Building surveys most likely will include heat loss and damp identification as well as have a quick survey of electrical and mechanical areas of the building if necessary.
The most well-known use for thermal imaging on buildings is the identification of heat loss. Once identified, the heat loss problem can be rectified which will lead to potentially considerable savings.
Thermographic pictures can be taken throughout the building and when analysed areas of concern can be highlighted and will be included in the building survey. These include roofing issues, lack of loft insulation, problems with windows and their frames as well as lack of wall insulation. Examples of these can be seen in the gallery at the bottom of the page.
This survey is extremely useful throughout the life of the building. Initially during the buying and selling of a property, all of any potential issues dealing with the building envelope can be identified using thermal imaging. This will have a direct bearing on the price of the transaction.
During the building’s lifetime thermal imaging can be used to benchmark to ascertain whether there has been any change within the structure. This is extremely useful for maintenance teams as well as insurance cover.
Finally, towards the end of the buildings life a survey will help to identify when the costs of maintenance outweighs the use of the building.
Damp is also a major issue within the building sector. Thermal imaging can identify areas of damp as well as potential water ingress points. By using a thermal imaging camera as well as a humidity meter the consultants can identify where the higher areas of moisture are even if it may not be visible to the naked eye.
This will lead the consultant to find a source of water ingress if that is the situation.
There are two main areas for identifying damp and moisture. First is water ingress from the outside of the building. This can either come from direct water such as rain and other forms of precipitation. This will result in a larger amount of water entering through a break in the building envelope and coursing through the envelope by the path of least resistance and therefore may cause a leak in a totally different area from the initial entry site. By using the thermal imaging camera as well as a moisture meter it is possible to track the course of the water through the structure. In addition to the precipitation there is ground water ingress. This is caused by a gap the building envelope in the tanking or waterproofing proofing of a building. Once again the water will leach through and can rise up the envelope due to capillary action.
The second cause of water problems is internal due to plumbing leaks. It is a lot easier to track hot water leaks but also it is possible to identify cold water leaks as well.
One of the major difficulties when trying to identify problems within electrical systems is the danger associated with the electrical hazard. Thermal imaging allows the equipment to be live and to be able to identify any problems or anomalies within the system without extra risk to the individual.
Thermal imaging can identify many electrical problems as these are generally associated with resistance within the circuit. This resistance will be shown as heat from the largest bus bars to the smallest electrical circuits, they all can be identified using thermography.
In commercial properties it is vital to ensure that the thermographer is also electrically trained and if not should have an electrician to help identify issues as well as used for health and safety. This is doubly important in high-voltage systems.
Thermal imaging for electrical systems is an extremely useful tool for the power industry as issues can be identified from a distance. This negates the need for using specialist equipment and individual protection equipment.
For those industries that use electricity at low voltages but with many distribution boards, the surveys are extremely useful in that in a relatively short timeframe surveys can be conducted and electrical circuits that are proving problematic can be shut down for the shortest possible time. This of course will prevent extended downtime which will result in loss of earnings.
Thermal imaging used for mechanical surveys provides an extra tool in order to get a better picture of pieces of machinery when in use. The benefits of a thermal survey is that the piece of machinery can continue to run and therefore no downtime is required. Furthermore it is in fact better for a thermal survey to be conducted when the equipment is running.
All equipment runs within a heat parameter. Thermal imaging will identify when this heat parameter is exceeded. The consequences of overheated machinery can be potentially catastrophic as well as expensive.
Thermal imaging will give timely information as to whether the equipment is on the point of failure and therefore can be rreplaced within a maintenance programme. This is a good reason for using thermal imaging as a benchmarking exercise. It will help create the parameters for normal functioning equipment and will identify any systems that are overheating.