty, almost earthy smell, like rotting leaves. If there is water standing or recurring in an area, such a water leak, it is providing the food that mold needs to grow.

If you suspect you have a foundation or underground water leak, an experienced plumber can provide a thermal inspection with the technology of thermography inspection frequency. This advanced and non-invasive technology enables a plumber or inspector to find things that are not visible but important to the home. Call 817-281-5325 today for your thermal leak inspection in Fort Worth, TX.