FLIR and the Home Inspector

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jxofaltrds

Inspector Mike®
Location
Mike P. Columbus Ohio
Occupation
ESI, PI, RBO
Many HIs are doing Mold, Radon, EMF and now FLIR testing.

I was wondering how others handle an inspection report that says that a breaker is overheaded.

Here is an example that I found on the Internet. From the picture the breaker and conductor do not look to be overheated. Does it to you?
50? Celsius = 122? Fahrenheit my guess from looking at the picture.

breakerflir.jpg

Picture and quote from: http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/blog/archives/tag/flir-thermal-imager

"The Fluke and Flir thermal imagers are used on a breaker box to see if there is a temperature difference. When we see that there is an issue like in the image supplied we suggest an electrician come and investigate further. The issue at hand is overloading of this circuit with to many fixtures in the home. The remedy for this electrical box is to separate the fixtures throughout the home and run a dedicated breaker to eliminate overheating."

Once a picture is shown that indicates a possible problem how do you over come that?

What if the amp draw is within range?
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
If the breaker is overheated or overloaded it will trip. they can get uncomfortably warm before they trip. they are a thermal device that generates heat as part of how it works. there is no way around that.

If someone thinks a CB is overloaded and wants it "fixed", I would be inclined to give them a price for whatever they think they need to have done.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
I agree with Don. I would start by attempting to tighten the connection (no, I mean that I would call upon an electrican to do that for me. :happyyes:)

But I had to admit that the term "FLIR" threw me for a loop. In my Navy days, that was an acronym for "Forward Looking InfraRed," a phrase that had to do with tracking of targets at night. Do I correctly understand that in this context, it is a brand name of a device used to do thermal imaging?
 
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K8MHZ

Senior Member
Location
Michigan. It's a beautiful peninsula, I've looked
Occupation
Electrician
I agree with Don. I would start by attempting to tighten the connection (no, I mean that I would call upon an electrican to do that for me. :happyyes:)

But I had to admit that the term "FLIR" threw me for a loop. In my Navy days, that was an acronym for "Forward Looking InfraRed," a phrase that had to do with tracking of targets at night. Do I correctly understand that in this context, it is a brand name of a device used to do thermal imaging?

Your are correct, we use them on helicopters for search and rescue.

Most people are referring to Flir, the brand name.

www.flir.com
 

ELA

Senior Member
Occupation
Electrical Test Engineer
Many HIs are doing Mold, Radon, EMF and now FLIR testing.

I was wondering how others handle an inspection report that says that a breaker is overheated.

What if the amp draw is within range?

By asking the Inspector what the measured current draw was and then asking them what the normal temperature of "The Thermal Element" of a thermal-magnetic breaker is when loaded to 80%.
In Lieu of further information a picture like the one posted may not point to anything other than one circuit more heavily loaded (yet within its rating) when compared to others that are not.
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
...In Lieu of further information a picture like the one posted may not point to anything other than one circuit more heavily loaded (yet within its rating) when compared to others that are not.
If it was just from the circuit loading, I would expect that the temperature of the conductor would be more uniform. There is a hot spot at the point of termination and I would expect to find a poor connection based on the picture.
 

ramsy

Roger Ruhle dba NoFixNoPay
Location
LA basin, CA
Occupation
Service Electrician 2017 NEC
The empirical incompetence of private-party home inspectors in North America should be trusted with complex instrumentation, like IR cameras, long after monkeys are trusted to operate machinery while intoxicated.
 

jxofaltrds

Inspector Mike®
Location
Mike P. Columbus Ohio
Occupation
ESI, PI, RBO
The empirical incompetence of private-party home inspectors in North America should be trusted with complex instrumentation, like IR cameras, long after monkeys are trusted to operate machinery while intoxicated.

I was trying not to go there. I follow HIs all the time. I am called in often after Home Inspections to give an opinion. I am not looking to bash them. What I do is give the individuals involved the 'facts'. I have no axe to grind or anything to prove. Again just facts.

IR pictures scare people just like telling them that there are "double tapped" breakers in the panel. They think the house is going to burn down.

What I want to do is explain calmly to them what the facts are. Double taps = code violation ≠ a safety hazard.

Many electrical safety hazards are found by HIs. I just want to tap others experiences so when I run into that 'one' bad HI I have good information to offer.
 

K8MHZ

Senior Member
Location
Michigan. It's a beautiful peninsula, I've looked
Occupation
Electrician
I was trying not to go there. I follow HIs all the time. I am called in often after Home Inspections to give an opinion. I am not looking to bash them. What I do is give the individuals involved the 'facts'. I have no axe to grind or anything to prove. Again just facts.

IR pictures scare people just like telling them that there are "double tapped" breakers in the panel. They think the house is going to burn down.

What I want to do is explain calmly to them what the facts are. Double taps = code violation ≠ a safety hazard.

Many electrical safety hazards are found by HIs. I just want to tap others experiences so when I run into that 'one' bad HI I have good information to offer.

By 'double taps' if you mean two wires on a breaker terminal, that's not a code violation. Many breakers are listed for two.
 

BPoindexter

Inactive, Email Never Verified
Location
MT Vernon, WA
That is indicating a poor connection at the breaker. Per NFPA 70B or NETA MTS the action to be taken is based on the difference in the ambient temperature or the difference in similarly loaded breakers in the same panel/loadcenter/mcc etc.

NFPA 70B (compared to other terminals):

1) Temperature differences of 1?C to 3?C indicate possible
deficiency and warrant investigation.
(2) Temperature differences of 4?C to 15?C indicate deficiency;
repairs should be made as time permits.
(3) Temperature differences of 16?C and above indicate major
deficiency; repairs should be made immediately.

NETA MTS

Temperature difference ( T)
based on comparisons
between similar components
under similar loading

1? C ? 3? C
Possible deficiency; warrants
investigation

4? C ? 15? C
Indicates probable deficiency; repair as
time permits

>15? C
Major discrepancy; repair immediately

Temperature difference ( T)
based upon comparisons
between component and
ambient air temperatures

1? C ? 10? C
Possible deficiency; warrants
investigation

11? C ? 20? C
Indicates probable deficiency; repair as
time permits

21? C ? 40? C
Monitor until corrective measures can be
accomplished

>40? C
Major discrepancy; repair immediately

So what the photo is missing is a comparison indicating reference temps.

IRScan.JPG

As you can see in this photo M1 & M2 are points where temps are recorded. This case M1 is 109.1F and M2 is 91.3F so a difference roughly 9.9C. We will be taking down this panel in a panel in a couple of weeks to check terminations and lugs.

There are all kinds of factors that can give you erroneous readings so you really need to be trained on how to do these however the newer cameras are much better and less prone to errors.
 

jxofaltrds

Inspector Mike®
Location
Mike P. Columbus Ohio
Occupation
ESI, PI, RBO
That is indicating a poor connection at the breaker. Per NFPA 70B or NETA MTS the action to be taken is based on the difference in the ambient temperature or the difference in similarly loaded breakers in the same panel/loadcenter/mcc etc.

NFPA 70B (compared to other terminals):

1) Temperature differences of 1?C to 3?C indicate possible
deficiency and warrant investigation.
(2) Temperature differences of 4?C to 15?C indicate deficiency;
repairs should be made as time permits.
(3) Temperature differences of 16?C and above indicate major
deficiency; repairs should be made immediately.

NETA MTS

Temperature difference ( T)
based on comparisons
between similar components
under similar loading

1? C ? 3? C
Possible deficiency; warrants
investigation

4? C ? 15? C
Indicates probable deficiency; repair as
time permits

>15? C
Major discrepancy; repair immediately

Temperature difference ( T)
based upon comparisons
between component and
ambient air temperatures

1? C ? 10? C
Possible deficiency; warrants
investigation

11? C ? 20? C
Indicates probable deficiency; repair as
time permits

21? C ? 40? C
Monitor until corrective measures can be
accomplished

>40? C
Major discrepancy; repair immediately

So what the photo is missing is a comparison indicating reference temps.

View attachment 7282

As you can see in this photo M1 & M2 are points where temps are recorded. This case M1 is 109.1F and M2 is 91.3F so a difference roughly 9.9C. We will be taking down this panel in a panel in a couple of weeks to check terminations and lugs.

There are all kinds of factors that can give you erroneous readings so you really need to be trained on how to do these however the newer cameras are much better and less prone to errors.

Thank You! Great info!
 

ptonsparky

Senior Member
Location
NE (9.06 miles @5.9 Degrees from Winged Horses)
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I would have looked at this image, whomsoever supplied it, as chance for a money making service call and also and educational experience for both me and the customer. They are nice tools and even better in the hands a highly trained professional. No different than an other tool.
 
Something no one has mentioned but is EXTREMELY importent when talking about thermography is a materials emissivity. Think of it as how efficient a material is in radiating IR light based on its temperature. The E value is a number from 0 to 1 with a perfect mirror being 0 and a perfect blackbody being 1. Think of it as a fudge factor. Look at the picture below of an iron. The iron is hot but one side is painted and the other side is the factory surface.

http://i.imgur.com/UUF3H.png

Go ahead and touch the left side, I dare you. :) Thermography is something I have done a great deal of before I became an electrician. A thermal camera will have a setting that you set the the emissivity of the objects surface that you are measuring. Unless you set the cameras emissivity setting to the object that you are measuring, your temperature data is basically junk. You can make relative measurements but thats about it and even those are suspect.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emissivity

N
ow, heres a pro tip . Black electric tape has an emissivity of .97 (basically 1). If you want to make an accurate temperature measurement of something, put a small piece (3/4" x 3/4" is perfect) of electric tape on it and measure the temperature of the tape. If you want to make a relative measurement, put a piece of tape on all surfaces you want to look at. Trust me, it works.

If I can find it, ill post a picture of a soldering iron that shows the tip at 120F and the handle over 200F when in actuality,the tip is 700F and the handle is 80F. Its all depends on the surface and its emissivity.

If anyone is interested, Ill explain why the holes are showing warmer than the surrounding surface even though the surface in the hole is no different.
 

broadgage

Senior Member
Location
London, England
In a simple two wire circuit wired in black and white wire, would the black wire appear hotter than the white ?
I suspect that it would due to the likely greater emmissivity of the black insulation.

Anyone got a thermal imaging camera and access to some well loaded black and white wires ?
The black wire probably is in fact hotter at terminals in a load center as breakers are normally hotter than neutral bars.
But along a run I would expect that black and white reach the same actual temperature.
 

K8MHZ

Senior Member
Location
Michigan. It's a beautiful peninsula, I've looked
Occupation
Electrician
110.3(B).

Do we agree it is not a safety issue?

Just HIs acting like electrical inspectors.

I've never lost any sleep over it.

In fact, one job I did involved getting the AHJ to a house that an HI told the owner that two wires on a breaker were illegal. The AHJ came over, giged the house on items the HI missed and left a note for the owner that he had looked at the breakers and they were fine.

I got paid to fix the stuff the HI missed. Like incandescent lights in the closets and an extension cord used for permanent wiring for the garage door opener.

Personally, I don't think HI's should be allowed to do electrical inspections.
 

jxofaltrds

Inspector Mike®
Location
Mike P. Columbus Ohio
Occupation
ESI, PI, RBO
I've never lost any sleep over it.

In fact, one job I did involved getting the AHJ to a house that an HI told the owner that two wires on a breaker were illegal. The AHJ came over, giged the house on items the HI missed and left a note for the owner that he had looked at the breakers and they were fine.

I got paid to fix the stuff the HI missed. Like incandescent lights in the closets and an extension cord used for permanent wiring for the garage door opener.

Personally, I don't think HI's should be allowed to do electrical inspections.

Here is what Ohio says:

No person shall engage in the practice of electrical inspection in this state unless he is the holder of a certificate of competency as an electrical safety inspector issued under Chapter 3783. of the Revised Code. Any person practicing or offering to practice electrical inspection shall show proof of his certification upon request as provided by rules of the board of building standards.

Effective Date: 03-22-1973

And no your Ohio state license does not allow you to perform electrical inspections.

http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/3783.06
 
In a simple two wire circuit wired in black and white wire, would the black wire appear hotter than the white ?
I suspect that it would due to the likely greater emmissivity of the black insulation.

Anyone got a thermal imaging camera and access to some well loaded black and white wires ?
The black wire probably is in fact hotter at terminals in a load center as breakers are normally hotter than neutral bars.
But along a run I would expect that black and white reach the same actual temperature.

In general terms, black is no more emissive than white. That being said, if you have black PVC jacketed wire and white nylon jacketed wire, then you will have differences. The color in the visible spectrum has little to do with emissivity. Its the material and surface preparation.

When I get back to the shop on Monday, ill make some pictures. Any requests? Ill do 12ga black, red, white and green THHN, all at the same measured temperature.
 
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