Solve defect mysteries with a thermal imaging – four examples

Category: Detect & Inspect Property Defects

thermal image of a roof

Thermal Imaging and Defect Detection

While you may believe your property to be in perfect working order, some of the most dangerous defects can lie undetected for years before rearing their ugly – and costly – heads.

That’s precisely why infrared thermography is being used with increasing frequency for defection detection.

Rather than waiting for the defect to appear or wasting money, time and effort tearing to shreds various parts of your property in the hunt for a non-existent defect, a single thermal image is capable of revealing everything you need to know to plan for the future. It’s quite simple – you wouldn’t go for an operation without an X-ray, so why should your building?

Whether it’s disparity between ‘as built’ and ‘as designed’ performance, under-par workmanship from contractors or irresponsible tenants – IRT Surveys has discovered defects related to virtually every potential cause over the years.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the more unusual cases we’ve used infrared thermography to solve in the past 24 months:

image1BREEAM ‘excellent’?
A £13 million new build sport centre in the north of England achieved a BREEAM Excellent rating – yet continued to suffer from high energy costs, draughts and several excessively cold areas. IRT Surveys discovered many areas with cold bridging, cold air ingress and lack of or missing insulation that was specified in the build forcing the initially unforthcoming contractors to action several refurbishment projects.



iamge2Five year dispute – three second resolution
Defects are not only costly, they can also be highly stressful and cause major strains on relationships. In this particular example, landlord, tenant and two sets of building surveyors wasted time, money and effort disputing a poorly functioning large commercial building over a five year period. While countless destructive tests had been carried out on the 24,000m2 roof of the property, the suspected root of the problem, a simple thermal image showed it to be in excellent condition. Instead, another image of the property revealed a build up of water in the cladding system. Case closed.



image3£500,000 paid, £100,000 delivered
Following an initial analysis of a flat roof, our client paid £500,000 for a complete strip as suggested by our completely impartial report. However, a survey following the work’s completion revealed that, in actual fact, an overlay had been delivered with very limited strip – worth a fifth of the value of the amount paid. The building continued to leak and while the contractor attempted to blame the cladding system and sought an extra £500,000 for another order, our highly visual before and after images resulted in a very simple court case which was duly won by our client. The contractor was forced to strip off its initial work and complete the job as requested.



image4The other side of the coin
Shopping centre landlord sought the help of IRT Surveys to establish the cause of a costly roof leak, with the finger initially pointed at the work of the roofing manufacturers. Instead, our thermal image revealed that a tenant put a 3ft diameter hole through the roof to accommodate extract duct and also nailed flange plate to deck together with stainless steel stay wires. This resulted in the puncturing of the brand new roof, causing extremely expensive damage. Once again, our thermographic survey proved to be judge and jury, this time laying the blame with the tenant as opposed to the innocent landlord or contractors.


If you are interested in more examples then please check out our case studies.