What is Thermal Imaging?
Infrared thermal imaging (IR) Thermography is a noninvasive inspection process that provides intuitively understandable data having a much higher degree of accuracy and reliability than other moisture detection technologies. The technology uses thermal energy to detect and show temperature differences of a material. Thermal IR energy is a wavelength that is not visible to the human eye. It is the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we perceive as heat. Every material has a unique thermal signature and when moisture, heat, cold, or wood destroying organisms are introduced to the structure, the thermal signature changes. Through the use of an infrared camera, we detect these very small temperature differences and interpret the results.
We use this technology as one of many tools to help evaluate the condition of residential and commercial structures. With an infrared camera, relatively large areas such as ceilings, roofs and walls, can be scanned to isolate suspect areas.
Applications of IR Thermography:
The increased use of stone, stucco, brick veneers and siding as facades on residential as well as commercial buildings invites the possibility of water intrusion if they are not properly installed. Thermography can detect or verify moisture infiltration in these weatherproofing ‘barrier’ systems, usually the result of insufficient detailing such as inadequate or improperly applied flashing or sealants. In addition, IR can monitor and track moisture migration paths within the wall cavity.
Insulation and Air Leaks
Nondestructive detection of missing, moisture-laden or otherwise damaged insulation in walls, crawlspaces and attics is another application. All of these conditions can increase a building’s energy costs by allowing cold air to enter the building and heated air to escape in the winter, and the reverse in the warmer months.
Faulty electrical mechanical and HVAC
Thermography is very effective at detecting overloaded circuits, faulty wiring, and loose electrical connections, which generate heat, and can pose serious fire hazards. Mechanical problems such as worn pumps, motors, and bearings in fans, compressors, and furnaces. HVAC components such as refrigerant leaks, defects in furnace heat exchangers and flues.
Roof leaks can cause costly damage to a building’s contents and discomfort to its inhabitants. An infrared inspection can quickly identify missing or moisture-soaked insulation under a flat roof membrane where the insulation needs replacement, permitting the surgical repair of failed areas rather than the much more costly replacement of the entire roof.
What Thermal imaging is not
While this technology is powerful in aiding the detection of wet or moisture-damaged areas, it is not a moisture meter, and it is not Xray glasses that will reveal every discrepancy. Also, many variables can affect the process such as time of day, differences between interior and exterior temperatures, type of materials and other factors. The technology requires a professionally trained (Certified Level I, II or III) thermographer to determine appropriate conditions, interpret the information and identify areas that may require further investigation.
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