Infrared Roof Inspection

Why would one do an Infrared Roof Inspection? To find that elusive leak that you just can not seem to locate. Infrared scanning can locate it rather quickly. It can also save you a ton of money. Read on to find out how!

What is infrared? Infrared radiation was discovered in 1800 by the Royal Astronomer for the King of England. He was researching new materials for his lenses and he discovered that there was a type of radiation or energy in light that he could not see. If detected itself as heat only. Now move 200 years forward into the present time. It has been found that infrared radiation (heat) is emitted from almost everything. You can not see it but it's there. You can feel it. When you walk by a building or brick wall, the heat you feel radiating off the wall is infrared radiation!

The amount of infrared that an object emits is dependent on many things. It's thermal mass (how much mass the object has), the object's "emissivity" which is it's ability to radiate infrared and the temperature difference between objects. Heat always flows to cold. If no difference exists, the condition is static, no heat flows. Objects can either emit, reflect or block infrared. Normal window glass blocks the passage of infrared radiation. The greater the thermal mass an object has, the more slowly it gives up it's heat. So now, with these basic concepts in place, we can discuss how thermal or infrared scanning works.

Early on, equipment capable of detecting or "seeing" inferred was large, heavy and expensive. It often weighed several hundred pounds, required liquid nitrogen to cool the detector and took several people to operate it. They were mostly reserved to industry, the government and the military. Between them, they made great strides, improving the equipment gradually until now, entry level cameras are available for under $ 10,000.00 and only weigh a few ounces'. Not a small price to be sure but well within the reach of a small business. Because of their ready availability, they are widely used in industry for "predictive maintenance", "non-destructive testing" and temperature monitoring in inhospitable environments. In the last few years they have been adopted by the home inspection industry for many uses.

In my previous article, I discussed getting an infrared scan for weatherization and moisture detection. Another area that is gaining ground is infrared or thermal roof scans. (I just did one this morning)

Mostly aimed at commercial building flat roofs on factories and warehouses, infrared roof scans are saving millions of dollars in labor and materials for business owners.

These inspections are done in various ways. Direct, "walk-on" with a thermal camera for smaller roofs and by aerial fly-over for larger roofs. The average cost for roof replacement is $ 3- $ 4 per square foot or more depending on the roofing used. On a 100,000 square foot factory, that amounts to $ 300,000 at minimum. Now consider. With a thermal roof scan, the thermographer can pin-point areas of moisture intrusion and only those areas need to be repaired, thus saving the building owner many thousands of dollars. On large building, the savings can be in the millions!

This is environmentally sound thinking, this makes sense. Why dispose of millions of cubic yards of perfectly good roofing in the land fill every year when only part of it actually needed replacing?

Infrared cameras use "color-shifted" images to highlight the thermal differences of the subject target. The dark areas are cooler than the lighter yellow areas. This is due to the higher "thermal mass" of the water soaked insulation and roof deck under the roofing surface "holding" the heat better than the dry areas of a roof.

Mr. Business owner, has your roofer told you that the roof requires a complete replacement or recover? Maybe not! Contact your local thermographer for a thermal scan of your roof today!