Infrared Insights: Strategies for Troubleshooting Key Systems

  December 29, 2016

By Dan Hounsell

Infrared imaging technology has greatly expanded the ability of maintenance and engineering technicians to detect small problems in difficult-to-see locations and systems before they can become larger, costly problems.

Where once, technicians had to rely on their eyesight, experience and not much more to diagnose potentially major issues with electrical components and leaky roofs, infrared (IR), or thermal, imaging has given them the power to peer into and through an array of materials and components to see what trouble looks like. The same is true for troubleshooting HVAC systems.

“Technicians performing HVAC inspections with a thermal imaging camera can locate misrouted and leaking ducts, identify electrical or mechanical HVAC system faults, confirm the source of energy losses, spot missing insulation, and discover air conditioning condensate leaks,” says John Anderson of FLIR systems. “Surveying an HVAC system with an IR thermometer or other contact-measurement tool is extremely time-consuming and would run the risk of missing small faults that affect the entire system.”

Infrared imaging also enables technicians to determine the location of leaks in troublesome plumbing systems. “Plumbing leaks and water intrusion also can affect the building envelope,” Anderson says. “To visualize these leaks, technicians can take advantage of solar loading. During the day, the sun warms the exterior walls and the moisture trapped inside them. When the walls cool down after sunset, the moisture remains warm longer. Technicians using a thermal imaging camera can detect the temperature difference between the dry walls and the wet areas, pinpointing the leak’s location.”

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To read more about strategies and tactics for infrared imaging applications in facilities, check out these articles:

This Quick Read was submitted by Dan Hounsell, editor-in-chief of Facility Maintenance Decisions,


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