Advancements in technology must constantly make way for new and cost-efficient techniques, especially when it comes to building inspections. Visual inspections may not be fully sufficient because not all corners of a structure are accessible. Tools such as thermal imaging come in handy when you are looking for a more precise pre-purchase building inspection.
What is thermal imaging?
Thermal imaging is a technique used in various fields, including medicine, forensics, navigation, and building inspections. It involves testing of parts, materials, or systems via imaging of the thermal patterns of the object. It is a non-damaging and non-intrusive form of imaging.
When compared to other kinds of non-destructive testing techniques like ultrasonic testing and radiographic testing, thermal imaging is safe, non-intrusive, and non-contact. It allows shallow subsurface defects under large surfaces to be detected immediately.
Techniques in thermal imaging: how does thermal imaging work?
Thermal imaging involves the use of thermographic cameras. These thermographic cameras usually detect long-range infrared radiation and produce images based on that radiation. All objects that have temperature emit infrared radiation, making it possible to see one’s environment with or without visible illumination. The higher the object’s temperature, the greater the amount of radiation emitted by the object. This allows us to see differences in temperature.
Warm objects become distinguishable against cooler objects and backgrounds when viewed using a thermal imaging camera. For example, humans and other warm-blooded animals become quite visible even in the darkest nights. Because of this, thermography is particularly useful to the military and other users of surveillance cameras. This basic principle also allows us to detect minute temperature changes that are not visible to the naked eye.
What can thermal imaging detect?
Many companies in Australia now make use of thermal imaging for residential, commercial, and industrial building inspection. It is cost-efficient because it can detect damage before it becomes huge problems. This includes:
· Roof leaks
Water leaking through the roof can be a sign of major building damage. However, this damage becomes more complicated as water can run through several areas of your building, causing damage which is often difficult to trace.
Thermal imaging can show areas of excessive moisture where water has pooled or where its outflow may be present. These areas may be far away from the perforated roof and can remain unnoticed until major damage has already occurred. The defects can also gradually affect the structural integrity of your building until a heavy downpour of rain or other causes makes the damage noticeable.
· Shower leaks
Shower leaks cause damage quite similar to roof leaks. These might be considered as simple defects with signs easily ignored, but they can actually cause major structural damage as well as health issues. Moisture from a shower leak can lead to the growth of moulds beneath your walling surface. Minor damage like this is actually quite common in Australian homes and buildings and is often disregarded by building owners until it is much too late.
· Defective insulation
Recent advancements have brought about technology to improve energy efficiency in Australian homes. Installation of insulation does not come cheap, which is why its use must be maximised.
Thermal imaging is one of the best methods to see how your insulation is working. It can easily detect deficiencies and the flow of temperature within your home. Thermographic inspection can report heat conduction between your structural materials. Common defects include poorly installed insulation, which allows air to pass through especially in the corners. Another is the use of inappropriate materials and dimensions. These are a common problem if insulation is installed by someone who is not reliable or qualified.
· Termite infestation
Termites are one of the most difficult things to find in an inspection and are also among the leading causes of heavy damage. A quarter of Australian homes are affected by termites. The damage they do can cause thousands of dollars in repair costs. Termites are difficult to find because they can avoid the naked eye. They silently damage the inner structure of your building, most especially the wooden structures such as roof and walls.
Why invest in thermal imaging?
Now that we’ve discussed the several uses of thermal imaging, it is also important to ask, why should I spend on thermal imaging? Is the added cost on my building inspection worth the price? Here are the advantages we must keep in mind if considering thermal imaging:
· A non-intrusive method of inspection
Thermal imaging can capture the depths of your building without any destruction. Different parts made of various materials can be viewed, from plastic pipes, shafts, dry wall, and even metal frames.
· Cost-efficient in the long run
Thermal imaging cameras and equipment are usually expensive, which can make thermographic inspection quite costly. However, the price of routine inspection or thermal imaging before purchasing a home is still cost-effective. It can help you save thousands of dollars in major building repairs if defects are detected early on. The cost may also vary depending on the pixel array. Fewer pixels may affect the quality of the image; most of the time, however, the large pixel size is only necessary to detect more specific defects in a building.
· Covers a large area and is time-efficient
Thermal imaging is not just cost-efficient but is also time-efficient, as a single image can assess an area as large as your entire home or building. It is a large-scale viewing tool which inspectors can utilise to provide a general overview of your building. This can help them focus on inspecting more relevant areas instead of checking on every corner.
Trained building inspectors for thermal imaging
It is essential to hire the services of a skilled and experienced professional, especially when it comes to thermographic inspections. Different materials have different emissivity values. This is why interpretations will vary depending on the structural materials of your building. To ensure that your spending is not wasted, seek the services of reliable building inspectors.
Hire Exceptional Building Inspections for a comprehensive assessment
Looking at the structure and integrity of a building will take more than just a skilled inspector’s naked eye. That is why at Exceptional Building Inspections, we use modern tools and equipment to provide a comprehensive and accurate inspection of your building. Contact us now to know more about how thermal imaging can be incorporated into your building inspection.