BUILDING INSULATION THERMOGRAPHY.

Thermal Imaging of building insulation

OVERVIEW

This infrared thermogram shows heat loss and air exfiltration flowing across the side of a building wall.

Thermographic inspections of building envelopes are non destructive and provide 100% coverage of the structure to detect air leakage, energy loss and moisture.

A building’s envelope is composed of differing materials used to control heat loss, heat gain and prevent moisture and air movement through the envelope. Any defect due to design, material failure, or workmanship can result in the infiltration or exfiltration of heat, air and moisture, which can cause energy loss and damage to the structure. Thermal imaging is used to locate these defects and to provide the diagnostic information necessary to understanding the problem, so it can be properly addressed.

An infrared survey can be used on buildings for:

  • Energy conservation studies.
  • Detecting damaged and wet insulation and insulation voids due to misapplied batts, foam or blown in insulations
  • Leaks and distribution issues in HVAC systems
  • Leaks in the building’s pressure envelope in the form of air infiltration or exfiltration.
  • Leaks in steam and condensate pipes
  • Leaks in hydronic radiant embedded heating coils
  • Finding hot spots in electrical systems
  • Moisture, delimitation and water damage in walls, roofs and EFIS
  • Missing reinforcement grout in CMU walls

Defects in building materials and assemblies affect the air leakage, moisture and the transfer rate of heat through the building’s envelope. Infrared thermography can “see” the temperature difference across the surface of these materials, pinpointing the problem areas efficiently and effectively.

An infrared thermography survey is a cost effective diagnostic tool to detect failures in the thermal and pressure envelopes of a structure.

Infrared building envelope inspection can detect air leaks (air infiltration or exfiltration), heat loss, heat gain, insulation voids, wet insulation, and can locate moisture problems in EIFS walls.

DETAIL

We like to think of a building envelope as a complete, monolithic covering, an impervious layer separating the inside of the building from the outside. However, a buildings thermal, pressure and vapor envelopes are not solid planes and are continually compromised!

Building envelopes are made of many differing materials and they have numerous layers of materials all peppered with penetrations such as structural expansion and control joints, electrical and plumbing conduits, in addition to numerous windows and doors and all of which need to be properly sealed in order to form a weather tight envelope around the structure. Should any of these interfaces or materials fail, or be installed/designed poorly, the structure may suffer energy loss in cold winter months and/or excessive energy gain in warmer months.

The most common heat transfer modes in buildings causing energy loss or gain are convective deficiencies such as air leaks (exfiltration or infiltration) and conductive deficiencies such as insufficient, misapplied or damaged insulation materials. In addition, these deficiencies can lead to moisture intrusion and condensation. An infrared building envelope inspection can help to evaluate the integrity of your building envelope and detect defects in the envelope.

EIFS (exterior insulation and finishing system) is typically a low maintenance design, but is subject to failures where the waterproofing surface coat interfaces with components of the building’s structure such as plumbing and electrical penetrations, windows and doors. At these locations, there can be failures such as cracks in the stucco coat due to workmanship, different expansion rates of the dissimilar materials and failures in the material or application of the weatherproofing sealants.

Wherever the thermal envelope or pressure envelope of a building is breached, infrared inspection is typically the most cost-effective, highest rate of coverage diagnostic tool available to the property owner. Using thermography to perform an infrared survey of the building can locate missing, misapplied, or damaged insulation, air leaks, and moisture intrusion areas.

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