Testing Building Envelope Systems Using Infrared Thermal Imaging

May 11, 2018 | By admin | 0 Comments

Buildings of all kinds, from homes to factories to high climbs, can be troubled by problems associated with design, construction and maintenance which can be tricky to diagnose and resolve. The Significant problems found in buildings include:

  • Excessive energy usage because of missing or damaged insulation, insulation that is performing inadequately, and excess air-leakage throughout the thermal perimeter
  • Moisture damage due to condensation or leaks, especially in the walls or roofs
  • Ice damage to sloped roofs
  • Poor HVAC supply or performance
  • Inadequate verification of construction details or structural performance delaminations of façade materials
  • “Sick building syndrome,” mold development and other health-related Troubles

Often the problems – and their causes and effects – simply can’t be viewed until after the expensive damage was done. At that point, the only recourse might be extensive, expensive reconstruction. For example, a commercial building, a nursing home, had extensive problems resulting from a badly designed roof/ceiling insulation system; these included extreme heat loss during winter and, consequently, extensive ice damage due to snow melt. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent in various, poorly planned attempts to fix the underlying causes. In the long run, the owners simply lived together with the continued problem because corrective actions were deemed too costly. Despite this unfortunate settlement, the thermograms assisted the owners negotiate a financial settlement with the contractors and architects. Visit Rooster Building Group here.

When correctly used, thermal imaging enables building owners, architects, architects, and inspectors to verify building performance, identify potential problem areas and confirm corrective solutions.

A fantastic value of infrared thermography is the fact that it gives a way of viewing the invisible thermal signatures associated with several of these issues in the building. When properly used, thermography allows building owners, architects, contractors, and inspectors to find issues, verify construction functionality, and support options. If folks act on this information, significant savings buildings and result are more comfortable! All surfaces radiate undetectable heat energy. You’ve felt this energy emitted from sunlight or a stove burner. Infrared cameras have been specially-designed electronic devices that detect thermal radiation. They convert this radiation to thermal pictures, or thermograms, which visually portray temperature fluctuations as small as 0.05°C. These mobile, battery-operated instruments capture the thermal information as still, digital images or on traditional videotape or digital movie. The picture is displayed live in a viewfinder or on an LCD view screen. Different glowing temperatures are displayed as different colors or shades of gray. Even though it might at times be utilized to display temperature worth, this is often not required in building work. Rather, the temperature differences are normally of interest. Given the ideal conditions most buildings display feature thermal patterns that can be translated by a professional person. The infrared systems themselves are quite simple to operate and, thus, a number of thermographers conduct construction inspections. The tasks of interpreting the vision, understanding the main cause problems, and finding answers are all more difficult. Because of this, thermographers often work closely with a team comprising building specialists, architects, and contractors. The real key to using thermography successfully is knowing what thermal patterns are associated with the issues being studied and understanding when those patterns will become visible in the infrared picture. Click here to get started!

Building Applications for Thermography

Thermography has been used because the mid-60s to solve building issues. During the late 70s and early 80s, a time when gas prices climbed dramatically, thermography was embraced widely as a tool to help ascertain construction operation. Since that time other applications are developed and refined, especially associated with verification of structural performance. The significant building-related applications for the technology will be detailed below. 

See also: Parking Lot Repairs and Waterproofing | Parkade Membranes

Insulation Checks

Missing, damaged or non-performing insulation will stand out clearly at a thermal picture when there is a 10°C (18°F) steady temperature gap between the conditioned space and the outside air. It’s often feasible to perform job with less of a fever spread due to differences in the thermal capacitance of these construction materials. The review is typically done from both inside and out. Often the best results are gained from inside due to fewer influences, but a much better overall understanding of the construction can frequently be gained from larger views of the external elevations.

Missing, damaged or non-performing insulation will stand out clearly at a thermal picture whenever there is at least a 10°C (18°F) stable temperature gap between the conditioned space and the outside air.

It is imperative to be aware of the type of insulation in the construction and construction details, including the way the insulation was installed. Insulation may be in place but not performing; often a destructive test is justified to establish baseline conditions or comprehend the exact construction detail. Each type of insulation has a feature thermal pattern. A soft foam insulation is susceptible to shrinkage and cracking when poorly installed. Several things affect the picture you may see. When work is completed in the daytime or early evening, the impact of solar loading has to be considered. The effects of the sunlight can easily last 6-8 hours on both the inside and out after a wall has been exposed. This frequently results in the direction of heat flow is reversed, making for perplexing pictures and misdiagnosis. The end must also be reckoned with, since it can both quickly remove the thermal difference on a surface in addition to enhance others. If construction problems are wind-related, i.e. “we are chilly on windy days,” then it’s best to conduct the review with a wind load. The prices of poor operation of insulation are enormous. Besides excessive energy consumption, there might be expensive freeze-ups of water pipes or fire sprinkler systems; wellness problems associated with mold growth in cold spots, damage to interiors and roofs brought on by ice dams, condensation, and water intrusion.

Sick-building Syndrome

When buildings are too tight or too moist, health-related problems quickly arrive at the forefront. Grouped together as “sick building syndrome,” these may stem from inadequate HVAC functionality, moisture trapped in walls, mold development on chilly, damp surfaces and insufficient air change prices. A number of these may be visualized and recognized, at least in part, with thermography to help solve these very serious-and common-problems. Diagnosing these issues is often a very complex procedure and, given that the reality that lawsuit could be entailed, it isn’t something to be entered into lightly.

Facade Delaminations

A great deal of work was performed in SE Asia inspecting the facades of large buildings for delaminations. Failures of these materials can result in serious injury. The masonry tiles utilized to confront the buildings have a tendency to change temperature fairly quickly when they begin to delaminate compared to the underlying structure to which they had been affixed. The diurnal cycle is generally the driving heat source and inspections are best completed in the early evening hours following a warm sunny day.