Forget the iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and Kindle Fire. The funnest gadget I’ve used for years is … Black & Decker’s Thermal Leak Detector.
The gizmo, which looks like something out of Ghostbusters, uses infra-red technology to detect temperature. The aim’s to pinpoint cold spots in your home, so you know where to insulate.
It sounds complex, but it’s easy-peasy to use. Simply hold the gadget like a pistol, press the trigger and move it slowly around surfaces. It shines an infrared beam that flashes blue for cold, green for normal and red for warm.
I’ve prowled my whole flat wielding the device, and it’s fascinating stuff. It’s flagged up chilly cupboards, brutally cold walls and draughts wailing through letterboxes. In the spirit of enquiry, I’ve zapped radiators (67˚C), the inside of my fridge (4˚C), and snow (-1˚C).
Some Amazon reviewers even use it to detect ghouls in séances. I’m not sure about that, but it would be fab to take on second house viewings.
The Thermal Leak Dectector cost £28.50 when I bought it on Amazon. This is pricier than the old-school draught-spotting method of moving a candle around the house to see where the flame gutters. Yet they sell for £25+ on eBay, so you could do a quick insulation audit, then flog it.
The device has its limitations. The blurb warns its sensor can give fake readings on shiny surfaces such as tiles.
I’m on an insulation mission at the moment. We’ve been slowly renovating a draughty Victorian flat room by room, so this helps to plan insulation as we go.
Here’s some of the pricey heat leakage I’ve detected so far. This experiment was done with an outside temperature of 1˚C, and room temperature of 15.8˚C.
- Cold. Front door (5˚C). I was horrified to see an arctic wind whistling through the letterbox, keyholes and door sides. I’m looking for brushes to fix to the bottom and draught strips.
- Cold. Chimney breast (11.2˚C). Another trouble spot is the wall above our open, unused fireplace. Cold air’s blustering down, so I’m investigating an inflatable chimney balloon to keep the heat in.
- Cold. Bottoms of cupboards (10.1˚C). We are paying the price for putting in built-in cupboards in our living room without filling the floorboard cracks underneath. I’ve put some old fleeces down – any better ideas greatly received.
- Cold. Wooden floorboards (12.8˚C). Although we plugged floorboard gaps with filler, cold is still sneaking through. Not rocket science, but a reminder that rugs help keep the chill off.
- Warm. Internal walls (15.8˚C). We’ve been watching telly with an icy draught blowing down our necks from a 10.2˚C external wall. A free solution was to just move the sofa to a warmer internal wall (15.8˚C).
- Warm. Insulated external wall (14.9˚C). A few months ago, we fitted thermal insulation boards to the solid walls in the kitchen, as we were re-plastering anyway. I was chuffed to see the kitchen’s external walls now read 14.9˚C , compared with (10.2˚C) for other external walls.
- Warm. Insulated floorboards (15.1˚C). We also lifted the kitchen floorboards and put foam board insulation between the joists. These now read (15.1˚C), compared with 12.8˚C for other non-insulated floorboards. Toasty!
Have you tried this tool? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below or in the forum discussion.