Thermal Imaging – Seeing an entirely new perspective
If you have a thermal camera, you can see what others can’t. Thermal imaging is an emerging technology for numerous professions. While the technology has been around for a long time, it is only in recent history that it became affordable for many professionals. In my industry, many home inspectors are adopting thermal cameras as part of their normal practice. While becoming more prevalent, it is important for everyone to understand the advantages and limitations of this technology.
Let’s start by talking about how thermal can help. Thermal cameras see heat. More specifically, radiation heat is the only type of heat they can see. Visually seeing the temperature of surfaces can help to identify abnormal temperatures. Abnormal temperatures can be caused by all sorts of things including moisture issues, insulation issues, electrical problems, pest issues, and heating system issues to name a few. There are also various other applications in almost every industry. The main benefit is that you can see the temperature and therefore can identify things not visible to the naked eye.
Before we get too excited, there are some things to be aware of when it comes to thermal imaging. Infrared cameras CAN NOT see through walls. Infrared cameras also don’t see air or measure air temperature. They can’t see through glass or water. They do not need any light to function. If you are in a pitch-black room, pointing your camera at the wall, the only thing you can see is the temperature of the paint on that wall. This is important to understand because the function of a thermal camera is limited by these abilities.
So, we have gone into this subject technically, but what does it all mean? First off, the technology has numerous applications and can have an amazing benefit. If you have a unique moisture problem or want to check your house to identify unknown issues this is a great technology. Secondly, this technology is complicated, and you hear many stories about walls being opened to repair issues that are not there. If you want any thermal scanning done on your home, it’s important to hire a certified professional. If you are considering using this technology, I highly recommend you learn about it prior to picking up a thermal camera. I am a Certified Residential Thermographer, a great option if you are thinking about learning thermal for applications in residential homes. There are other certifications like a Level 1 or Level 2 thermographer which may be better for commercial applications as they focus more on the scientific applications of thermal imaging.
As always, I am happy to discuss how and where to get thermal training or assist with any thermal investigations or thermal scanning of residential properties. When applied correctly this technology is a great resource to identify more issues and do so more efficiently.