Infrared Imaging: Roof Leak Detection Goes High-Tech

You probably know that buckling shingles, algae growth, rot, and ceiling spots are signs of a leaking roof. However, you will not see these symptoms at the early stages of the damage. If you want to detect early signs of water leak before it causes damage, then turn to technology.

Roofing technicians who have embraced technology employ infrared imaging, a leak detection method that involves scanning the roof with a device that detects infrared radiation (radiant energy invisible to the naked eye):

How it Works

Infrared rays are energy waves just like light rays, but you cannot see them with your naked eyes. They have the ability to detect temperature variations, and it is this ability that allows them to be used to detect roof leaks.

Roofing contractors have infrared cameras that emit the radiation and scan the roof's surface. Different materials give off different temperatures. This means areas with leaks (meaning they have trapped moisture beneath them) have different heat signatures from other parts of the roof.

Why it's Possible 

Infrared leak detection is possible because, if your roof structures are damaged, they will allow water to get into the underlayment and get trapped. The moisture may even penetrate and reach the lower surface of the roof. During the day, the whole roof gets heated, but as hinted above, different materials absorb and retain heat differently and also cools at different rates.

As the roof is cooling, the roof areas with trapped moisture will have different temperatures from the undamaged areas of the roof. The infrared camera measures these temperatures and generates a corresponding heat map. The roof technician then marks the damaged areas and returns for a thorough inspection under the clarity of daylight.

The Requirements

Apart from the tools and equipment such as an infrared camera and a marker, there are also certain conditions that are necessary for a perfect scanning session:

  • It's best suited for the evening hours when the whole roof has been heated and has started to cool down
  • Sunny days are best because the better the roof is heated, the better the temperature difference that the materials will give
  • The roof surface should be dry to minimize interference of the infrared scanning

The next time you suspect tiny leaks on your roof, why not contact a roofing contractor who has embraced technology in his or her line of work? High-tech may not substitute the skill and experience of a contractor, but it sure helps a lot. Who knows, it might just help you to detect leaks that might have gone unnoticed for a long time, thereby helping to prevent considerable damage.