X-Ray Vision What Infrared Thermography Can Do For Your Building

Time was, if a residential building was suffering heat loss, leaks, or other infrastructure problems, it was up to a team of engineers, contractors, and perhaps architects to investigate where the problem lay within the building's walls and to fix it - and that's only assuming anybody realized there was a problem in the first place. Slow leaks, mold contamination, faulty heat risers, and gaps in insulation can go undetected for years, compromising building residents' comfort and costing untold thousands in wasted energy and clean-up costs, and even developing into full-blown threats to building safety in the form of health and fire hazards.

Now, however, there is a method by which professionals can literally see through the walls of buildings of any size or description and identify potential problems before they become real crises. It's called infrared thermography - "IR" for short - and it's a tool of interest to building owners, managers, maintenance personnel, board members, contractors, engineers, and anyone involved in buying a building.

What It Is

In a nutshell, infrared thermography is a non-contact, image-based temperature measurement performed using an infrared sensitive camera. It's also referred to as thermal imaging, infrared imaging and in some fields, thermology. IR provides actual pictures of temperature, as well as accurate, detailed temperature measurements for objects of almost any size. The tool allows for rapid and direct understanding of any number of building systems and their behavior.

For a technology with such a simple description, IR has a remarkably wide range of applications. Single-family homes and commercial facilities can benefit from the technology every bit as much as a large apartment building, but here, we'll focus primarily on the applications of IR for multi-family managers and boards of directors.

How It Can Help

While words like "thermograph" and discussions of infrared technology may seem too high-tech and complicated for some building managers' and board members' comfort, the real-life, potentially beneficial applications of IR are things anyone involved with running a building day-to-day can relate to. The more specific, up-to-date information you have about your building, the better your position from which to negotiate on behalf of your board and/or shareholders. Applying thermography can be of help with building condition assessments and engineering reports prior to refinancing, re-negotiating insurance policies, or to determine what constitutes an adequate reserve fund.

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