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FLIR thermal imaging for damp proofing solutions

  • 22 May 2015

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Thermal imaging factors-in hidden features and defects that have a bearing on the damp problem; these can easily be seen on a thermal image through difference in heat transfer and heat retention. Learning this information can prevent unnecessary, destructive testing.

Under the recommendation of Stuart Holland of Thermographic Consultancy Limited (TCL), Brick Tie Preservation specified the FLIR T420bx, with an addition wide-angle lens as much of the company’s work is performed indoors.

“I looked at other brands but the FLIR T420bx provided the ideal combination of functionality, sensitivity and resolution. Having tried cheaper ‘pistol grip’ type units I find the ergonomics of the swivel lens and hand grip much better in use,” commented Bryan Hindle, the company’s Managing Director.

He elaborated: “Good sensitivity is a particularly important criterion as I can’t count on high temperature differentials and I need to deal with conditions as I find them. Preparation counts for little if, for example, the doors and windows of a building are open when I arrive making the measurement conditions far less than ideal.”

Minimising destructive testing

Although thermal imaging does not directly diagnose conditions such as rising damp, Bryan explained how the process adds another layer to his diagnosis. Many damp problems are influenced by work carried out in the past, which is often hidden behind plaster and other finishes.

The effects of hygroscopic salts in brickwork.

“Thermal imaging helps me make an informed decision on whether time-consuming and destructive testing is necessary. I am able to get this information on site and usually with immediate results,” said Bryan.

In one particular instance, Bryan used his FLIR T420bx in combination with his FLIR MR77 moisture meter. Both are equipped with Meterlink, a function which allows measurements from the moisture meter to be embedded in the associated thermal image.

Meterlink provides clients an image with dew points and relative humidity, overlaid on a colour isotherm taken of the property – allowing them to see the result of the live readings from the moisture meter and giving a clear explanation of the process.

Building knowledge

Brick Tie Preservation’s FLIR T420bx is also helping to build the company’s scientific knowledge. It was recently used to provide a deeper understanding of how salts can affect the thermal characteristics of masonry and also how saturated air, common in winter, affects rising damp.

FLIR Systems’ multi-spectral imaging technology, MSX(r) captures visual data from the built-in digital camera and radiometric data from the thermal camera. Internal software analyses the image and superimposes key elements from the visual image as a high-contrast ‘skeleton’ on the thermal output. The result is an image showing unprecedented detail.

“The path edge, bed-joints and path/wall junction are all clear in the image thanks to MSX. I have also used FLIR Systems’ excellent FLIR Tools to plot some measurement lines to highlight the temperature gradients and plot the maximum and minimum apparent temperatures on each,” Bryan Hindle explained.

“I am able to complete gravimetric testing and salt analysis to BRE 245 ‘rising damp, diagnosis and treatment’ to find out more.”

Wide application scope

Thermal imaging allows Black Tie Preservation to reveal missing or wet insulation and areas at risk of condensation. It assists in locating cold bridges such as block cavities and, in traditional buildings, helps find hidden timber frames and members, bricked-up openings and leaks.

The flexibility recently enabled Bryan to find a leak in a central heating system, comprising aronud 100 metres of pipework under the ground floor screed.

“I was able to find the anomaly within a few minutes with my thermal imaging camera. When the heating was turned back on, the client and I watched as the patch grew and then cooled as new cold water was flushed in,” said Bryan.

He concluded: “I did without thermal imaging for years but now, I wouldn’t be without it.”

FLIR Systems,
2 Kings Hill Avenue,
Kings Hill,
West Malling,
Kent,
United Kingdom
ME19 4AQ

Phone: 01732 220011
Fax: 01732 220014

Visit FLIR Systems' website

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