Whether your building is approaching substantial completion, or it has been occupied for the past twenty years, one of the most important maintenance issues that will be faced is the damage caused by water intrusion.  Rain will find its way into walls and roof assemblies through improperly installed roof penetrations and flashings, window flashings, and deteriorated caulk joints.

EIFS IR

EIFS

Apparent water intrusion behind an exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS)

The first pair of photos shows an area below an EIFS band that appears warmer than the surrounding EIFS area.  Tooled joints in the EIFS had developed hairline cracks that required sealing.  EIFS studies are either performed just after the sun goes down or after sunrise, when there will be a visible temperature difference between the EIFS surface and any water beneath it.  These photos were taken in the evening when the EIFS surface had cooled, but the water underneath is holding heat stored during the daylight hours.

 

Built-up Roof IR

Built-up Roof

Apparent water intrusion at corner of built-up roof

Thermal imagery provides an indication of water intrusion at the corner of this built-up roof.  Roof studies are either performed just after the sun goes down or after sunrise, when there will be a visible temperature difference between the roof membrane and any water beneath it.  These photos were taken in the evening when the membrane has cooled, but the water beneath is holding heat stored during the daylight hours.  Other common areas where leaks occur are at membrane seams, roof penetrations and locations where heavy maintenance or foot traffic occurs.

 

Electrical Panel IR

Electrical Panel

Hotspots in electrical panels may be an indicator of potential electrical issues

Thermal imagery of electrical panels is a useful tool that should be incorporated with periodic inspections by a qualified electrician.  Hotspots may be an indicator of loose connections or failing components.  This panel was inspected by an electrician and some loose connections were tightened.

When you seek a provider for infrared services, be sure to ask for their certification.  The interpretation of these images can be difficult.  An area that looks like a leak may simply be catching the thermal reflection of the investigator, or the emissivity of the material may be high, making it appear to be a much higher temperature than it really is.  Other factors that must be taken into consideration are the distance from the target, the relative humidity, and the reflected ambient temperature from the sun or equipment behind the investigator.

Dan Williams
Senior Project Manager
zumBrunnen, Inc.

 

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