The use of Infrared Thermal Imaging for roof inspection has become an economical and proven method of maintaining commercial flat roofs so commonly found in commercial, industrial, institutional, and office building structures. Roof leaks develop due to factors associated with installation, design, and neglected maintenance. Damage caused by a flat roof leak can be quite substantial and costly. A leak in a low sloped flat roof will often go unnoticed as the insulation between the roof deck and the flat roof covering absorbs much of the moisture. When moisture and water enters a commercial flat roof system, it often becomes trapped and can remain beneath the commercial roof covering for years. This causes the roof materials (including decking, insulation, and covering) to degrade rapidly and ultimately fail prematurely, resulting in enormous replacement expenditures. Infrared Thermal Inspections of commercial flat roofs can help!
Why is a Flat Roof Infrared Inspection important?
Thermal imaging can assist in determining the extent of affected/damaged materials, and help to identify the source of leaks. Roof leaks are unique in that when water damage is observed inside the building, the leak source rarely occurs directly above the interior location. Water trapped beneath a flat roof can travel great distances along roof decking, structural building components, and mechanical systems such as pipes and HVAC ducts. Blindly patching suspect areas is often performed and results in failed attempts, frustration, and wasted time and money. The longer a commercial flat roof continues to leak, the more likely damage, revenue loss, and equipment failure are likely to occur. It's understandable how facility and commercial building owners can become overburdened with repairs. With average flat roof replacement costs at $18.00 per square foot or more depending on the materials and extent of repairs needed, it's important to ensure your flat roof is sound year after year.
An undeniably proven method for determining your commercial flat roof condition is through the use of Infrared Thermal Imaging Inspections. The industry average life expectancy for flat (low sloped) roof systems is ten to fifteen years! These published statistics also indicate many flat roof systems will develop leaks within the first two years of service! For each year a building owner can extend their flat roof useful service life beyond the industry average, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars can be recouped into budgets for other expenditures and future expansions! BC Warner Inspections and Thermal Imaging Services has saved our clients enormous replacement expenses through infrared inspections of flat roof surfaces!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Water that enters the roof surface becomes absorbed and trapped. This very water becomes the catalyst that helps infrared thermal imaging equipment identify and locate problem areas. Water has the highest thermal density of any other building material including stone and concrete! This means it takes the longest time to heat up and cool down as compared to other building materials. But we need a source to provide this heat over such a large surface as a commercial flat roof... The best, most efficient, and most uniform source of this heat is the sun. An infrared roof inspection relies on the sun to heat the roof surface during the day. When the sun sets in the evening, the roof surface begins to cool rapidly... much faster than the trapped water beneath the flat roof surface. During this window of opportunity, an infrared roof inspection can quickly identify heat patterns in the roof surface using a non-invasive, non-intrusive infrared camera. These "thermal signatures" are then verified via moisture meters to confirm water beneath the identified locations. The roof surface is often marked so repairs can be easily and surgically made as opposed to complete roof replacement or wasteful roof-overs. An image or video is also captured and included in the infrared roof inspection report along with sketch or CAD drawing indicating the location(s) of identified hidden moisture. BC Warner Inspections & Thermal Imaging Services has scanned and documented millions of square feet of commercial flat roofs for our clients. Our Infrared Roof Inspections have proven cost savings time and again to clients who realized the benefits.
Ideally, roofs should be inspected and surveyed shortly after installation to establish parameters to base future surveys on. A well designed and maintained roof can be inspected every 3 to 5 years, but ideal maintenance and best cost savings are realized with annual infrared inspections regardless of the age of the roof. Infrared Roof Inspections are also recommended and should be performed after major weather events such as high winds, hail storms, heavy snows, and severe thunderstorms. If an active leak is present or observed inside your building, infrared inspections can help to locate the source and determine the extent of damage both inside and out.
GREAT QUESTION! Most commercial flat roof coverings make great candidates for an infrared roof inspection; however, there are a few materials and roof types which do not. Flat roofs with roof coverings such as Built Up (BUR), modified bitumen, torch down, Spray Foam (SPF), etc. make excellent candidates for a successful infrared roof inspection. Roof coverings consisting of a membrane such as EPDM, vinyl, TPO, and PVC are also good candidates, but do have some difficulties and limitations we would be happy to discuss with you. Poor materials for an infrared roof inspection include heavily ballasted roofs (2 or more inches thick, or large aggregate), roofs with a reflective coating applied, and metal roofs. We would also be happy to discuss options and considerations for those types of commercial roofing materials.
I have devoted years of time and investment in quality training and equipment to provide our clients a truly unbiased and experienced infrared inspection service. BC Warner Inspections does not perform repairs or recommend specific commercial roofing contractors, so our service remains truly unbiased and dedicated to your best interest and trust. My knowledge and experience in commercial flat roof infrared inspections is surpassed by few. In fact, as the Educational Director for the National Association of Commercial Building Inspectors & Thermographers™, I find myself answering questions and providing technical support to many local and regional infrared companies, as well as to inspectors across the United States and Canada who actively seek advice from an experienced thermographer. Infrared technology and training varies dramatically in quality, specifications, and of course costs. Many providers, roofing contractors, and individual inspectors unfortunately choose to enter this profession as cheaply as possible with little to no training and grossly inadequate equipment. When accuracy, quality, and experience matters in such an important application as an Infrared flat roof inspection, BC Warner Inspections & Thermal Imaging Services is the right choice for your commercial building application. I encourage you to choose wisely and compare credentials, experience, and sample reports.
The building owner suspected a roof leak that was impacting is back office space and warehouse area. Infrared inspection provided negative findings for latent moisture beneath the roof surface; however, visual inspection of the roof top HVAC revealed careless workmanship which permitted water to enter the RTU and find its way to the interior areas through the ducts. A simple fix and enormous cost savings to the client!
The client continued to have roof leaks even after roofing contractors had repaired a small portion of the facility roof. An infrared inspection was performed, and found that insulation surrounding the repair area was also saturated with water. While the repaired areas were readily apparent, additional compromised areas of the roof covering remained. Further surgical repairs were needed to restore the roof and insulation panels to good condition. The client was able to obtain the information needed to fully understand the actual condition of the insulation materials below the roof surface.
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The potential savings reaped from Infrared Roof Inspection and Moisture Surveys provided by BC Warner Inspections can be enormous! Through proper maintenance and infrared roof inspections, our clients can extend the service life of their flat roof exponentially. Entire roof replacements can turn into smaller "surgical" repairs saving clients hundreds of thousands of dollars. The incentive to repair and maintain roofs, rather than replace them becomes even greater during these tough economic times. Additionally, as waste disposal costs continue to increase, our use of landfills can be significantly reduced to protect our environment for future generations! Infrared Roof Inspections and Moisture Surveys will help to pinpoint and focus your maintenance personnel or contractors on the precise areas needing repair. Roof maintenance using the information and details provided by an infrared roof inspection is one of the best investments businesses and facility owners can make.