The onset of thermal imaging in the inspections industry was a game-changer. What’s more exciting it that thermal imaging technology continues to improve with every daylight. Today, thermal imaging is much easier to use, and they are a lot more accurate than they were a few years back.
What is thermal imaging? You might wonder!
Thermal imaging is a form of inspection technology that is banked of heat differences and changes. It involves the use of cameras that have the capacity to capture heat images or maps. In this piece, we are going to explore how this technology is essential in identifying heat loss.
Let’s dive right in.
Inspecting Buildings for Heat Loss
Everyone would want to be in a warm and cozy room at all times. Those who live in very cold places have to go the extra mile and warm up their homes and buildings artificially. It costs money to be able to do that. As such, the last thing you need under such circumstances is the heat being generated getting lost. Majority of houses and buildings have insulation to prevent heat loss.
Before we get to exploring how thermal imaging can be used to detect heat loss, let’s first explore the way in which heat gets lost.
Ways in Which Heat is Lost of a Building
We’ve already mentioned that homes are insulated to ensure there is no heat loss. The insulation, for one reason or the other, might start leaking. It may also have been installed wrongly. Such insulation will cause heat loss from the house.
Leaking pipes are another common cause of heat loss from the home. When pipes leak the water is going to accumulate somewhere in the house. Pipe water is usually cold and will be quick to absorb any heat that is within the surroundings. The result is cold and humid air in the house. Apart from making the house cold when it should be warm, damp air can cause breathing difficulties for those in the house. It also makes the people inside the house prone to infections.
These are the two most common causes of heat loss in a home or building. During inspections, the inspector is usually looking for faults of this kind in the house. The question is; how does thermal imaging make it possible for inspector to catch these faults? Keep in mind that the faults will in most cases not be visible with naked eyes. For instance, if the issue is leaking pipes, it is going to be quite a while before you note that the pipe is leaking when it is inside the walls.
Let’s now get to it.
How Does Thermal Imaging Detect Heat Loss?
We’ve defined thermal imaging, and we’ve explained what heat loss in a building is all about. The relationship between the two should be quite obvious. During heat loss, heat is moving from inside to outside the house. At the point where the heat is coming out, there is definitely a significant difference between the air flowing out from the house, and that already outside. The air from the house is a lot warmer than that outside. Thermal imagers are able to capture this heat difference.
Thermal imaging cameras have a screen on which they display heat images or maps captured. Heat changes of flow are in the form of what is known as infrared radiation. This radiation is what the camera captures. Different temperature levels have different intensities of infrared emission. As such, surfaces with different temperatures will be shown with different colors on the screen of the imaging camera.
Thermal imaging is, therefore, able to capture any point through which heat is getting lost from the house. An inspection needs to be conducted within the right condition in order for these faults to be caught..
Now that we have a better perspective of how thermal imaging works, we are going to get into the nitty-gritty of how Thermal imaging captures the various faults that cause heat loss. We will also explore why thermal imaging is a superior inspection technology as compared to all the other technologies available.
Thermal Imaging in Insulation Inspection
We’ve already mentioned that one of the major causes of heat loss is faulty insulation. Thermal imaging is very effective when it comes to detecting a problem with your home’s insulation. Insulation is usually everywhere in your house. It is inside the walls and ceilings. The aim is to check where there are any points that are leaking.
So, how is the inspection done?
The insulation in your home is should be inspected when the air outside the house is considerably colder than that inside. The idea is to ensure the air in the house remains warm and cozy. This difference in air temperature causes the air inside the house to flow star flowing outside, while the cold air outside flow inside through any cracks or insulation faults that might be there.
Inspection involves scanning the house using the infrared thermographic camera. The camera has a screen that will clearly show heat differences. On the camera, leaking insulation will show as a jet of warm air. Since the air is warmer than the surroundings, it will appear with a different color on the camera’s screen.
The scanning should be done from outside and inside as well. When scanning from outside, the scanning usually concentrated on the upper side of the building. That because of air convection movements. Warm air is lighter and rises towards the upper side of the building. As such, any warm air escaping from the building is more likely to be coming out from any insulation leaks that might be on the upper side of the building.
While scanning from the inside, more attention is paid on the lower side of the building. Any streams of cold air coming in will use any spaces that are on the bottom side of the building. The scan is usually quite quick but also comprehensive. Any leaks, faults, or cracks that might be causing heat loss are captured within minutes.
How Does Thermal Imaging Detect Pipe Leaks?
Thermal Imaging is also quite effective when it comes to detecting pipe leaks. We have already gone through how pipe leaks cause heat loss. Apart from heat loss, you do not want your walls, whether wooden or concrete to be absorbing water. The water is going to compromise the structural integrity of the walls.
Obviously, where water has accumulated, the area is going to be damp. Interestingly, these damp areas tend to be warmer than the surrounding areas. Wet areas will absorb heat from the surroundings and become warmer. When scanned, the wet patches will appear different on the screen of the thermographic graphic camera.
Inspection for leaking pipes is done in the same way that inspection for insulation faults is done. The inspector will scan the whole building for any wet patches on the walls. If there is any part of the walls that appear different from the rest, the inspector will want to take a closer look at it. The inspection is best done when the weather is cold so that the wet areas will be considerably warmer than their surroundings. It is much easier to image the surroundings under such circumstances.
So, what happens next when the heat loss spots are detected?
Obviously, you need to get any leaks that might be there repaired to ensure that you do your house does not keep losing heat. When such faults are repaired, you will note a considerable change of the temperature in your house. If you use electricity to heat up your house, you will note your energy bills reduce after the repairs have been done.
Now that we’ve understood how thermal imaging works, let’s now explore why thermal imaging is superior to all the other inspection methods.
Benefits of Using Thermal Imaging for Heat Loss Detection
There is a lot of benefits to using thermal imaging over the other technologies. First, thermal imaging inspections can be done by anyone. Thermal imaging inspection is not rocket science. With a little bit of guidance, you will understand what is required, and you will be able to detect any faults that your house might have. However, in a situation where a formal inspection report is required, it may be prudent to seek the services of a certified inspector.
Thermal imaging also makes it easy to conduct house inspections. Unlike other inspection methods, thermal imaging does not require you to do any demolitions in order to access the parts being inspected. Thermal imaging allows you to take images for specific object even when they are not visible with naked eyes. For instance, you might be inspecting pipes that are hidden from view by walls of ceilings. You will not have to take down the walls or ceilings in order to access the pipes. The only condition required for thermal imaging to be possible is temperature differences.
The other benefit of thermal imaging is that it is precise and accurate. Thermal imaging will ensure no fault is left behind. In particular, it is very accurate when you are inspecting your home for heat loss. The spots where the heat loss is happening, have significant heat differences, and hence are easy to capture.We could go on and on about the benefits of thermal imaging, but there is no doubt that it is a great and effective inspection technology.
Last but not least, we are going to explore the various indicators that your house is suffering heat loss. These are the aspects that you should look out for. They should prompt you to commission a thermographic imaging inspection on your home.
Heat Loss Indicators
The first and most obvious indicator is a surging energy bills. If you note your energy bills have significantly gone beyond what you are used to and you haven’t brought in any new appliances or changed anything in the way you consume energy, it is time to commission a heat loss inspection. We’ve have already gone through how heat loss will cause your energy bills to rise significantly. We need not mention that the inspection and repairs will save you from incurring huge energy expenses once again.
The other heat loss indicator is house temperature. If you realize that your house is become cooler and you have not made any changed to your heating systems, you most likely need to get your home inspected. If you house starts leaking, the temperature is going to always be lower than normal, and you will have at times have to keep turning up your heater. If the heat loss is significant, your house is going to get cooler almost immediately.
The other heat loss indicator are wet patches in your home. Recall that have explored the effects of pipe leaks as far as the warmth in your house is concerned. At times, it will take time before you note that your pipes are leaking. The water keeps seeping into the walls of the house, and wet patches will develop on the walls. If you come across any of these, it is more than likely that your house is losing heat. It should be reason enough for you to do a thermographic inspection. After all, thermal imaging is not an expensive method of inspection.
Thermal imaging and energy conservation
Heat loss in a building results in inefficient energy consumption. In fact, when a building loses heat, it not only causes discomfort to those inside it, it causes great energy loss as well. This makes detection of heat loss in buildings using thermal imaging all the more important, more so considering the major rise in energy consumption we have been experiencing over the years globally. The trend is to continue in the years ahead. We share the figures with you-
While heat energy consumption has been rising, it has been noted that by implementing proper energy saving measures in the INPP region, the potential saving of energy could be around 25% of the heat energy finally consumed. That translates into around 90,000 MW h/year.
The need of the hour therefore is to have smart buildings. Low power thermal sensor arrays shall help raise energy efficiency by making sure that the lighting both indoors and outdoors can be adjusted depending on whether or not people are present. It’ll also allow optimized temperature control. This will be made possible after allocation of energy to heating and lighting on an as needed basis. Detecting activity presence with compact thermal imagers makes such efficient use of heating and lighting possible.
Thermal imagers by detecting the presence of humans in a building help know when the heating or lighting in a particular area needs to be turned on and when it can be turned off. Such efficient use of energy helps in considerable savings in the energy bills that can benefit especially commercial properties. Besides, it goes without saying that efficient energy consumption goes a long way in protecting the environment by limiting the emitting of harmful gases.
In summary, there is a lot of exciting aspects about thermal imaging. As mentioned in the beginning, it is a technology that continues to grow with each daylight. It is a technology that has become a favorite for many in the industry. You can be certain that it is a process that will capture any faults that might be in your house. Thermographic imaging is a technology that is not going to become outdated anytime soon. If anything it has kept going taking the center stage, and has become a standard in the home inspections industry. There is not surprise given that there is no other inspection method can match up to thermal imaging.