Thermal imaging is a technology that records miniscule variations in the surface temperature of an object on the order of one-quarter of one degree. Images made by a thermal camera show these variations by contrasting the relatively lower temperatures in darker colors and the relatively higher temperatures in lighter colors.
An experienced inspector who is trained in the use of a quality thermal camera can use thermal imaging to enhance the inspection process by detecting conditions that are otherwise unseen. Thermal imaging can help an inspector pinpoint sources of moisture intrusion in roofing and exterior cladding systems. Thermal imaging can also be useful in evaluating structural framing by identifying temperature anomalies that are the result of damages to the framing members.
Thermal imaging can assist an inspector in identifying defects in certain operating systems, such as air leaks in the ductwork of central air conditioning systems or overheating circuits on components of the electrical system.
In our application of this technology we use an Infrared camera with radiographic capacity. This gives us the ability to take a thermal image of an object and be able to tell the temperature of any said point on the image. Employing the technology in this way makes it a powerful diagnostic tool in building science and in preventative maintenance. Not only can we tell that something is overheating, we can say by how much it is overheating. This could very easily make the difference between an emergency shut down or a note for scheduled maintenance.
Applied to building science Thermal Imaging could be the difference between ripping down a wall for a leak only to find a cool draft, or noting a cool draft and sealing the problem. An infrared camera and an experienced operator can find that mystery leak, over heating wiring, various other mechanical and electrical issues.