Heat Loss Survey of Buildings

Infrared Imagery and Heat Loss Surveys of Buildings

Objects of different mass, thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity in buildings gain and lose energy at different rates when they are dry, wet, and /or deteriorated. Therefore, with thermal imaging, we can view buildings when they are undergoing a thermal change or transient condition and make judgments about the building’s performance. There are many ways to accomplish building and infrastructure surveys depending on the ambient conditions and control systems. A building energy survey can be performed from the outside of the building using HVAC controls or not, by several methods:

  • NADIR (straight-down) aerial IR survey
  • Oblique (side view) aerial IR survey
  • Elevated (side view) survey from an adjacent building or a lift
  • On-ground (side view) survey while walking around the building or from roofs A building energy survey can also be performed from inside the building using HVAC controls or not, by walking through the building viewing the walls, ceilings and floors.
    The building owner gets a permanent record of the building, documenting that it is safe, code-compliant and built to the architect’s specifications.

Advantages of Infrared Heat Loss Surveys

  • Confidence that the building is within specifications detailed by the architect, there is no need to ‘over-design’ the building to compensate for inevitable, previously unseen faults. This will save the owner time, money and simplify the construction process.
  • General contractors can reduce the costs of inspections, since the building can be verified to specifications at any time during the construction. If faults are discovered, high quality reports can be generated and presented to the responsible party quickly, so that repairs can be carried out in a timely manner.
  • The building owner gets a permanent record of the building, documenting that it is safe, code-compliant and built to the architect’s specifications.

Heat Loss

Varying Heat Loss in Buildings

Why use Infrared Thermography for Heat Loss Surveys

To find out what is inside a wall, we scan them looking for surface temperature differences. These differences in temperature indicate a difference in mass, since heat energy is gained and released at different rates from objects of different densities. Since we scan the walls with extremely sensitive infrared cameras, we can see the patterns as a ‘picture’ of the different densities. Wall areas that contain grout, insulation or are empty are displayed as a different color (or shade of gray). Since we can “see” all areas of different mass, we can immediately determine if there is a component misplaced, incomplete or missing. When deficiencies are found, we make a matching visual image with a high resolution digital photo camera for reference. The orientation of the building to the Sun, the weather – as much as 3 days prior to the survey, the type of surface, status of the HVAC systems and many other factors make the ‘window’ of uneven heat dissipation different for each building and building component. For this reason, surveying must be done day and night, under varying conditions.

Old-fashioned methods of testing (on-site testing companies, installing Inspection ports, performing destructive testing and X-raying) are generally ineffective and expensive. An experienced  infrared thermographer can successfully survey just about any building, given proper thermal transient conditions. Infrared thermography can be used on the job site as an effective way to improve the quality of construction and the accountability of the contractors. This brings benefits to the building owner, general contractor, structural and thermal engineer and to the building industry in general.

We offer nationwide service for Building Heat Loss Surveys.

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