Environmental Thermal Imaging (Thermographic Survey)

Thermal imaging, sometimes known as thermography, is a name for a type of photography which is based on infrared wavelengths (as opposed to visible wavelengths). If we could see the infrared radiation, we could “see” the apparent temperature of the surface of an object. By visualising surface temperatures in a highly detailed image, many valuable things can be learnt about the location and condition of components, systems, services and defects in a building. As we cannot do this with our eyes, we need to use a device which can detect the “invisible” infrared energy. A thermal imaging camera can do this.

One of the most common and valuable uses of thermal imaging is to visually identify heat loss from a building. But thermography can do many other things for us as well, and the most unique benefit of it is that it is non-contact, non-invasive and non-destructive. This means that thermography can often be used before other more destructive testing methods to scan large areas quickly and safely to locate, identify and quantify “hidden” components, systems or defects.

Specific uses for thermography include:

  • Location of heat loss from inadequate or missing insulation
  • Location and quantification of thermal bridges
  • Location and magnitude of air leakage paths through the building envelope
  • Provision of credits under different BREEAM schemes
  • Water leak tracing from building envelope failures or internal systems
  • Location, tracing and diagnosis of hidden or buried systems such as under floor heating systems, central heating, supply pipes or district heating
  • Non-destructive visualisation of structural or other components in any type of building including historic/listed buildings, prior to refurbishment or as part of building control processes
  • As part of preventative maintenance programs or problem solving in plumbing, HVAC, mechanical and electrical systems, solar PV and solar thermal installations

It should remembered that a thermal image, whilst often looking simple to an untrained eye, contains a large amount of information which is not all obvious and it takes great experience to interpret an image correctly with context provided from other sources of information. Misdiagnosis can be a real concern. The process for correct image interpretation starts BEFORE the image is taken to prepare and understand the environmental conditions and minimise sources of error in the image. A professional thermographic surveyor will always discuss this in advance with clients to set expectations appropriately and plan for success.

Surveys can often be conducted very quickly, in a matter of an hour or so onsite or less. In addition to the onsite survey, in many cases, the thermographic process consists of pre-survey planning and subsequent computer analysis of the images and other data gathered before and during the survey.

Thermal imaging is currently unregulated, so it is important to check the education, training and experience of a thermographer before commissioning a survey. BBS recommends that a minimum Level 2 PCN thermographer certified by The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing and with additional building specific thermographic training and experience is employed.

Whatever your requirements on thermal imaging BBS Environmental Services will be able to assist you, please contact 01892 891280.


Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging

Thermal Imaging

Images courtesy of iRed

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