June's Stump the Chump: What's Wrong with this Picture?

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The image below was taken by Matt Schwoegler, a thermographer and infrared instructor with the Snell Group. Matt was on location in Vermont, helping to train a weatherization crew from the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) which was already working on the home. The room in question was used by the homeowner as a three-season porch/bedroom. Matt explains that this portion of the home appeared to be an addition to the original structure, and was likely moved to the home's location where it was connected to the main house.

During the infrared training and building inspection, which was taking place in warm weather conditions, Matt found what appeared to be an insulation level on the wall in this room. While the ceiling appeared to be uninsulated, what was happening with the wall was not as clear.

So, what's wrong with this picture?

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Nothing is wrong.  The back wall is common to the house and it is cool in the house.  The angled wall below the ceiling is warmer because it is partially thermally connected to the hot attic.

Isn't the IR image the same exterior wall as in the visible image?

Looks like someone framed in a garage doorway, insulated the new framing, did not insulate the upper section of the wall to the same degree, and probably didn't insulate the ceiling.


If it were the same exterior wall we wouldn't be able to see the uninsulated ceiling. I believe this is an interior shot.  Good call on the old framed garage door opening, but that would support my interpretation.

Take a look at the exterior shot. The plywood is covering what is probably a wide door opening that's being altered, possibly a garage door, possibly a slider. The opening is offset to the right of the ridge. In the IR, it looks to me like it's the same opening, now offset to the left of the ridge, and the window is just out of sight at the right edge of the image.

Of course, you could be right and we're looking at the house, but I'm not sure why we wouldn't be able to see the uninsulated ceiling if that were the case.

In either case, I'm wondering if there is/was an adequate header for the opening (or was it removed), and why there isn't a post aligned under the ridge. Sloppy framing seems likely, along with inconsistent insulation. Looks like a small accessory building was moved there and joined to the house, which seems like a lot of salvage work for what was gained.

There's probably more... have to wait to find out, I guess.

Hi Mike,

The first problem with the picture is, it isn't clear what it is a picture of.  Is that an inside IR looking at the house, or looking back out at those (?) windows, or whatever is behind the plywood?


Wild guess-That unpainted plywood is an exstra surface

Well the first thing they teach you at Snell is to say "it appears that"

With that - it is a shot of the inside as you can see the solar loading on the roof & the rafters

As for the rest, well it could be insulated the same and the light colored board is reflecting some of the heat, different insulation level, or a host of other items - anyone got a hammer? (as for the exterior shading you see - they didn't say that the 2 shots were taken at that exact moment)

The colder spot could be caused by a gap between the boards where it appears that they did frame in a doorway



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