How Infrared Tools Detect Heat Loss in Roof Inspections

Are you concerned about heat loss and rising energy bills due to poor insulation or roofing?

Discover how infrared tools can detect heat loss during roof inspections and help you identify areas of improvement to reduce energy costs and improve the comfort of your home or building.

When it appears as a dark, wet stain on the ceiling or a wall, just about anyone can spot a moisture leak. Such leaks will often see water dripping or trickling, making it even more visible. However, detection of roof leaks needs the help of professionals when it’s hidden or the naked eye can’t see it. Home inspectors are increasingly using infrared tools to detect these issues in your roof that may emerge as major problems if ignored.

How Does Infrared Inspection of Roofs Work? 

Infrared technology or thermal imaging involves using devices capable of detecting light on the infrared spectrum, which the human eye is unable to catch. In other words, this technology works by detecting the variations in infrared light, which occur depending on the heat released by the surface of an object.

Home inspectors can locate leaks by detecting a wall or roof’s infrared signature using thermal imaging cameras. During the day, the surface of the roof heats up with the sun beating down on it. In the night, the heat is radiated back into the air by the roof.

However, the cooling is slower in areas with moisture. Thermal imaging cameras reveal the warmer areas, which identify the areas where moisture collection occurs, the roof’s under layer, or the insulation.

Why are Infrared Devices Popular? 

It’s not difficult to gauge why infrared cameras are popular among home inspectors using these devices extensively for roof inspections. It’s because thermal imaging cameras are-

  • Portable and lightweight
  • User friendly giving accurate results very fast
  • Non-destructive and non-invasive
  • Capable of timely detection of the smallest of leaks preventing them from becoming a significant problem later
  • Capable of carrying out thorough testing of areas that have been damaged or compromised
  • Capable of presenting a visual display of the leaks

Other Uses of Infrared Cameras

The uses of thermal imaging cameras go much beyond just detecting moisture incursions or leaks. The variations in heat signatures are noted by home inspectors, which help them judge the energy efficiency of homes. It helps them locate areas where the heat is escaping from so that corrective action can be taken. Detection of other structural, foundational, or mechanical issues is possible with thermal imaging cameras, which, if left unaddressed, may cause costly problems later.

However, Infrared Technology Has Its Flaws

Infrared cameras can only be effective if they are used properly and when their data interpretation is accurate. An infrared inspection’s accuracy may be affected when, for example, multiple insulation types are present on the same roof with differing R-values and absorption features. Again, a thermal imaging camera’s readings may be distorted by any vegetation, debris, dirt, gravel, or bitumen present on the roof. Infrared cameras spot leaks by measuring heat. Wind, lights, steam plumes, pipes, or air exhausts near the roof influence the temperature calculations. This is why you should always hire a certified thermographer to carry out such inspections, preferably carrying a level 2 certification.

How You Should Carry Out the Inspection

Here are some best practices you should follow if you seek to use thermal imaging technology for home inspections- 

  • To ensure that your results aren’t swayed by false readings, before carrying out the inspection, make yourself aware of the properties the home’s roof-covering has.
  • There may be areas in the roof that have been patched up with material different from the original roof. Identify those areas, if any, before starting the inspection.
  • Avoid conducting the test when the wind speed exceeds 15 mph.
  • Make sure that rain, dew, other moisture, or snowmelt hasn’t made the roof wet.
  • Try to ensure that you begin the inspection at dusk when the temperature starts dropping considerably to raise the possibility of getting accurate readings.
  • Advise your customers that they include an infrared inspection to their annual checklist of home inspection

Take the Roof Material into Account

Thermal inspection of roofs can be carried out the best if they are built from common materials like composite boards, organic fibers, fiberglass, or polystyrene. It can be challenging to read the infrared images if the roof is made of gypsum or other highly reflective materials. Infrared inspection can’t be carried out on inverted roofs where polystyrene insulation is present between the ballast and the protective membrane.

A Vital Element

Infrared thermal inspection of any roof is an initial and very important element of it. Trained professionals read the images after scanning. Verification using other software and equipment is also done. The images that are given by the IR camera make it easier for the homeowner to understand any issues that his roof may have.

After the inspection is complete, a written report is given to the homeowner, which includes the inspection’s findings, including the general condition of the roof and what issues were found in the inspection. The report also mentions the solutions for the problems detected during an inspection.

The Necessary Conditions

There are certain conditions needed for successful thermal imaging of roofs, such as

  • It must be a sunny day
  • The roof’s surface must be dry during sunrise
  • There’s no rain
  • The temperature in the day should be higher than 40°F
  • The inspection should be carried out at least 1 ½ to 2 hours after the sun has set

A preliminary survey must be conducted before the actual inspection to gauge how your roof responds to the weather.


Thermal imaging inspection of roofs is beneficial in locating issues that may exist in any roof. It’s a very effective tool used by home inspectors to gauge how good a roof is. A professional home inspector with proper knowledge of infrared inspection of homes can present well-made reports that present a clear picture of the condition of a roof. If used optimally, considering the ideal conditions for it, an infrared inspection of roofs can prevent major costly repairs by addressing issues on time.

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