Infrared Energy Detection. An infrared camera is a non-contact device that detects infrared energy (heat) and converts it into an electronic signal, which is then processed to produce a thermal image on a video monitor and perform temperature calculations. Heat sensed by an infrared camera can be very precisely quantified, or measured, allowing you to not only monitor thermal performance, but also identify and evaluate the relative severity of heat-related problems. Infrared imaging provides important information relating to otherwise inaccessible areas of a residential building. Infrared detects extremely small but crucial differences in temperature from one area of a house to another. These temperature variations show up on the camera’s view screen as “cold” or “hot” spots, which reveal hidden problems that often cannot be detected in the course of a traditional visual inspection.
Examples of InfraRed Applications for Building Inspections!
•Water intrusion: scanning interior surfacesof a building with an infrared camera can reveal excess moisture due to plumbing leaks, roof leaks, leaks around windows, etc. Wet areas of building materials cool when energy is transferred during the water evaporation process; therefore, a wet (“cooler”) area will stand out from the surrounding dry (“warmer”) surface. •Insulation deficiencies: appreciable temperature differences, due to variations in thermal energy (heat) transfer, allow for detection of deficient or missing insulation when scanning ceiling and wall surfaces. •Roofing leaks: scanning roof coverings can reveal water intrusion and accumulated moisture below the surface. Due to its thermal properties (high thermal capacity), water typically gives up heat at a much slower rate than the surrounding roof materials. The areas of accumulated moisture can therefore be detected when scanning the roof surface. This type of roof inspection is best done in the evening or early nighttime after thermal energy imparted during the daytime is transferred or released. •Electrical systems: deficiencies within the electrical system can be made visually apparent by use of an infrared camera. For example, a deficient connection between electrical components can result in resistance which will manifest in an apparent temperature elevation when compared with similar types of connections under similar load conditions. •Structural issues: differences in thermal capacity, conductivity, and other intrinsic qualities of building structural components can allow for their detection when scanning walls, floors, and ceilings with an infrared camera. Under the right conditions, missing structural components, and portions of structural components which are damaged (to the extent that their intrinsic qualities are significantly changed), can be detected.
Although infrared thermal imaging is a far better diagnostic tool than the naked eye, it does not guarantee 100% accuracy, unless removal or destruction of components can be achieved to validate findings. When possible, other tools are used to verify thermal images, but even with these considerations we do not claim to have x-ray vision. Conditions may change and cause the apparent temperatures revealed on thermal images to be different at any given time.
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