Infrared thermography inspection is a revolutionary technology of inspection that involves imaging thermal differences between two adjacent surfaces or spaces. The technology is currently being used in home inspections. It is a very effective technology that allows home inspectors to check for various defects of in-home systems. The technology is used to inspect plumbing, drainage, electrical, and HVAC systems in a home or commercial premise. The technology is used for pest-infestation inspections as well.
Infrared thermography inspection has revolutionized the way these inspections are done. It is quicker and more effective than traditional methods. Infrared thermographic inspections are conducted by authorized and certified home inspectors. While the technology is quite easy to use, it requires a certain level of technical know-how and experience. That’s why getting professional infrared thermographic inspectors is important.
How Does Infrared Thermography Work?
Infrared thermography involves the use of infrared cameras which provide a non-contact way of measuring temperature. The cameras shoot infrared rays, which makes certain spaces or surfaces appear with certain colors depending on the temperature. The colors depicted range over the wavelength spectrum. Different colors indicate different amounts of thermal emissivity.
When infrared thermographic inspectors arrive at your home, they use the cameras to scan every part of your home looking for certain colors depending on what the inspection is for. A thermal emissivity is a form of energy that we perceive as heat. Its wavelength is too long to be seen by the human eye. The infrared cameras are able to catch this emissivity and produce it on a screen as a certain color.
The camera screen appears with distinct shapes of various objects with different colors depending on their thermal emissivity.
Types of Infrared Thermographic Cameras
The home and building inspection industry has not been left behind by the technology boom. As mentioned earlier the infrared thermographic cameras are one of the most impressive technologies in the industry. There are three basic types of infrared thermographic cameras. Each type is best suited for certain applications. A good home or building inspector should show up at your premises with more than one type of infrared thermography camera if they are to do a comprehensive inspection.
Infrared thermographic cameras can either be short-wavelength cameras, mid-wavelength cameras, and long-wavelength cameras. Each of these cameras is used in a different way and require different kinds of maintenance.
Short Wavelength Infrared Cameras
Short wavelength infrared cameras, as the name suggests, are used to detect infrared wavelengths that are on the shorter end. These cameras detect wavelengths in the spectral range of between 0.9 and 1.7 microns. The spectral range is quite close to the visible light spectrum. These are often high-resolution cameras, thanks to the closeness of their spectral range to that of the visible light spectrum. The images produced by these cameras have great contrast and detail as well as less shadow.
Mid Wavelength Infrared Cameras
Mid-wavelength infrared cameras are used to detect infrared wavelengths in the middle range. It is typically a spectral range of between 2 and 5 microns. These cameras also deliver images of high-resolution and give back accurate readings. The images may not be of the same quality as those produced by long-wavelength cameras, but they’re quite decent. These cameras produce images with fewer details than those produced by long-wavelength cameras due to the increased level of atmospheric absorption within the mentioned spectral range.
Mid-wavelength cameras are best used for measuring extremely high temperatures. They are applied in scenarios such as scanning boilers and inspecting single-ply roofs. They also best for inspecting and scanning electrical components.
Long Wavelength Cameras
Long-weekend cameras are the most preferred types of infrared cameras. They produce the best quality and highly detailed images. As the name suggests, these cameras are used to detect infrared wavelengths on the longer end. These cameras typically detect infrared wavelengths of the spectral range of between 7 and 12 microns. This spectral range features low atmospheric absorption, and hence the incredible details in the images produced by the camera. These cameras also have very accurate temperature measurements. Their ability to show temperature differences of adjacent surfaces or species is quite impressive.
Infrared Thermography for Plumbing and Drainage Systems
Infrared thermography is widely used in inspecting plumbing and drainage systems. It is used to detect faults such as leaks, blockages, and corrosion. Infrared thermographic cameras are used to scan plumbing or drainage pipes. As mentioned above, these inspections are banked on the differences in temperature caused by the faults.
For instance, where there is a leak, water will be coming out and wetting the surrounding areas or surfaces. Wet patches tend to absorb more heat than dry ones. As such, these patches will appear with a different color on the infrared imaging camera. They will have a higher thermal emissivity than the surrounding areas.
The same case applies for blockages and corrosion. When a pipe is blocked, it is bound to have a higher temperature at the point of blockage because of pressure. As such, that part of the pipe will appear different from the rest. It would take, severe corrosion for it to be detectable by an infrared thermographic camera. The best way to detect corrosion in a pipe is through drain camera inspections. These inspections involve a small camera that is driven through the pipes in order to detect any flaws that might be inside the pipe.
Infrared Thermography for Electrical Systems
Electrical systems are arguably the easiest to inspect using infrared thermography. Any building with electric power features a network of cables, conductors, and other electrical fittings. All these need to be working in harmony, to ensure energy efficiency and safety. The conductors and electrical fittings are prone to wear and tear though. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to detect a faulty electrical fitting, especially when the electric network seems to be working properly.
Infrared thermography is very effective in detecting faulty electrical fittings and conductors, even when they seem to be working properly. Normally, when a conductor is faulty it creates high resistance to the flow of current at the point of fault. The high resistance causes high temperatures. The temperature differences are often so large that it is quite easy to identify a fault through infrared thermography.
The inspector uses the infrared imaging camera to scan the conductors and the rest of the electrical network. Areas and components with a fault will show very clearly because of their higher thermal emissivity. The inspector is then able to easily mark all the components and fittings need to be replaced.
Infrared Thermography for HVAC Systems
Infrared thermography is very essential when it comes to inspecting HVAC systems. The heating and cooling systems in our homes, enable us to have a comfortable environment regardless of the prevailing weather conditions. However, we need proper management to ensure they do not pause expensive energy bills.
Infrared thermography inspections for HVAC systems cover almost every square inch of the home. It involves scanning the home to ensure there are no heat leaks in the insulation system. The inspection involves inspecting the walls, the floor, and the roof. The inspection is done by ensuring there is a considerable difference between the temperature of the air inside the house and that outside. This allows the movement of air through convection from the point where it’s warm to the cooler spots. Any point that has a leak will show on the imaging camera as a jet of hot air.
Experienced infrared thermography inspectors for HVAC systems all the possible leaks in a building. It makes it easy for them to detect any problems with your hatchback system with the infrared imaging camera.
Infrared Thermography for Pets
As mentioned earlier, infrared thermography is also used to detect pests in a building. It can be used to detect all kinds of pests. From cockroaches to rodents, infrared thermography will tell their exact locations. The same concept of energy emissivity makes it easy to detect these pests. In the case of rodents such as rats and mice, they tend to leave traces of urine behind. The surfaces on which they urinate often are left wet and therefore have a higher thermal emissivity. As we mentioned earlier, surfaces with high moisture tend to absorb more heat and hence have higher temperatures.
Rodents are also big in size and have a very distinct shape. Their bodies also emit heat since they are warm-blooded. They will in most instances, have higher thermal emissivity is than the surrounding areas. The rats and mice will show on the infrared thermal imaging camera as rat shapes with a color indicating a certain level of the bone emissivity. As such, it is easy for home inspectors to note their exact locations from the infrared imaging camera.
Other pests such as cockroaches and ants will also show on the infrared thermographic camera because they move in groups. Ants, in particular, move in a trail and will also cause moisture and higher temperatures. These aspects make it easy for them to be detected. Pest inspectors are experienced and they know what colors and shapes to look for when inspecting your home or a building for certain pests.
Advantages of Infrared Thermography.
As mentioned at the beginning, infrared thermography is the latest trend when it comes to home and buildings inspection. Technology has made it easy for inspectors to provide accurate information and easily detect faults within the various systems in a building. There are many more advantages to the use of infrared thermography over the traditional methods that were previously used. Below are some of the most prominent merits.
Less or no demolitions
The use of infrared imaging cameras involves scanning the various parts of the building from a distance. The inspector scans the pipes or conductors that are behind walls without necessarily having to get behind the walls, above the ceilings, or even below the floor. That means nothing has to be demolished while the inspectors are looking for faults in the systems. You’ve probably had one of your home systems breakdown, and the repairman showed up and had to demolish or dismantle various parts of your home just to be able to find the fault. In most cases, this ends up escalating the cost of repair.
During an infrared thermographic inspection, no demolition or digging out of your backyard is going to be done. Also, the inspectors will clearly mark all the points with faults. Even if the repairman has to demolish or dismantle the fault point during repairs, they will not demolish more than is necessary. That will ensure that there are no unnecessary demolitions and hence fewer costs of repair and maintenance.
Infrared thermographic inspectors will be in and out of your premises in a very short duration. For a home inspection, the inspectors need just a couple of hours to conduct a comprehensive inspection of all the systems in your home. In the same short period, they are able to provide an accurate diagnosis of all the problems with your home.
Quick inspections are impressive because they allow you to catch problems and repair them before they deteriorate. Also, a quick inspection is great when you want to find out the condition of a home you’re seeking to buy. A quick inspection can also help you to quickly sell your house.
We could go on and on about the advantages of infrared thermography. The two mentioned above are just about the most significant. Infrared thermography is the best option if you’re seeking to find out the real condition of your home. It is important that you schedule for periodic inspection of all the systems in your home, to ensure you are living in a safe and healthy environment. Also, you should require an inspection report while buying a house or building. Better yet, you should be present when the house is being inspected so that you can be sure all the systems are in perfect condition.
Infrared thermography continues to improve, and better and more accurate cameras are being produced every day. You can check up with your local authority to find a list of the certified home inspectors around you that have the infrared thermography technology.