The use of thermal imaging is often presented as miraculous. We see through the walls. It's like an X-ray of the building! The reality is quite different.
Five common questions and answers about thermography.
A thermal camera can see through walls.
False! The thermal camera is a tool that can identify approximate surface temperatures. It is limited to this function. It is a non-destructive tool that may or may not reveal signs of a building flaw.
A thermographic inspection eliminates the risk of hidden defects.
False! A thermal camera makes it possible to note, under certain conditions at the time of the inspection, temperature differences, no more. Differences that may indicate leaks or the presence of water, gaps in the building envelope such as weak insulation or a puncture in the building envelope. If a serious structure problem is present, the thermal camera will not be able to reveal this problematic. Thermal imagery will never replace the sense of observation and the building knowledge of a good inspector.
The higher the cost of a thermal imaging camera, the better the quality and the relevance of the information obtained.
False! A better camera will be more accurate, of course. However, in building inspection, the importance is not necessarily related to accuracy. A difference of 1 °C will not likely abort a transaction. Whether the temperature read by the camera is 10 °C or 8 °C, it is not very important here. It is the experience and explanations of your experienced inspector that add value. Without his support, photos with flamboyant colors have no real value. Photos of the ceiling of this 2018 building indicate a weakness in the insulation. It will be confirmed, following the inspection of the attic, that the loose insulation moved.
Several factors can minimize the usefulness of a thermography.
True! A thermography performed with an internal and external temperature difference of less than 10 °C, the delta T, offers little or no useful information. The heat gain in materials caused by the sun in winter will mask the losses that will be visible in the evening long after sunset.
Anyone can use a thermal camera, it's easy!
True! Owning a thermal camera does not make its owner an accredited thermograph. An accreditation shows at most that the user knows how to use the camera.