Using Infrared Thermography to find Roof Leaks

I was asked to find a chronic roof leak at an industrial roof in Holland, MI. Several other contractors had been asked to address the roof leak without success. I decided to use infrared thermography to find the leak source.

infrared Thermal Imaging gives us the ability to see the heat radiating off of objects. On a sunny day, the moisture contained in the wet insulation beneath the top layer of roofing will absorb the heat energy from solar radiation. After the sun sets the areas of the roof containing dry insulation cools with the air temperature, but areas containing wet insulation continue to emit the heat that has been absorbed by the solar load during the day. This wet insulation then shows up as “hot spots” with the Infrared camera.

As I found with this building, although the roof leak was small, the amount of damage done by the leak to the roofing assembly was much greater. The orange area in this photo shows water trapped in the insulation beneath the roofing membrane. With Infrared Thermal Imaging, I was able to pin point the problem areas, replace the wet insulation, and solve the leak issues for the owner. All this was done for significantly less than what was paid for several unsuccessful trips performed by previous contractors.

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