An infrared (IR) camera is a useful tool that can enhance an inspector's understanding of a building's systems and components. Its ability to read heat as color and then display that information in a way that's easily understood by the client makes the IR camera an important piece of equipment to have in the tool bag.
(Here is an example of a leaking water heater that was captured on an inspection, the purple areas on the floor are the wet areas)
Infrared cameras translate the heat signatures of objects into colors on a gradient scale, with higher temperatures appearing as lighter colors, and lower temperatures and wet areas appearing as darker colors. Also known as thermal imaging, IR technology captures the light that exists just outside the visible spectrum. Thermal images show surface-heat variations, which is why an IR camera is such a diverse tool for commercial and home inspectors that can be used for a variety of applications. Abnormally hot electrical components and connections can be viewed during an electrical inspection. Areas of moisture that may lead to leaks and structural damage can be located based on apparent temperature differences. Heat loss, air leakage in a building envelope and insufficient insulation can also be detected