Flat roof infrared scans were first used to detect moisture and mold within flat and low slope roofs in the 1970’s. Since then its usage has steadily increased with millions of square feet now inspected annually over the globe.
Infrared could be applied to developed (BUR) and single ply roofing systems where either an insulating deck or a coating of insulation is in direct & continuous connection with the underside of the roofing membrane. Thermography may be performed from aircraft or ground-based. With the correct equipment, and training, an infrared scan can detect and document problematic regions of moisture infiltration for many shapes and sizes of roofing structures.
Generally speaking a really sensitive and higher resolution infrared camera is useful for flat roof infrared inspections. With higher reflective surfaces often requiring short wave infrared detectors, and for even higher reflective surfaces infrared is sometimes not a viable solution for detection of premature roof failure because of moisture intrusion
For several reasons, many building property managers and owners don’t perform routine roof maintenance of any kind flat roof inspections. Often the thought of when it isn’t broken then there’s no reason to correct it. So if the roof isn’t leaking, there’s no motivation to perform predictive maintenance inspections of any type. The majority of the time infrared technology is, more often than not, used only following a roof has begun failure or as a good assurance tool for new installations and retrofits.
An average low slope or flat roof has a life expectancy of only 10 years before it begins to enter stages of failure because of moisture intrusion. With an annual infrared detection scan roof life could be extended upwards of 3 hundred percent. With an average roof replacement costing of upwards of twenty dollar per square foot, an annual infrared inspection makes huge economic sense.