Flat roof infrared scans were first used to detect moisture and mold within flat and low slope roofs in the 1970’s. Ever since then its usage has steadily increased with an incredible number of square feet now inspected annually throughout the globe.
Infrared could be placed on built up (BUR) and single ply roofing systems where either an insulating deck or a layer of insulation is in direct & continuous connection with the lower 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.
Broadly 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 might be not a feasible solution for detection of premature roof failure because of moisture intrusion
For all reasons, many building property managers and owners do not perform routine roof maintenance of any kind. Often the concept of when it isn’t broken then there is no reason to correct it commercial roof inspections. So if the roof is not leaking, there is no motivation to execute predictive maintenance inspections of any type. Most of the time infrared technology is, more often than not, used only after having a roof has begun failure or as a quality assurance tool for new installations and retrofits.
An average low slope or flat roof includes a life span 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 up to 3 hundred percent. With an average roof replacement costing of up to twenty dollar per square foot, an annual infrared inspection makes huge economic sense.