Thermal Imaging Technology
We can use thermal imaging cameras to diagnose a variety of problems by scanning the floors, walls and ceilings when walking from room to room during an inspection.
The camera we use (FLIR One Pro) attaches to any device (tablet or mobile phone) to create a very powerful, thermal imaging camera. It produces an image on the screen with colours corresponding to different temperatures on the visible surface. The camera is very, very sensitive and differentiates between minute differences in temperature, which can help to pinpoint any specific problems. The colours range from red showing the highest temperatures, graduating down through yellow and green to blue.
Damp & Condenstation
The thermal camera is used as an addition to a standard damp meter. When carrying out an inspection, I normally give the room a quick scan and this will show up cold areas which will normally indicate sub-standard insulation or if it is in a wall, it often indicates a damp area, as cooling causes condensation to form. Damp areas in a wall will normally be cooler than dry areas because evaporation of a liquid causes cooling. Similarly, cold areas on a wall will normally be prone to condensation as the lower temperature causes moisture in the air to condense on the cold surface. Therefore, dampness in a wall is often self-perpetuating. This form of dampness was often misdiagnosed as rising damp in the past, and the remedial works would often be disruptive and expensive, requiring the installation of a chemical injection damp proof course and large-scale re-plastering. Now it is possible to diagnose the problem more accurately and the remedy for condensation is simply better ventilation and improved heating or insulation.
The camera can also be used to identify areas in need of improved insulation. Inside a room, it is possible to identify areas of a ceiling which are not covered by loft insulation or parts of a wall lacking cavity wall insulation. Both will create cold spots which could be prone to condensation and mould growth. Externally, a badly insulated loft will show the roof of a property glowing red, indicating the heat loss through the roof, whereas a well-insulated loft will show a yellow, green or even blue roof.
Drain Access Runs
Another benefit of the camera is its ability to find drain runs and drain access covers. Drain runs will often show up as a faint blue line on the surface and hidden man hole covers can be clearly visible when covered by grass or debris.
The camera will also indicate defective electrical sockets or overloaded fittings as these glow red, even when supposedly switched off, indicating that they are at a higher temperature than they should be, and will show as bright red.
Find out more about THERMAL IMAGE SURVEYS
Using a Thermal Imaging Camera significantly helps me to accurately diagnose building problems and specify remedial works, often with significant savings to the client both in terms of total cost and disruption to their home. We are always keen to employ the latest technologies to ensure our Survey Reports are as effective and informative as possible.
By Ian D. Frost, Regional Chartered Surveyor – North-East