Understanding Thermal or Infrared Energy
Thermal, or infrared energy, is light that is not visible because its wavelength is too long to be detected by the human eye. It's the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that we perceive as heat. Unlike visible light in the infrared world, everything with a temperature above absolute zero emits heat. Even very cold objects, like ice cubes, emit infrared energy. The higher the object's temperature, the greater the IR radiation emitted. An Infrared camera allows us to see what our eyes cannot.
Please note that an Infrared camera is not a magic tool. It cannot determine if a leak will occur in the future if the area has had time to dry out. For example, if there has been no rain for several months, the infrared camera will not detect moisture from a roof leak since no moisture is present. It also cannot detect moisture behind cabinets, furniture, or deep within a structure.
Structurally Sound Inc. uses state of the art test equipment during our Thermal Imaging Inspections. Infrared cameras are used for fast, reliable, accurate building diagnosis and a wide range of building problems, including chronic leaks and moisture problems.
Moisture in building materials can destroy structural integrity and produce mold. Quickly locating and removing all sources of moisture is the first step in moisture problem remediation. By finding variations in temperature, infrared cameras instantly show you what's wet and what's dry.
How does Thermal Imaging work?
Thermography is the use of an Infrared imaging and measurement camera to "see" and "measure" thermal energy emitted from an object. It is not a moisture meter, and does not "see" moisture. The camera helps the inspector see temperature differences and abnormalities which can be caused by moisture. When two areas composed of the same or similar materials experience changing ambient temperatures, the area with the higher thermal mass (usually moisture) will change temperature more slowly. We let water run through the drains of the toilets, sinks, showers, and dishwasher. Depending on the ambient conditions at the house at the time of inspection, we may run hot or cold water. If the house is cold, hot water will show up better than cold water. We may use heating or A/C system to help change the temperatures in the house. The dry areas with less thermal mass will change temperature quickly. Areas with a higher thermal mass, which may include damp areas, will change temperature slower. These differences will be obvious when viewed through the Infrared camera.