Just as nSpek, nspec was a family business in the inspection industry using the best technology to impact the digital inspection industry. After many years in operation, the good folks from Kansas city were retiring, and we jumped at the opportunity to merge our branding.
For the sake of legacy, here is the previous content:
Isn’t your home worth the very best inspector in the Kansas City market?
“Let NSEPC take the worry out of one of the largest investments of your life.”
Kansas City Infrared (Thermographic) Inspections
We service all of Johnson County including Olathe and Overland Park, as well as the greater Kansas City metro area. NSPEC Infrared (Thermographic) Inspections can be reached by phone or email to schedule an inspection or for more information.
Our Home Inspection Services
We offer a wide array of Infrared/Thermography inspection services.
Do you have a water leak no one can find? Thermographic can find it!
Do you have cold spots in your home? Thermographic can find them!
NSPEC is a leader in the industry. With leadership roles locally and nationally for ASHI. A founding member of SPPI and writer of their Standards of Practice. Our custom software allows us to prepare a concise, clearly written, easy-to-understand report with a summary of unsatisfactory conditions.
Thank you for visiting the About Us section to your left you can find information about NSPEC, our certifications, some very positive results in a survey conducted by ASHI on Customer Satisfaction, as well as contact us with any questions or comments you may have.
Nonna and Poppa with Liam
NSPEC’s owner started working in his father’s heating and cooling company in 1965. By 1977, that company had started doing “mechanical” inspections.
On July 1, 1978, he started his own company. He specialized in residential property inspections and also offered repair services. He operated a full service mechanical contracting company in addition to his inspection business until 1994. At that time he sold the repair business and now does inspections exclusively.
Since his beginnings, he has completed more than 24,000 property inspections on residential and light commercial structures.
He and his wife have been married for over 32 years. They have seven children and four grandchildren.
Madelyn, Lucy and Charlotte
Level 1 infrared thermography certification consists of 4 days of training, a closed book ISO 9001 approved test, and submission of a field project to the ITC (infrared training center). The IR primer describes in detail the information a Level 1 thermographer must comprehend, test on, and apply to receive this certification.
NSPEC also holds FLIR level 2 and Building Investigation certifications.
NSPEC is certified in Hydronic heating (boilers) and is also a Certified Backflow Specialist. He has EPA credentials for refrigerant handling.
His extensive background in the mechanical trades, as well as these professional credits, make him the most experienced inspector in the Kansas City area.
Infrared / Thermography Services
“Infrared (IR) inspection is a fast and noninvasive means of monitoring and diagnosing the condition of buildings. An IR camera can instantly identify problem areas that can be immediately documented with full color thermal pictures…”
“Thermography enables us to see and measure heat. All materials on earth emit heat energy, in the infrared portion of the spectrum. Unfortunately, the unaided human eye cannot see the infrared. Infrared images allow the camera user to see temperature anomalies that identify potential problems in buildings and their component electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and waterproofing systems.”
from Communicator Magazine – Infrared Inspections: The Wave of the Future by Dick Price
U.S. Department of Energy – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Thermographic Inspections Energy auditors may use thermography-or infrared scanning-to detect thermal defects and air leakage in building envelopes.
How They Work Thermography measures surface temperatures by using infrared video and still cameras. These tools see light that is in the heat spectrum. Images on the video or film record the temperature variations of the building’s skin, ranging from white for warm regions to black for cooler areas. The resulting images help the auditor determine whether insulation is needed. They also serve as a quality control tool, to ensure that insulation has been installed correctly.
A thermographic inspection is either an interior or exterior survey. The energy auditor decides which method would give the best results under certain weather conditions. Interior scans are more common, because warm air escaping from a building does not always move through the walls in a straight line. Heat loss detected in one area of the outside wall might originate at some other location on the inside of the wall. Also, it is harder to detect temperature differences on the outside surface of the building during windy weather. Because of this difficulty, interior surveys are generally more accurate because they benefit from reduced air movement.
Thermographic scans are also commonly used with a blower door test running. The blower door helps exaggerate air leaking through defects in the building shell. Such air leaks appear as black streaks in the infrared camera’s viewfinder.
Thermography uses specially designed infrared video or still cameras to make images (called thermograms) that show surface heat variations. This technology has a number of applications. Thermograms of electrical systems can detect abnormally hot electrical connections or components. Thermograms of mechanical systems can detect the heat created by excessive friction. Energy auditors use thermography as a tool to help detect heat losses and air leakage in building envelopes.
Infrared scanning allows energy auditors to check the effectiveness of insulation in a building’s construction. The resulting thermograms help auditors determine whether a building needs insulation and where in the building it should go. Because wet insulation conducts heat faster than dry insulation, thermographic scans of roofs can often detect roof leaks.
In addition to using thermography during an energy audit, you should have a scan done before purchasing a house; even new houses can have defects in their thermal envelopes. You may wish to include a clause in the contract requiring a thermographic scan of the house. A thermographic scan performed by a certified technician is usually accurate enough to use as documentation in court proceedings.
The energy auditor may use one of several types of infrared sensing devices in an on-site inspection. A spot radiometer (also called a point radiometer) is the simplest. It measures radiation one spot at a time, with a simple meter reading showing the temperature of a given spot. The auditor pans the area with the device and notes the differences in temperature. A thermal line scanner shows radiant temperature viewed along a line. The thermogram shows the line scan superimposed over a picture of the panned area. This process shows temperature variations along the line. The most accurate thermographic inspection device is a thermal imaging camera, which produces a 2-dimensional thermal picture of an area showing heat leakage. Spot radiometers and thermal line scanners do not provide the necessary detail for a complete home energy audit. Infrared film used in a conventional camera is not sensitive enough to detect heat loss.
Preparing for a Thermographic Inspection To prepare for an interior thermal scan, the homeowner should take steps to ensure an accurate result. This may include moving furniture away from exterior walls and removing drapes. The most accurate thermographic images usually occur when there is a large temperature difference (at least 20°F [14°C]) between inside and outside air temperatures. In northern states, thermographic scans are generally done in the winter. In southern states, however, scans are usually conducted during warm weather with the air conditioner on.
Learn More Department of Energy Resources Tracer Technology Center Brookhaven National Laboratory Reading List Snell, J. (January 2002). “Is There a New IR Camera in Your Future?” Energy Design Update (22:1); pp. 7-9. Snell, J. (March/April 2002). “The Latest in Hot Shots.” Home Energy (19:2); pp. 14-17. Eads, L. et al. (March 2000). “Practical Guide to Thermography.” ASHRAE Journal (42:3); pp. 51-55. Infrared Thermography Fact Sheet (PDF 1.1 MB). (September 2005). Washington State University Energy Program and Western Area Power Administration.
Moisture Intrusion & Potential Mold
Water that has entered a home because joints where not properly sealed is not visible to the eye until after the water damage has become extensive. Moisture penetration can also lead to mold and mildew problems. Because wet construction materials have different thermal patterns than dry, Infrared thermograms can show small amounts of moisture intrusion behind siding or inside walls and ceilings . Repairs can be initiated while the moisture problems are small and before the house become uninhabitable.
Faulty Electrical & HVAC Components
IR thermograms can identify potential electrical fires before they happen by looking for overheated areas in the electric panel.
The problem in the upper right corner was visible to the naked eye but the overheating in the lower left did not show up until IR was used. IR allows any inspection to be more thorough.
IR also can identify leaky duct work which increases energy costs. Problems with other HVAC components which affect safety and comfort in your home can also be diagnosed.
Missing or Damaged Insulation
Missing insulation costs money every month on a homeowner’s utility bills. Infrared thermographs can detect missing, uneven, or damaged insulation in walls and ceilings, saving you money and making your home more comfortable.
Wall and ceiling Insulation Damage
Wall Insulation damage
Find out more about what happens during an energy audit in our online slide presentation.
Your home’s energy audit comes with a comprehensive report detailing major opportunities for upgrading the energy efficiency of your home and estimates the savings and costs for each recommendation. It also provides information about financing and finding contractors. Implementing the recommendations will make your home more comfortable and more valuable, while lowering your energy bills.
Energy Audits can save your hard earned money!
Energy audits are an important step in finiding weak points in your home’s where energy conserving steps can best be put to use, maximizing the return on your investment.
As a certified energy auditor and level 1 thermographer NSPEC has extensive knowledge, skill and high tech equiptment to pinpoint problem areas in your home. He can also provide information on available tax credits specifically in place to offset your costs.
Homeowners and renters know saving energy means saving money without sacrificing comfort. There are many things you can do to save energy in your current home, or when designing and building a new energy-efficient house. Whether you choose no/low cost improvements or invest in long-term energy saving strategies, the following sites can help you choose what is best for your energy picture.
The links below provide an overview of ways to save energy, find assistance to make your home energy efficient and what your state is doing to help save energy. These links are your information gateway to cutting edge energy saving ideas.
For more information or to receive a quote please contact us, we would love to hear from you.
It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s also unwise to pay too little. When you pay too much, all you lose is a little money. But, when you pay too little, you stand a chance of losing everything because the thing [or service] you bought is incapable of doing what you bought it to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it just can’t be done. So, when you deal with the low bidder, it’s wise to put a little something aside to take care of the risk you run. And, if you do that, you can afford something better. – John Ruskin
The U.S. Department of Energy Recommendations
The U.S. Department of Energy now advises home buyers to get an infrared (thermographic) inspection before making a final purchasing decision In a publication titled “A Consumer’s Guide to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy” (EERE), the DOE outlines the benefits of infrared scanning to detect problems with energy efficiency. It goes on to state, “In addition to using thermography during an energy audit, you should have a scan done before purchasing a house; even new houses can have defects in their thermal envelopes.”
“You may wish to include a clause in the contract requiring a thermographic scan of the house,” the DOE adds. “A thermographic scan performed by a certified technician is usually accurate enough to use as documentation in court proceedings.”
Good Stucco… GONE BAD!
If you have experienced any of the problems described below, we can help!
For many of you, yes even those of you with newer homes, this is a website you need to reach out to. You see, a great many newer homes in the Greater Kansas City area are plagued with leaks, moisture intrusion and mold problems. The causes are many and varied, but center around one basic premise, your house was built wrong! Be it through oversight, greed or sloppiness, far too many of the homes in your area were not built to the proper building codes.
“But my builder said they did it right”
Your builder may not have even seen your house before you took posession. Most builders use subs, who use subs, who may or may not have followed the proper procedures laid out by the architect.
“But the City Codes inspector O.K.’d it”
City codes stop by a house several times while it is being built, but do you really think they are allowed the time to look at each and every window and joint to see that they were done correctly? The cities make them focus on the broad overview of the codes and make a house structurally safe when you move in. The only problem is, as moisture intrudes, your house becomes less and less “Safe” with each passing day, both from a structural standpoint and a health standpoint.
“We had a problem but the builder fixed it!”
HOW did they fix it? Correctly and for the long haul or quickly to get past the warranty? If you don’t know how it should be done, you don’t know if it was don correctly.
We urge you to just look around and decide for yourself what your “Real” questions are.
It’s in the details!
For those of you that live in a house that has windows or a roof, regardless of what kind of siding is on it, it miht be in the best interest of your health and investment to have an exterior inspection for potential leaks! For most of us our home is the single biggest investment we make in our lives, yet most homeowners are not aware of what to look for when they are building or buying their home. And they are especially vulnerable when they run into a problem. That’s where we come in!
Improper window installation and lack of flashing can cause major rot and structural damage if it is not detected and repaired. The sooner these issues are identified the less expensive they will be to repair.
Are your finish, windows and trim installed right?
Increasing awareness of water-damaged buildings has lead many to assume that their exterior treatment, (stucco, brick, etc.) are inferior cladding systems, which is often not the case. Damages within stucco and other cladding systems are often the result of other construction deficiencies such as window installation, window failure, grading, and flashing details. While an inferior exterior installation can certainly exacerbate the problem, it is only one of several issues to consider when we evaluate construction defects and water intrusion.
If you have experienced any of these problems, we can help!
The article below ran on the front page of the Kansas City Star on Sunday, April 10, 2005. The problems described could have been detected and thus prevented using thermography.
Problems Lurking Behind Bad Stucco Improper Application May Cost You In Repairs by Paul Wenske, KansasCity.com
Dwight Orr suspected he had a problem when he saw water leaking into his $500,000 Parkville home – but he never dreamed it was literally rotting away.
When workers tore off the exterior’s synthetic stucco in 2003, they found water damage and mold so extensive that the repair bill totaled a staggering $105,000.
“It was just a god-awful mess,” said Orr, who sued the builder of his nine-year-old home and won a judgment through arbitration. “It has taken a long time to get over feeling totally irate about this.”
Orr isn’t the only one steaming over bad stucco.
Experts predict that because of damage caused by improperly applied stucco, hundreds of homeowners in the Kansas City area – and thousands nationwide – may end up paying millions of dollars to repair homes that are less than 15 years old.
“Our general feeling is that this is a big problem,” said Jerry Anderson, assistant codes administrator in Overland Park, one of the first area cities to begin inspecting stucco. Anderson acknowledged no one knows the scope of the problem, though experts estimate that eight out of 10 homes probably aren’t affected. But Johnson County codes officials have formed a task force with local builders to develop stucco application standards. They hope such standards will be adopted across the metropolitan area.
Codes officials in communities outside Johnson County are not yet participating in the task force but are monitoring its progress.
“We have the best intentions, and we have put together a pretty good standard,” said Chris Neal, government affairs director in Kansas for the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City. “Education is certainly going to be a cornerstone of this program.” The stucco problem only recently surfaced across the metropolitan area. Elsewhere in the United States, it already has spawned class-action lawsuits and spurred home inspectors, city building codes officials and homeowners to take corrective measures before houses are destroyed.
Bad-stucco problems began to be noticed in the Kansas City area about two years ago. Because there were no codes that addressed stucco application, area codes inspectors said they seldom even looked at stucco on new homes.
“No one was going by any standard; there was no one way to do things right in everyone’s mind,” said Jerry Mallory, director of the Johnson County building contractor licensing program.
But many today agree, Mallory said, that “we don’t think it was being done correctly.” In October, Mallory’s group began holding seminars for contractors to call attention to stucco problems. Building officials have joined with the Home Builders Association to write a “best practices” guide to promote standards in applying stucco.
Stucco is widely recognized as a strong exterior covering for homes. Experts estimate that half or more of all homes constructed nationally and locally since 1990 were built with stucco.
If stucco is applied incorrectly, however, moisture can seep in through cracks, become trapped inside walls and result in rot that devours structural wood.
Gary Maylon, an Alabama stucco expert and owner of Metal Lath & Stucco Consulting Co., said that based on his experience and a review of some of Johnson County’s newer neighborhoods, 20 percent or more of newer homes built in the Kansas City area with stucco may need substantial repairs.
Maylon’s assessment, given at the request of Johnson County officials at a building seminar in February, was that if area problems continue, they could spawn a wave of lawsuits, since homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover damages from bad stucco.
“There’s going to be some nasty stuff going on here, if it goes on the way it’s going,” he said. Some contractors said they would welcome new stucco standards.
“It’s way past time they did something,” said Carl Brown, a stucco contractor whose own crusade led him to launch a Web site called Badstucco.com.”There are too many untrained people,” Brown said.
Yet as officials attack the problem by developing installation standards, they’re also bracing for a strong reaction from some builders and even some homeowners.
“We expect existing homeowners to be upset this wasn’t done before,” Mallory said.
Damage often unnoticed
Stucco has been a competitively priced alternative to wood, stone facades and masonry for years. And some builders assumed it was easy to apply.
But problems stemming from water intrusion began showing up several years ago, especially in areas experiencing a building boom. They first surfaced in Florida, North Carolina and other eastern states. Locally, some of the first complaints came from Overland Park.
“It started with a house that had over $100,000 worth of damage,” recalled Anderson, the assistant codes administrator. “We weren’t really sure what the problem was at the time.” After more complaints, codes officials focused on stucco – especially around windows that weren’t flashed properly.
Seasoned builders say problems can develop when houses are put up too quickly. Other builders simply cut corners. But inspectors said workmen often just aren’t aware of the complexity of applying stucco in such a way that keeps water out or allows it to escape if it seeps in.
More crews also began using a synthetic stucco that has an acrylic coating and looks like the more traditional and heavier Portland cement stucco that has been used for 50 years or more. Synthetic stucco, however, is spread more thinly, making it more susceptible to cracking if it is not applied correctly over fiber mesh used in securing it to the house.
In addition, the synthetic stucco – known as an exterior insulation and finish system, or EIFS – uses an insulation foam board that can trap moisture inside a wall. If the installers don’t create a drain system for moisture to escape, it remains trapped and begins to rot the structural materials. Oriented strand board – a composite of glue and pressed wood commonly called OSB that’s used in many new homes as structural siding – can soak up moisture like a sponge and crumble into chunks.
Inspectors in Overland Park so far have found improper or missing flashings around windows, bad or missing caulking, poorly installed window assemblies and incorrectly joined lathing under the stucco that causes it to bulge and buckle. New standards call for installing multiple sheets of special paper that allow water to drip away from the wall.
Builders said the problems are more common in newer homes because they are built to be tighter than older homes for energy conservation reasons. Older homes have the advantage of allowing moisture to vent more easily. Inspectors also note that some newer homes are constructed with softer woods that, if not primed and sealed properly, are more vulnerable to moisture.
“Since the rot is taking place from inside of the wall out, it often goes unnoticed for months until it has done substantial damage,” said Dan Bowers, owner of Holmes Inspection and a stucco expert.
That’s what happened to Joe Lambert.
Lambert purchased a $750,000 home in south Johnson County. But when his family, who wanted to stay in their old home, prevailed on him not to go through with the move, he decided to sell the new house. That’s when a private inspector noticed some cracks in the stucco.
“He grabbed a putty knife and literally drove (it) through the OSB board and cut out a two-by-four hole,” Lambert said.
He decided he couldn’t sell the house with a clear conscience without fixing it. As workmen began stripping off stucco, the extent of the damage became apparent. “Around every area of penetration – the gas line, electrical meter, it didn’t matter – there was water damage,” Lambert said. Workmen replaced more than 45 large sheets of OSB board.
“It took a month to fix it. I put it back like it was brand new,” he said.
The cost: $72,000.
Homeowners often are alerted to potential problems only when they see what a neighbor is going through. Roger Campbell, who lives near the home Lambert bought, decided to have his stucco tested, even though he didn’t suspect a problem. He ended up with $60,000 in repairs, which included replacing the synthetic stucco with a traditional style of cement stucco.
“I was very surprised,” Campbell said. “There’s going to be a ton of houses where people are going to wake up to this problem.”
Ben Romano, the owner of Wood Rot Pro who removed and replaced rotted wood on Campbell’s home, is not surprised. Last week, he drove a reporter around Campbell’s neighborhood pointing out possible problems in homes, all priced at more than $500,000, and most less than 10 years old.
At one, where he had already talked to a homeowner, Romano pushed gently against window trim. It gave easily. Had he pushed harder, his finger would have punched through. At another home, he reached behind the stucco and removed a handful of crumbly OSB board.
Romano said business was brisk in some of the area’s toniest neighborhoods. ” he said, using a ”You can’t run out of business with the ‘fungus among us,’ slogan that graces the side of his truck.
No easy answers
When it comes to bad stucco, there’s no good recourse.
Repairs can be costly. And most homeowners’ insurance covers only water damage caused by accidents, such as from a tree falling through a roof or a burst pipe, said Eric Goldberg, assistant general counsel for the American Insurance Association.
Some homeowners persuade their builders to make repairs. But some are reluctant to fix damaged homes after years have passed, said Dan Fowler, the attorney who represented Orr. Fowler said sometimes a homeowner’s only option is to sue. But lawsuits can take years to resolve, and in the meantime the homeowner must make the repairs needed to maintain a house’s structural integrity. And even if they win, homeowners may not recover all their losses.
Orr’s lawsuit forced his builder into arbitration, where Orr won an $85,000 judgment. But $22,000 of that went toward legal expenses.
“I was still out of pocket $40,000,” he said. “That’s retirement money.”
To prevent stucco problems:
– Know your builder. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Talk with residents of other developments built by your builder.
– Check for any lawsuits against your builder. Get a history of your builder’s financial health.
– Talk with your builder. Find out the company’s expertise with stucco. Ask how stucco and window subcontractors are supervised and inspected to ensure proper application and sealing.
– Check out subcontractors. Does the stucco contractor follow accepted standards, including the manufacturer’s guidelines, the International Building Code or the International Residential Code?
– Plan ahead. Discuss what happens if you discover flaws with workmanship.
– Get everything in writing. Make sure contracts state that materials must be installed according to manufacturer instructions and that you must approve material changes.
– Know your rights. Have an experienced real-estate attorney review your contract and warranty.
– Hire a qualified home inspector to check key stages of completion. Inspectors should have insurance against liability errors and omissions.
– Do your homework on water damage. If buying an existing home, get an insurance-claim history.
If you find stucco problems:
– Have your house tested for moisture. Hire someone certified by one of the national construction inspection organizations. Prepare to pay $300 to more than $600.
– If you find damage, document it with photos and a written home inspection.
– Give the builder a chance to fix the problem. Many states require that you notify the builder in writing. Take advantage of any warranties before they expire.
– Get a correction plan in writing. If your builder fails to respond, follow up with complaints to county and state building and regulatory authorities.
– Seek advice from groups such as Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings at www.hadd.com or Home Owners for Better Building at www.hobb.org.
– Your last resort may be to contact a lawyer who specializes in construction-defect lawsuits.