Thermal Energy Leak – Compare Wall and Ceiling Insulation

Many homes in NZ don’t have insulation in the walls and suffer heat loss in a big way.

Although there are now government subsidies to assist you with costs of installing insulation, most people don’t even know if there is insulation behind their walls in the first place.

If you live in a home built in the 50’s, 60’s and so on up to the year 2000, it doesn’t always mean the home has no insulation. In many cases, the home has been renovated and insulation batts or spray foam insulation has been installed along the way.

Here’s a thermal image of missing insulation in a wall, compared to a ceiling that does have insulation…

Darker Colour Walls is Cooler
Darker Colour Wall is Cooler

As you can see, the wall is cooler in this image and the ceiling is much warmer. When you have a clear surface temperature difference on the gib board wall like this house, it’s quite obvious there’s a lack of insulation. Climbing into ceiling space to install a thermal barrier like insulation is easy, but to insulate the walls requires more money due to the intrusive nature required to do such a job… and that’s why some home owners skip that step.

So how do you know if you have heat energy loss issues in your home?

Let me say this. I inspect and detect issues behind walls in many New Zealand homes… but I had no idea this home had no insulation behind the walls until I scanned it with the infrared thermal imaging camera… I then knew right away. As you can see in the above photo, there would be serious heat loss issues in this particular house.

Something else to consider when looking to install insulation, is how much of your wall do the windows take up? Some windows take up 80% of a wall is some cases, so if the window is single glazed, it’s almost pointless going to the expense of insulating the other 20% because the large cold window surface could knock out the effect of the insulation! 

Thermal imaging cameras are the tool of choice to see temperature differences of walls and ceiling… and lack of insulation. It’s simple, fast and no holes go in your walls!

Can You Feel a Wind Draft Coming Through Your House?

Do you feel a slight air/wind drafting into your house?

Tracking down where a hidden air draft is entering your home isn’t as easy as it sounds… or is it?

An infrared thermal imaging camera is a great tool to detect where the air is sneaking into your home. If you see a curtain moving and you haven’t got any window or doors open, then it’s usually one of two things:

1) There is a wind draft in your home that could be floating across your ceiling and down the back of a curtain, or from under a door, or even through an unsealed scotia (like the photo below), or;

2) It’s a ghost (unlikely)

Below are two photo’s of air ‘sneaking’ into living spaces that shouldn’t be there, and in the meantime reducing the energy efficiency of the home…


Air drafting into the home between scotia and gib ceiling
Air drafting into the home between scotia and gib ceiling

In general, you won’t be able to detect where the air is entering your home because you can’t see it, and in most cases you won’t feel it either. Our thermal imaging camera will see it due to the minute change of temperature on the surface nearest to where the air is entering the building… as long as the outside air temperature drafting in is at least 6 degrees different to the surface temperature at it’s entry point.

Some people have even called to tell me they can feel warm air on their head, and cool air blowing across their feat at the same time when sitting on the family couch! That’s slightly annoying to say the least, but it must be coming from somewhere?

Ceiling Insulation Batts Missing After CCC Issued!

Here’s just another reason why a thermal home inspection should be considered when buying a home in NZ:

This should make you scratch your head…

Recently I performed a thermal imaging inspection on a home built in 2005 in the Greenhithe/North Shore area, and what I found was very ‘unethical’ to say the least. If you weren’t aware, council requires ceiling insulation to be installed before issuing a Code of Compliance Certificate (CCC) on the home.

Well… the builder had removed the ceiling insulation pink batts out of the home AFTER the council issued the CCC! Yes, you read that correctly. The batts were installed when building the house, then completely removed before handing the keys to the new owner. I wonder how many homes that same set of batts has been through now??

Take your time when purchasing a home. Here’s what insulation looks like through an infrared camera…

We see what building inspectors dont see!
We see what building inspectors don't see!

Infrared – Damaged or Missing Insulation Causing Heat Loss

If you’ve ever thought about infrared thermal imaging as a way to detect missing or damaged insulation in your home, then this picture should ‘tell a thousand words’

When we perform pre purchase inspections with the infrared camera, we are also looking for missing insulation that could be causing heat loss. During a building inspection in Auckland recently, we found a complete wall that was substantially cooler then the rest of the walls in the home. For a home buyer, this is obviously a concern for a couple of reasons… 1) The home is not energy efficient at all, and 2) The home will cost more to heat (more money).

Here’s a photo of the corner of one of the rooms showing the warmer side on the left, and the cooler side of the wall on the right. Same room – larger temperature variations…

thermal image of missing insulation

This is just another reason why an infrared inspection is very useful when buying a home!

Thermal Image of Air Leak Around Door (Heat Loss)

Ever wondered where your expensive home heat could be escaping over winter?

Heat loss and air escaping around doors and windows are very common… but most of the time we can’t ‘see’ where the air gets in/out with our own eyes. We have a ‘special’ set of eyes (infrared) that detects such problems in the home!

This photo below is an excellent thermal imaging photo of an air leak around a door in an Auckland home. The darker shades indicate an area of a cool draft air infiltrating into a room…

Heat loss air leak

Our infrared thermal imaging technology will see what the human eye can not see… saving you money in the process

Contact us for a free ‘over the phone’ quick quote

Does Wet Insulation, or Moisture in Insulation Ever Dry Out?

You may be interested to know that once you have moist or wet insulation, it may never dry out!

A study in the USA did a test to see how long it would take for wet insulation to dry out in the sun, and depending on the thickness and absorbancy of the insulation type, it takes somewhere between 10-100 years!

For insulation to accumulate moisture, it usually needs to be penetrated somehow for the water/moisture to gain access. Sometimes this penetration can happen in the most unexpected of ways… like being chewed by rodents! Here’s a photo of rat chewed insulation behind the walls.

See photo here

Photo of Water Damaged Insulation Behind Walls

Do you have water damaged insulation?

Water damage to insulation can potentially spell disaster to both the structural integrity of your home, and also your energy bill!

If water & moisture sits in behind your walls for extended periods of time, then you’ll find it slowly creeps into the framework, drywall/plasterboard and beyond. In a nutshell, water will creep it’s way downwards due to gravity and sideways through absorption… and any tiny gap in between!

water damaged insulation

Take this photo for example. This photo was taken at night time from the buildings exterior during a thermal imaging building inspection. The inside of the building was warm and the exterior air temperature was cold. The white area you see is wet insulation, and the finger shapes you seen is water creeping down the wall due to gravity.

Due to warm air naturally rising in the home (in still conditions), the warm air in this building is all being lost at the top due to conduction. Once warm air is lost at the top, it’s replaced by cooler air at the bottom…. and as a result the whole building will cool.

We can detect missing insulation behind your walls that could be causing an unhealthy home! Contact us for a free quote.

NZ Leak & Heat Loss Detection Ltd.

(Photo -Infraspection Institute)

How Does Moisture Get Inside Your Insulation? (See Photo)

There are multiple ways moisture can get inside your insulation, but this particular ‘method’ of moisture infiltration happens all the time behind walls, and is certainly a common cause of conductive heat loss in homes.

Did you ever suspect rodents could be eating into your insulation?

rodents eating insulation

This photo demonstrates a regular wall in a regular home that has visible cold spots as seen in the bottom half of the photo in black. After the missing insulation was detected by the thermal imaging camera, a further invasive inspection revealed the moisture had entered into the insulation due to the clever work of rodents behind the wall!

So the question you should ask yourself here is “Have I ever heard noises behind the wall that resemble an animal of some kind?”. If so, you may need to get an infrared scan of your home for defective insulation. Insulation is usually nice and warm in winter, and little animals in your wall are going to reside right in amongst it for there own survival… and eat away at it while they’re there!

Contact us for an insulation ‘check up’ before your walls fill with moisture!

Interesting fact: Wet insulation takes between 10-100 years to dry out (study conducted by USA university)

  (Photo -Infraspection Institute)

Do You Have a Roof, Building Envelope or Insulation Warranty Still in Effect?

If you currently have a warranty in place for your roof, insulation or building envelope, here is some very important information for you to read…

Lets say you have a 5 yr builders warranty on your home roof, and 4 years have passed without a hitch. Does this mean there’s isn’t a problem with the roof, and everything should be fine? No. You may not be able to see it, but there could be air leaks, trapped water between the membrane and insulation, leaks in roof tiles, cracked tiles, popped nails on tin roofs etc. All these usually go undetected until it’s too late.

roof leak water infiltration

Get a thermal imaging scan to maximise your warranty!

What’s happening behind your walls? We can do a scan of your ceiling and see any unusual thermal anomalies that could be caused by either an air leak(s) or latent moisture. These common issues are usually a result of a roof failure.

We can take a thermal image of any detected issues found in your ceiling to assist your case if you need to make a warrenty claim! This method of early detection could also apply to any other current warranty you have on components in your home.

Call us today for a ‘warranty claim check up’.

(Pic provided by thermal imaging survey)

Solid Wall Insulation

How does it work?

If you own a property here in New Zealand, and it has solid walls, keep in mind that up to 45% of the heat produced can be lost as it escapes through the external walls of your home. Insulating the walls can dramatically reduce the amount of heat loss in winter, and minimise the amount of heat gain in summer. Most homes in this country are insulated due to the colder winter climate, but the actual installation process may see a ‘few missing pieces’ that will see heat escape. We can’t see this problem with the human eye unless we climb into ceiling (or see through the wall)… that’s why our company uses thermal imaging to detect such problems.

Solid brick, solid stone, timber frame (pre 1944) and concrete constructed houses can all improve their thermal efficiency by either lining the interior of the external walls with a insulating material, or by rendering the outside walls with a protective insulating layer.

The efficiancy of the insulation method will depend primarily on home many dollars you’re prepared to spend, however even the cheapest forms of internal wall lining can still produce beneficial results and reduce your energy bills.

What to watch out for

The biggest insulation related problem encountered by owners of solid brick houses is damp. This arises when the house has been thoroughly insulated all over, with little or zero provision made for the house to be able breathe.

If the walls are not able to ventilate air properly, the act of insulating the walls can lead to increased levels of moisture within the building which may, over time, result in potential problems with damp.

It is therefore very important when considering having wall insulation fitted to ensure the walls are damp free, and that there is a reliable source of ventilation to allow air movement within the walls. This also means checking the damp proof course (d.p.c.) is intact all around the house, to prevent rising damp attacking the newly attached insulation.

Also ensure all essential ventilation openings, such as those providing combustion air or underfloor ventilation, and all flues in the cavity wall are checked. If adequate sleeving or other cavity closures are not present, installation should not proceed until these openings have been sleeved or otherwise modified to prevent blockage by the insulant.

Which Material?

A solid wall can either be insulated internally or externally. Either option will reduce heat loss and increase comfort in your home, therefore the decision as to which method to choose comes down to either your budget, any particular design or decoration aesthetics inside your home, or both.

Internal Insulation

Internal insulation systems are usually mounted onto wooden studwork frames which are then plugged onto the wall. This leaves a gap between the insulation and the wall to trap warm, still air and effectively ‘double glaze’ your walls. The following materials are most common;

– A dry lining in the form of flexible thermal linings – available in 1m x 12.5m rolls.
– Laminated insulating plasterboard (known as thermal board).
– A built-up system of fibrous insulation such as mineral wool.

External Insulation

External insulation systems comprise an insulation layer fixed to the existing wall, and a protective render or decorative cladding over the top. Dry cladding the insulation can offer a wide range of finishes such as stone or clay tiles, brick slips or aluminium panels.

External insulation, although generally more expensive, is in most cases the more suitable solution to insulating a solid wall property as the process leaves the internal design and decoration completely unaffected. Also, if a room is relatively small in the first instance, internal methods will make the room smaller and they bring the walls closer together.

How much will it cost?

The costs can vary quite considerably depending on the particular method chosen to insulate the walls. As a general rule however, internal insulation systems are considerably cheaper than external cladding techniques. Regardless of which method you choose, it’s always advisable to obtain as many quotes as possible from specialist builders before deciding the best course of action.

Can you DIY?

Assuming that all damp problems have been fixed, if you are fairly comfortable putting up plaster board etc then applying internal insulation to the outside walls of your property should be a fairly straightforward process. However if in any doubt it is advisable to contract a specialist builder to carry out the work for you.

External insulation systems are a much more complicated process and involve handling of specialist insulating materials. As such it is advisable to contract a specialist insulation builder to carry out any work for you.

Is there moisture lurking behind your walls right now? We will detect it… fast! Contact Us