In the disaster restoration industry, change is constant and technology keeps advancing. Because of this, water restoration professionals have been able to greatly improve their drying efforts. One of the most helpful pieces of equipment today are thermal, or infrared cameras. But what exactly are they and how do they work?
In years past, thermal imaging cameras have been used in all sorts of special applications, ranging from targeting systems in military planes to search and rescue operations. But they’ve become increasingly prevalent for use in moisture testing and leak detection.
The first thing to know about thermal cameras is they’re not x-ray machines and can’t see through people or objects. But they also don’t work like regular cameras. Regular cameras and the human eye both work on the same basic principle: visible light energy hits something, bounces off it, a detector receives the reflected light, and then turns it into an image.
Thermal imagers make pictures from heat, not visible light. Heat (also called infrared or thermal energy) and light are both parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, but a camera that can detect visible light won’t see thermal energy, and vice versa. Thermal cameras capture infrared energy and use the data to create images through digital or analog video outputs.
Because humans can’t see heat energy, infrared imaging equipment translates the picture into a false-color image, where different temperature ranges are represented by certain colors. Typically, dark colors like black and blue represent cool surfaces, and bright colors like yellow, red and white represent warm and hot areas.
How does that help water damage restoration professionals? The variations in temperatures detected by Infrared cameras may signal moisture problems. For instance, when wallboard or other structural elements of buildings are wet, evaporative cooling occurs. As a result, wet building components appear cooler than dry components of the same material and produce telltale cool areas on thermal images. These areas are sometimes difficult to see with the naked eye, but thermal cameras can easily find them.
So, thermal cameras are helpful in water damage restoration because they:
One thing these cameras don’t do is reveal percentages or points of moisture levels – in other words, how wet something is. That’s information restoration professionals also need to know in their drying processes. So along with the thermal camera, they likewise use moisture meters to get that vital data.
When it comes to water damage, a quick and accurate diagnosis is critical to successful remediation. To kick-start the process, Cyclone Kleen Up includes thermal imaging as part of our comprehensive emergency response and remediation services to help ensure your property is dried thoroughly.*While infrared cameras don’t specifically detect the presence of mold, they do provide mold inspectors the opportunity to find wet areas that are prime spots for mold infestation.