Thermal Imaging: How Its Used to Detect Leaks

images (13)

According to the Department of Energy, a thermographic scan is an excellent way to detect air leakage in a building. However, it also very useful for discovering water leaks.

Air Leaks
Thermographic scanning uses infrared video and still cameras to measure surface temperatures. That is, these advanced tools view light through the heat spectrum. The resulting images will indicate hot and cold spots. Thus, the individual will be able to determine which areas need more insulation. In fact, some contractors even use thermographic scanners as a quality control tool to verify that the insulation has been properly installed. There are three types of thermographic scanners. First, a spot radiometer that calculates radiation one spot at a time with an easy to read meter that displays that actual temperature. Second, there are thermal line scanners that show the scanned area’s radiant temperature in the form of a line graph superimposed over a picture of the area. Third, a thermal imaging camera is the most accurate device because it produces a detailed two-dimensional thermal picture of the target area with highlighted heat leaks.

In actual fact, a thermographic scan can take place inside or outside the home. However, this depends on the current weather conditions. Inside scans are generally more common and reliable because warm air that escapes from a building rarely moves in a straight line through the wall. As a result, heat loss that appears in one area may actually originate from a different location. Additionally, windy weather makes it more difficult to detect temperature differences on the buildings outside surface. Consequently, most professionals prefer to conduct inside thermographic scans because they are more accurate.

Water Leaks
Thermal imaging can also be used to detect water leaks and intrusions. Water viewed through thermal imaging equipment typically appears as dark blue. Thus, plumbers can detect leaks inside walls before they actually become visible. Thermal imaging equipment also helps to trace the water leak back to the source. In fact, many home inspectors and homeowners are becoming more concerned about the negative effects of mold on human health. Fortunately, thermal imaging equipment can be used to detect mold growth before it becomes a serious health hazard.

According to the International Risk Management Institute (IRMI), many home or building owners only discover moisture buildup when it is too late and has resulted in mold and damage. However, infrared thermography (IT) is one of the best tools to detect the presence of heat or the lack of heat. IT equipment resembles a regular camcorder, but produces a live video stream that displays heat radiation. In fact, expensive models can actually report the exact temperature of any target item or surface.

Going forward, more and more insurance and building inspectors will incorporate thermal imaging equipment into their home inspection routines.