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 across the globe.
Infrared can be applied to built up (BUR) and single ply roofing systems where either an insulating deck or a layer of insulation is in direct & continuous contact with the underside of the roofing membrane. Thermography may be performed from aircraft or ground-based. With the proper equipment, and training, an infrared scan can detect and document problematic areas of moisture infiltration for all shapes and sizes of roofing structures.
Generally speaking a very sensitive and higher resolution infrared camera is used 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 due to moisture intrusion
For many reasons, many building property managers and owners do not perform routine roof maintenance of any kind. Often the concept of if it isn’t broken then there is no reason to fix it. So if the roof is not leaking, there is no motivation to perform predictive maintenance inspections of any type. Most of the time infrared technology is, more often than not, used only after a roof has started failure or as a quality assurance tool for new installations and retrofits.
An average low slope or flat roof has a life expectancy of only ten years before it begins to enter stages of failure due to moisture intrusion. With an annual infrared detection scan roof life can be extended upwards of three hundred percent. With an average roof replacement costing of upwards of twenty dollar per square foot, an annual infrared inspection makes huge economic sense.