Infrared Inspections for Commercial Roofing Systems

Roy Ahrens on Dec 16, 2015 9:37:14 AM


When it comes to roofing systems, there are a variety of inspections that can be performed. Infrared inspections are used to detect moisture within the roofing system primarily within the insulation. This inspection helps find voids and deficiencies with a roof before total system collapse occurs.

How Does It Work?

Infrared inspections have the ability to read heat differentials based on surface temperatures. Typically, these inspections are performed one hour after dark due to the fact that the ‘heat’ relies on solar radiation. Since moisture retains heat longer, wet insulation areas will show more readily once the rest of the roofing system begins to cool.

It is important to note that these inspections can only be performed on a dry roof surface. Optimal times of the year to perform these inspections are during the spring, summer, and early fall as the roof will get to experience a full day of sun and provide better results. It is suggested that these inspections also occur annually as it is better to be proactive with the maintenance of your hefty investment. There are also a few other variables that need to be taken into consideration depending on your roofing system.

Insulation Type

Different types of insulations hold water differently. Some insulations take more time to absorb water working from the edges in, whereas other types soak up water like a sponge leading to complete saturation.

Roof Surface Color and Type

The color and surface of the roof is also something that should be taken into consideration when determining when to perform an infrared inspection.

Interior Conditions

Interior temperature and processes have the ability to affect the results of infrared inspections. An air plenum running directly under the roofing system as well as a hot boiler under the roof could affect inspection results, so it is important to understand what is going on under your roofing system prior to the survey.

Who Performs Infrared Inspections?

Consultants and contractors primarily perform infrared inspections. However, business owners can perform these inspections themselves as long as they have the proper infrared camera and associated equipment. Manufacturers will also perform their own inspections. There are four methods of inspection:

  1. Inspection via helicopter
  2. Inspection via airplane
  3. Inspection via drone
  4. Inspection via handheld camera

Out of the four options, handheld inspections are the most common. Airplane and helicopter inspections are more suited for situations in which there are multiple buildings that need to be inspected. Aside from once a year infrared inspections, inspections should also be performed post construction, before any retrofit/ repair work, and prior to the purchase of a building.

Regardless of who performs the inspection, it is important to verify results with physical core samples. By verifying the read, you can also verify the construction of the roofing system and ensure that installation occurred the way it was supposed to. Overall, infrared inspections are vital for the continuing performance of any roofing system. New Call-to-action