What is thermal imaging of the building?

Temperature imaging is a method used to visualize thermal imaging of the building and quantify temperature differences across surfaces. Even small temperature differences can be measured as low as 0.1°C. A large surface area can be imaged rapidly with this technique. Because it is non-destructive and non-contact, it can be advantageous in some applications, such as electrical inspections.

What is thermal imaging of the building?

Using thermal imaging of the building will enable you to determine the state and behavior of many aspects of that building, revealing structural deficiencies visually. Some of the uses include:
• Infiltration of water and moisture detection.
• Observation of thermal bridges.
• Voids.
• Cracks or delamination.
• Assessing the effectiveness of insulation and locating air leakage and heat loss areas.

Related posts : Types of thermal cameras

You can accurately image anything that produces a thermal contrast on a surface using thermal imaging of the building you are inspecting.
The image you produce looks similar to that of a digital photographic camera. However, rather than utilize visible light, these cameras use infrared radiation (IR), a wavelength outside the range in which a human can see (0.4-0.76 *m) that is invisible to the human eye. While no single camera covers the whole range of wavelengths used by IR cameras, they work with wavelengths between 2 and 14 μm. IR cameras can be used in a variety of applications. The detection of medium wave infrared (2-5 μm) is helpful in a variety of specialist laboratories, medical and military applications.

Cameras used for Thermal imaging of the buildings detect long wave IR (8-14 μm). Though higher-spec IR cameras are typically used for taking single images, they can also take time-lapse or video images. There are also lenses that permit telephoto and wide-angle photography. Wide-angle lenses can be particularly useful for thermal imaging of a building when working indoors in small spaces or outside to capture large expanses of building facades in a single image.

Thermal cameras do not have the same resolution as photographic cameras. High-end IR cameras have a resolution of up to 640×480 pixels, while low-cost IR cameras have a resolution of about 60×60 pixels. The thermal sensitivity of IR cameras also varies (the difference in temperature they can detect). A thermal image has more detail when the detector is more sensitive, especially when temperature differences are minor and especially when it comes to thermal imaging of a building.

The wavelengths of infrared light we are interested in (8-14 μm) don’t pass through glass. In other words, the camera cannot detect anything behind glass. Furthermore, long-wavelength IR cameras do not use glass lenses; they use germanium lenses.
Infrared radiation is emitted by all objects above absolute zero (-273°C). When something is warm, it emits more infrared radiation. The radiation intensity is converted to a visual image (or ‘thermogram’) with each pixel representing a temperature. This is the basis of thermal imaging of a building.

There are several color schemes to choose from. Your choice will depend on the illustration. The ‘iron’ color scheme is often used to illustrate heat losses because it highlights hot spots in white and yellow. A ‘rainbow’ color scheme emphasizes colder areas by emphasizing colder colors like blues and purples to illustrate dampness or draughts. An anomaly is an inconsistency in thermal imaging of the building you are inspecting, and it may indicate problems with the fabric of the building.

Radiograms are more than just images; they are ‘radiometric’ images, where each pixel represents a particular temperature. As a result, cross-sections or selected areas of data can be exported to spreadsheets for further analysis or to visualize a temperature profile graphically. An ordinary digital image is useful because a complex thermal image is not always easy to understand. Without an accompanying visual image, it may be challenging to identify an anomaly on a wall that appears visually uniform when thermal imaging of a building is being done. As part of the thermal image capture, most thermal cameras capture a digital image in the same orientation as the thermal image does. This helps thermal imaging of a building much easier as well.


A temperature contrast is necessary to capture useful thermal images. When a building is not heated externally (through solar heating, for example), all surfaces tend to be at a similar temperature. No useful information can be gleaned from this situation. In the absence of heat, a damp spot on a wall will have the same temperature as an adjacent dry spot.

It is necessary to observe an object while it is warming up or cooling down (above or below ambient temperature) in order to obtain useful data. Thermal images are better when the temperature contrast is more significant. The sharpest temperature contrast between the interiors and exteriors of buildings occurs during the winter months, which is why most thermal imaging of the building process for heat loss occurs in the winter.

It is possible to heat your home with artificial sources, such as domestic heating or solar energy. As needed, additional heaters can be added to the domestic heating system in the thermal imaging of the building process. Before thermal imaging, it is recommended that a building be warmed to at least 10°C above ambient temperature for about 24 hours.

A longer period of heating may be required to see structures and voids beneath the immediate surface, so that heat can penetrate to the required depth. Compared to a domestic setting, massed stone structures might have significantly greater wall thicknesses, which requires longer heating times and higher heating intensity.

Please keep in mind that intense heat may not be suitable for some spaces if they contain materials that may be damaged, such as wood that may shrink or fragile painted plaster. The thermographer must utilize any heating that can be safely achieved in such cases when thermal imaging of the building is needed.

Weather and time of day affect the effectiveness of thermal imaging of a building outdoors. The wind reduces the difference in temperature between hot and cold areas by chilling surfaces, thus removing abnormal heat from the surface. Thermal imaging of the building will probably not succeed when the wind speed exceeds 20mph (approximately 10 m/s). It is not recommended to observe wetting patterns on buildings when the surface is wet (or recently wet), because evaporative cooling will cause the imaging to confuse the thermal emissions.

During the hours of darkness, it is necessary to carry out thermal imaging of a building in order to observe heat losses from structures when solar heating is not a factor. Ideally, it would be best to carry out a heat loss survey in the early morning before sunrise. During this time, any heat generated by the sun on the previous day has a chance to dissipate.


Thermal imaging of a building is very effective in locating dampness. As moisture is evaporated from the surface of warmed surfaces, moist patches remain relatively cool. If moisture is confined to a depth, as may be the case in a solid masonry structure, the situation becomes more complex. It is only possible to cool by evaporation when water is near or on the surface. In case trapped moisture below the surface and the heating intensity and duration are sufficient, trapped water will appear as a hot spot. Different thermal capacities of water and walls cause this potentially confusing effect. A mass of water under a wall will remain warm longer than dry stone, thus appearing as a warm patch during cooling. Dry walls change their temperature more rapidly than wet walls, whether they are cooling down or warming up.

The cause of some damp problems may not be water infiltration but condensation. When the air temperature and relative humidity are input, IR thermography, which displays surface temperatures, can predict areas at risk of condensation. Depending on the camera, dewpoint calculation may be performed, and condensation risk may be indicated as a different color overlay on the thermal image.


Infrared cameras only see surface temperatures, but they also can reveal deeper structure information that may affect surface temperatures. Observe how warm patches of water appear on the surface of a masonry wall if there is a mass of warm water within the wall. When thermal bridging occurs, an observation of the inside of a heated building will reveal a cold patch with unusually high heat flow to the outside. In contrast, observation of the outside of the building will reveal a hot patch.

It is often possible to find clues to subsurface structures from patterns of heat flow. A source of heat can be identified within a structure or behind it. In addition to showing the location of warm flues in gable walls, thermography can be used to locate hot water and heating pipes as well as to visualize the performance of underfloor heating. Therefore, it can be helpful to locate problems without tearing down walls or floors.

Despite the fact that solar heating often causes problems with imaging, it is nonetheless quite useful in some cases. It is most easy for heat to penetrate a structure without thermal barriers when it is exposed to the sun. Whenever there are voids, blisters, detached harling, or roughcast on the outside of a sunlit wall, heat tends to be trapped on the outside compared to adjacent solid materials. One can use this method to detect detached external finishes on sunlit walls.


Thermography can be a powerful tool for studying energy efficiency due to its ability to visualize heat. The presence of excessive heat loss can easily be identified in a structure. We will have to conduct further investigation to determine whether the failure resulted from the lack of insulation, the leakage of air, or something else.


U-values are often referred to as insulation values of building materials. A material’s thermal transmittance is measured with this term. There are methods for determining U-values from thermal images since the thermal camera measures radiant heat loss from surfaces. Several assumptions impact the results, and local conditions can also be important. In situ-heat flow, sensors can yield more reliable U-values than thermal imaging data. Thermographic images display data at just one particular time point. Whenever you do thermal imaging of a building, you should keep this in mind.

It is a problem when air leaks cause energy to be wasted or condensation to occur. A thermal camera can be used to detect air leaks, primarily if it’s used in conjunction with a blower door that’s used to reduce the air pressure in buildings. Air leaks will appear as cooler areas as air is drawn into the structure using the IR camera on the lower pressure side (inside). Rather than seeing the airflow itself, the camera sees the cooling effect on nearby surfaces.


Detection of thermal anomalies can be done quickly through imaging, but the cause is not always apparent. In fact, draughts are often mistaken for damp patches when causing cold spots. Corners of rooms tend to be colder than the rest of the room, and this does not represent a problem; warm air cannot circulate so well in corners, and their external surface area is large enough for the heat to radiate from them. In order to ensure that what has been observed is not a normal variation in temperature, it is vital to confirm that it is an anomaly. In order to determine the cause of the temperature anomaly, the area in question should be compared to other comparable areas. A further home inspection is often necessary to confirm. Depending on the building plan, moisture sensors may be used or careful inspection might be needed.

3D laser scanning can sometimes be combined with thermal imaging of the building to provide 3D thermal images. There is particular value in such systems in complex buildings where the relationship between different structural elements may be challenging to comprehend. The ability to visualize thermal data in three dimensions may make it easier to trace water leaks through a complex structure to identify their source.

It is essential not to take a thermal image at face value. A detailed examination is always necessary to confirm quality thermal imaging diagnostics for buildings.

Thermal imaging of the building is very cost-saving if it is done in a proper way. We hope you have enjoyed reading this article and can decide better about buying a thermal camera for your building or when you want to do a thermal imaging inspection.

Follow skycondor on Twitter.

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Recent Posts


Subscribe for our monthly newsletter to stay updated