IAQ UPDATE: Using an Infrared Camera to Detect Water and Mold Problems

Infrared Cameras and Mold Detection

Published on March 12, 2014

A low temperature range infrared camera is a very useful tool in detecting the presence of water or moisture that ultimately leads to mold growth. Infrared or thermal inspection does not directly identify the presence of mold, but it may be used to find moisture where mold may cultivate, especially behind wall board.

But Beware!  I have seen many cases where the infrared camera results have been misinterpreted.  That is, the lower temperature readings than the surrounding area were not the result of water intrusion.

infrared-water-intrusionThe most common error is not recognizing that the temperature differential is due to insulation—or the lack thereof.  Generally it’s fairly obvious—a section of the wall/roof line shows a straight line compared to an irregular pattern of a water intrusion.  Sometimes it’s simply a missing or removed insulation batt or panel, or insulation removed for an electrical outlet, water, or sewer line.

Less obvious situations often involve chill water lines since in these cases the infrared image is often not a straight line.  The infrared technician must also be aware of elevations where heat may be the result of the temperature differential.  I don’t mean the more obvious and apparent air supply ductwork, but the more subtle conditions such as electrical boxes, transformers and overloaded electrical lines.  It’s also possible to overlook problems from the much maligned EIFS (Exterior Insulation Finishing Systems) where the borders along windows, corners, roof lines, and foundations have failed with or without water intrusion.

Once again, here is an important situation where qualified and experienced Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Specialists are better utilized to address water intrusions and mold growth problems, rather than someone who rents an infrared meter and buys a mold test kit at a home improvement center.

Atlantic Environmental, Inc. has been in business doing IAQ surveys for 36 years and we are continually challenged to keep up with equipment technology and construction materials/techniques and their effect on indoor air quality.

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Written by Robert E. Sheriff, CIH, CSP

Robert E. Sheriff is the CEO of Atlantic Environmental. A Certified Industrial Hygienist and Certified Safety Professional, he has over thirty years of experience providing indoor air quality assessments. For more information and a free proposal, contact him at 800-344-4414 or email him at info@atlenv.com.