Determining whether a home or office has an existing leak or mold growth issue is next to impossible without the help of specialized tools and a certified inspector.
In most cases, leaks and existing mold are not visible to the naked eye, mainly because they are behind walls or above ceilings. Many individuals are looking to maintain a healthy environment in the buildings they reside in, but do not wish to destroy an existing wall to identify if mold or water damage is ruining a buildings structural integrity.
Luckily there is a non-invasive technology that can detect pockets of moisture that could signify mold growth, possible water damage, pipe leaks, temperature variations, structural abnormalities, and several other issues that could make a building uninhabitable. Infrared thermal imaging is one way in which such problems can be identified and taken care of, without destroying a wall or other structures in a home or office. How infrared thermal imaging works is that it is able to distinguish variations in the infrared spectrum, due to a change in temperature.
Every material has a unique thermal signature and when that signature is compromised by one of the following; moisture, heat, and cold, this change can be seen by the infrared thermal imaging camera. There are several reasons why it is important to detect such variations in temperature within wall cavities and one of the major ones is mold. Generally speaking, moisture means that mold may be present and needs to be removed. It takes only 72 hours for mold to begin to grow with the presence of water, no matter how small, and if it is left, can cause health issues for those living or working in the building. Some health issues associated with mold include:
Scratchy, sore, or itchy throat
Nasal congestion, runny nose, sneezing
Shortness of breath/breathing difficulties
Itchy or watery eyes
Sensitive or itchy skin
If such moisture is detected using infrared thermal imaging, the cost of remediation can be cut significantly and deterioration of a structure can be stopped. Water damage by itself can destroy a structure, so detecting the problem and fixing it quickly is the best course of action.
Infrared thermal imaging can also show possible gaps in insulation due to cold spots that can be detected with the infrared camera. These gaps can cause a home to run too hot or cold, depending on the issue. These gaps can also create scenarios in which water damage is more likely to occur and further structural damage can be done. The EPA has also been testing the use of infrared thermal cameras in detecting leaks, along with several other issues and concluded that such a device would “revolutionize the control of leaks.”
In Santa Clara County for example, a community for senior citizens was overrun with mold, due to improper construction of the building. It was not until further construction was being done to the building, that mold was detected in rather high quantities. A representative from the property management company in charge of complex stated that when he walked into the complex, “you see nothing, you smell nothing, and you feel nothing.” However, in this particular case, it was known that mold was in fact present in the building. With technology like infrared thermal imaging, the existence of possible moisture can be detected, and unlike in this case, walls do not need to be torn down to see if there is a problem first. This technology allows for more accurate decision making in terms of whether a structure has damage, it can allow for damage to be limited and costs of fixing the problem to be much lower.
After a problem has been detected, such as water leaks or damage, it can be fixed and other precautionary measures can be taken. Waterproofing, for example, can be done after such incidents to ensure that moisture seepage does not continue to happen. It is important to know what is going on in the walls of a building, not just for its structural integrity, but for the safety and health of its inhabitants.