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Thermography for Building Defects Reveals Serious Problems

A simple visual inspection is not enough to early identify the presence of termites, pests and vermin. Often, once you see the signs of pest infestation, it’s already too late or the pests have already done serious sanitary issues and structural damages.

That’s why a Thermographic Inspection is usually performed for early identification. This technology allows for reading the temperature differences on surfaces. It’s possible because infrared cameras can see light in the heat spectrum (our naked eyes don’t see it). With a quick scan of the room or house, we can readily see the “heat map” of the area. The heat map can then be interpreted by a professional to know the possible presence of pests in a certain area.

It’s a non-contact and non-destructive approach to identifying the presence of pests in homes, apartments and commercial buildings. As a result, it’s becoming the preferred way of inspecting buildings for defects.

More access & a more thorough inspection

Visual and manual inspection (which can be unreliable or destructive) can’t provide the whole picture because some areas are inaccessible. For example, a cramped roof space can’t be accessed because of the small space and presence of ducting. Also, termites are good at establishing colonies in areas where humans won’t dare to look or reach.

With a non-contact way to inspect, the entire area will get a more complete assessment. The thermography reports can provide a complete picture of problem areas in the building. In addition, thermal imaging or thermographic inspection is a rapid way to identify other urgent concerns in the structure.

Other applications of thermography for building defects

Aside from early detection of live termite nests and vermin activity in walls, floors and ceilings, thermography is also used to detect other invisible or hidden defects such as:

  • Leaking pipes
  • Blocked drainage and storm water pipes
  • Hot, cold and gas copper pipe joint failures
  • Failed waterproof membranes
  • Missing insulation
  • Loss of heat or cool air through the building
  • Sub Floor moisture causing structural decay of the foundations and timber framing and damp in masonry and plasterwork
  • Faulty Electrical connections from residential main boards, sub-boards, Machinery, Isolator, GPO and Light switches, Circuit breaker resistance

Detecting those problems through thermography is possible because the intensity of the infrared radiation emitted by objects and surfaces is related to temperature. Instead of seeing through walls, thermal imaging cameras read temperature differences. This is valuable information because the property owner or estate manager can promptly plan for maintenance and repairs. This is also to prevent worse structural damages and health issues to the building occupants.

For example, water ingress (entry or infiltration of water) around curtain wall panels can be early established through thermographic inspection. Because of thermography, we can detect the hot and cold air leaks. This signals there’s moisture build-up and condensation, which can encourage mould growth.

It’s also the case when establishing water ingress around windows on pre-cast panels and tilt panels. Other forms of building cladding might allow significant water ingress and harm the structure underneath.

Further implementation of thermography

Homes and buildings with one or few storeys are easy to scan with thermal imaging cameras. But high rises and commercial buildings present unique challenges because of the height, size and lack of accessibility to certain areas.

To address this, aerial thermal cameras are now being used to scan areas that humans can’t reach. One way to achieve this is by setting up a drone with an XT2 thermal camera plus a 30/30 Zenmuse natural light zoom camera. This can make outside inspection faster and much more comprehensive because inaccessible areas will now be reached by the drone and cameras.

In summary, thermography can reveal invisible or hidden problems that actually require urgent attention. Traditional modes of inspection won’t suffice in early detection of those problems (e.g. termite infestation, leaking pipes, missing insulation, faulty electrical).

That’s why here at Sydney Building Defects Inspections and Reports (SBDIR), we use the latest Thermal Technology for early detection of problems. After the inspection, we create comprehensive reports that note the exact areas where the issues are hiding. Contact us today and prevent worse issues through a prompt and comprehensive inspection.