Infrared Thermal Imaging

A recent thermographic survey on 1 - 20 Shaftesbury Court, Hackney, showed the exact extent of damage and condition of the failed waterproofing on its 446m2 roof. The report showed clearly the areas of bad condition and identified areas where the existing insulation was damaged.

By replacing the existing roof covering with Bauder waterproofing system and integrated insulation, the energy rating improved from an E to C with a saving of 12,630kWh per year, which at current energy costs equates to a saving of £235.87* for one flat per year and a CO2 reduction of approximately 2450Kg per year. To further improve this building to a B rating would require improved wall insulation, 100% low energy lighting and improved controls of the heating system.

Infrared thermal imaging is a fast emerging technology that is rapidly gaining traction as one of the most effective test methods in the market. As a refurbishment tool it’s difficult to beat. It is fast, non-destructive and provides clear photographs of external envelope defects - saving time, removing ambiguity from the process, and the resultant images can be analysed to show quantifiable energy loss and carbon emissions.

The technology can be employed on just about any residential building structure and fabric. The infrared works on the principal that energy emits from objects differently if they are wet or damaged when compared to dry, sound areas of the same material. For instance a wall with missing cavity fill looks different to an infrared camera than the filled area. Likewise wet insulation on a roof emits its energy differently from dry areas. The images need to be taken in the evening when the building is radiating its energy and not absorbing it.

One leading company providing thermal imaging is IRT Surveys Ltd which is based in Dundee and has offices throughout the UK. The company has been surveying buildings for defects such as delamination, wet insulation, dampness and water ingress.

Stewart Little, managing director of IRT Surveys commented, “More and more we are seeing clients commission roof surveys with dual objectives - foremost is always advice on refurbishment options, but a significant secondary goal is evaluation of the roof’s energy performance and advice on which system to upgrade to in order to maximize energy savings. We are seeing this trend become commonplace among building surveyors housing associations, private landlords and local government alike. Budgets are tight everywhere, if you can leverage the energy budget to refurbish a roof, then everyone wins.”

It is clear that commissioning a thermographic report allows for informed decisions to be made on prioritising budget according to the savings possible.