What is thermal imagery? How can it help me?

Imagine if you could see heat as light, with hotter temperatures showing red and cold temperatures an icy blue. Well, thermal imaging does exactly that. Hot objects give off infra red energy, which we experience as heat, but which can be treated as light by special cameras. This makes it possible for the camera to record or display an image showing hot and cold areas as red or blue. Modern thermal imaging systems can be finely calibrated and can detect very small differences in temperature. This makes them ideal for uncovering the source of problems ranging from heat loss to water leaks without invasive investigations.

Thermal imaging for insulation and energy saving

Want to save money on your bills? Insulation is a top way that British homes and businesses can cut energy costs. However, as many British buildings are 50-100 years old and have passed through multiple owners in their lifetime, it can be hard to know which changes will be most cost effective. Thermal imaging done during periods of heavy heat use (i.e. a cold day in winter) give a clear visual indication of where the most heat is escaping from your home or business, letting you know which areas to target first, whether that’s improving loft insulation, fitting new windows or sealing cracks in old brickwork.

Thermal imaging for leak detection 

Believe it or not, thermal imaging can also help you find out if you’ve got a burst or leaking pipe hidden in your walls. If you’ve spotted signs of damp or mould but haven’t been able to pinpoint the source of the water, thermal imaging is one way that experts can track down the leak. Thermal imaging will show changes in temperature in or behind the wall very clearly, and can therefore let you see if damp is spreading. It’s easiest to spot if a hot pipe is leaking, as they have a greater temperature difference with the surroundings, but cold pipe and sewage leaks can also be detected as the water changes how the wall radiates ambient heat.

Thermal imaging for ventilation and mould problems

While we want to keep the heat in our homes, it’s nonetheless essential to get some air movement and ventilation otherwise damp and related problems, including mould and mildew, quickly appear. Thermal imaging can be used to take both internal and external views of a property. These can indicate whether ventilation systems are working properly and if there are any particular trouble spots building up in the home. 

Thermal imaging systems

Most thermal imaging is done with a handheld camera. These range from cumbersome but highly accurate professional models to simple palm size devices that are easy to point and shoot with. Cameras may be paired with a laptop or tablet to make viewing easier. Robot and drone cameras, as well as cameras on long sticks or flexible wires, may be used to access hard to reach areas, such as under floor boards, without causing damage.