Thermal Imaging in building inspection

What is Thermal Imaging and termatrac termite detector

Thermal imaging is a non-destructive defect testing technique that can pinpoint moisture, electrical and energy efficiency issues in homes and buildings.

Besafe Property Inspections uses a FLIR infrared camera as a supplementary tool for our building diagnostics services. Infrared thermography is the quickest and most definitive way to detect moisture, energy losses and electrical issues in your home. Thermal camera investigations are non-destructive and can provide you with valuable information on a variety of structural issues. We provide thermal photography services to private homes, commercial buildings and schools.

The Termatrac Termite detector has revolutionized the practice of professional termite detection by combining the three critical technologies required to competently and efficiently detect, locate and confirm the presence of termites:

What can a thermal camera detect in my home?

  • Moisture in wall structures
  • Rising and lateral damp problems
  • Building envelope leaks
  • Mould in inaccessible cavities
  • Water migration
  • Water damage on internal decks
  • Thermal signatures of latent moisture
  • Poorly installed or inadequate insulation
  • Air leaks in the building envelope
  • Pipe location prior to drilling
  • Electrical overloads
  • Substandard sealing work

How does a thermal camera work?

All objects emit heat. This heat (thermal energy) is not visible to the human eye and needs to be measured under the infrared spectrum. A thermal imaging camera measures this heat and constructs an image of the emissions.

How do I know my house has mould or rising damp?

Rising and lateral damp is a major problem in many Tasmanian buildings, especially those built on steep sites with habitable rooms below ground level. Unfortunately, many buildings are constructed with sub-standard waterproofing and drainage systems in place. Damp problems can be costly to repair, but can lead to structural damage and health issues if left unchecked. Besafe Property Inspections uses a combination of inspection techniques and tools to definitively determine the cause and source of moisture ingress.

How can I find leaks or blockages in my water pipes?

Thermal imaging is an effective tool to locate and check pipes and ducting for leaks and blockages. This is a non-invasive process that is used when water pipes are concealed in floor or wall cavities.

The Myth Busted

While conducting thousands of inspections, we have researched numerous technologies. Several years ago we adopted thermal imaging to enhance our inspections.

Unfortunately, there have been outrageous thermal imaging claims from unscrupulous operators which has created widespread misconceptions about the capabilities of Thermal Imaging.

Thermal imaging is neither a magical device nor a guarantee of finding hidden defects and termite activity despite the claims of some inspectors who mislead people into believing that thermal cameras can “see” inside walls. Basically, a thermal imaging camera is a useful addition to, but not a substitute for the knowledge, skills and experience of a good timber pest inspector.

Thermal imaging does not “see” inside walls unlike an X-ray, CAT Scan or MRI although you may have seen thermal images showing the framing inside walls. This is misleading as the darker lines of the frame are visible because the frame acts as a heat sink – draining heat from the wall sheet and appearing as a dark spot. The frame lines on the image are actually colder sections of wall sheeting as a result of the heat being drained away from the surface of the wall sheet and not the frame itself being “seen” through the sheet.

Thermal imaging simply provides a temperature reading across a surface, building up a picture from thousands of temperature measurements in its field of view. It’s also useful in displaying patterns of moisture which evaporates and cools surrrounding material. Conversely, as termites maintain a constant temperature between 28 and 32 degrees Celcius in their workings, if there are enough of them and the ambient temperature is cooler, termite activity presents as a hot spot.

The detection of defects and timber pest activity using thermal imaging is not a simple process and requires knowledge, skill, experience, and training. The process must take into account the climate, the current weather, the structure’s use and occupancy, the time of day, the type of construction, heating and air conditioning, plumbing, wiring, construction materials, surface finish, and even colour.

How can I monitor for thermal electrical faults?

Thermal electrical faults can be caused by poor or loose connections, loose crimps or poor contacts. Predictive inspections of electrical systems are often mandatory in commercial maintenance programmes. Thermal imaging surveys are conducted when the electrical systems are operating and under load. When faults have been detected, issues can be identified and rectified once a programmed shut down has been scheduled. This will save time and money.