How good is a Thermal Camera finding Termites?
Often customers will ask us how good is a thermal camera finding termites. If you were to use it as the only instrument or tool to find termites then our opinion is it's not very good. But is it the marketplaces opinion or high expectation on them that is setting the cameras up to fail? They definitely have their place as part of an array of inspection tools but they are not the magic wand or x-ray vision device some people think they are. To clarify, we are talking about their usefulness during a Termite Inspection only, their results differ in other environments and industries.
In our experience the area has to be high in moisture for the camera to pick it up. We do a full thermal camera scan of the house but find the camera helps us out more in investigating areas found with our more sensitive moisture meter. The Thermal Camera has the potential to give us a bigger insight to how far the moisture issue has spread in the wall.
What About Old Termite Activity?
None of our equipment will pick up dry old termite mudding or timber damage behind wall linings. So if the property has had termites in the past there is a probable risk there could be mudding or damage hidden on the walls. Unless there is high level of current moisture present or a mature termite colony resonating heat in the wall the thermal camera will not pick it up. The only way to find this activity is to remove wall linings and this is normally done when customers decide to renovate the property.
The Pre Purchase Building and Pest Inspection and Termite Inspection by Australian Standards is a visual inspection only. We are not allowed to poke, prod or remove any obstructions including wall lining or floor coverings. More on information about obstructions can be found on our Inspections on furnished and occupied homes post.
What will the Thermal Camera pick up then?
The Thermal Camera on several occasions has picked up old leaking hot water systems which were installed in the ceiling space. It has also found a faulty power point where the connection at the back was loose and creating a hot joint. Saving a potential house fire. It has found leaking failed waterproof membranes in common walls between apartments/units. It has found rising damp in brick work and also massive termite nests hidden in walls. Where it is handy is inspecting the ceiling for moisture. Some ceiling are just way too high to reach with the moisture meter so we can scan the ceiling with the Thermal Camera.
So to answer the question how good is a thermal camera finding termites. We think it's a great tool to compliment the array of tools we use in our Pre Purchase and Termite Inspections. Where it gets let down is the marketplaces expectation on what the camera will find especially in a Termite Inspection Environment.