An infrared (IR) camera is a versatile, cutting-edge device. Its ability to read heat as color and then display that information in a way that’s easily understood by clients makes the IR camera an increasingly important tool. Jeff Brown CMI & Associates uses this technology on every inspection, is Infrared Certified by InterNACHI and has completed additional specialized training in this area.
Infrared cameras translate the heat signatures of objects into colors on a gradient scale, with higher temperatures appearing as lighter colors, and lower temperatures and wet areas appearing as darker colors. Also known as thermal imaging and thermography, IR technology captures the light that exists just outside the visible spectrum. Thermal images show surface-heat variations, which is why an IR camera is such a diverse tool that can be used for a variety of applications. Abnormally hot electrical components and connections can be viewed during an electrical inspection. Areas of moisture that may lead to leaks and structural damage can be located based on apparent temperature differences. Heat loss and air leakage in a building envelope, and even areas of insufficient insulation, can be pinpointed quickly and accurately.
Infrared was first discovered over 200 years ago, by William Herschel, a British astronomer, most famous for discovering Uranus. Thermal imaging was first used by the military after World War II as a reconnaissance tool, with cameras mounted on planes that collected images of restricted areas for analysis. The first infrared scanning camera was used to inspect power lines. Thermography has advanced, become more portable and its practical applications have steadily increased. The use of thermal imaging for building inspections can locate and document defects in ways that provide more data with greater accuracy than many of the more traditional tools and techniques.
Infrared cameras can be used during building inspections to locate problems that can be found by viewing differences in temperature, which the camera sees and presents as gradient colors. Every object warmer than absolute zero emits infrared energy which is invisible to the naked eye but is read by thermal imaging. Being able to view this allows inspectors to locate problems that would otherwise be more difficult and time-consuming to find. Understanding data that the camera displays is essential in utilizing IR technology correctly and to its fullest capabilities.