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Roof and Ceiling Leak Detection

February 11th, 2010

An infrared inspection of your roof can detect eveidence of latent moisture within your roof cavities and it can determine the potential for ice dams, plugged drains, and water retention that may cause roof damage and/or leakage which could lead to serious damage to your living area if not detected on-time. Roofing materials are very expensive to replace and the repairs can cost you roughly $20.00 or more a square foot. My infrared roof evaluation you can save you a bundle (in the long run) by knowing if certain roof sections need minor repair now to avoid major repair or replacement later, or to simply determine if the whole entire roof needs to be replaced in the not-so-distant future. Thermal imaging can give you the existing roof information in a nice neat visual package.

This EPDM roof looks great visually, but a major moisture build-up (under the rubber membrane) was easily detected utilizing my infrared camera.

During a home inspection, roof leaks are typically discovered by my direct observations and then confirmed by utilizing moisture meters on the sheathing below. But if I detect a moist area and the roof sheathing is not visible from below (such as a finished cathedral ceiling or a ceiling below a living area) the exact area of the leak can not be determined. Most homeowners have the misconception that moisture stains are caused from leaks that are directly above a wet area. It’s just not true in most situations. On gable roofs, some leaks occur at the ridge line area and cling to the rafters for quite a distance until it finally drips onto the ceiling below. In order for anyone to locate the exact area of the leak, the damaged ceiling must first be removed. This removal is necessary in order to “visualize” the exact intrusion point at the underside of the roof sheathing. Now before any of the ceilings can be removed, all the furniture must be removed from below the affected area. Then the floor must be protected from the falling debris and possibly requiring a scaffold system. All of this can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars! Infrared Thermography is an invaluable non-destructive and non-contact tool that can detect and pinpoint hidden roof leaks without even damaging the interior or exterior surfaces. Then once I pinpoint the problem area, minimum surface areas can be removed in order to make the necessary repairs.

I prefer to perform all exterior flat roof inspections in the early evening hours. In order to perform the infrared inspection correctly, I require solar heating of a hot sunny day to heat up the roof surface. Then in the early evening (after the sun goes down), the roof starts to cool allowing my infrared camera to be able to detect obvious thermal differences (anomalies) if there are any moisture intrusions within the roof surface. Thermal properties of water are very unique (high thermal capacity), allowing water to be thermally observed on the surface and on the underside of roofing materials. If water is actively seeping into the cavity of a roof surface, the dry roof insulation will cool much faster than the soggy wet roof insulation, making it possible for me to observe the thermal differences.

My infrared roof inspections have proven to be a beneficial option for testing sub-surface roof areas that can not be seen visually. Regularly scheduled infrared roof inspections will allow you to find moisture damage and water leaks that have not yet become apparent. This is the most cost-effective approach to any roof maintenance. I have the knowledge and experience to correctly acquire and interpret roof infrared inspection data to you and then provide you with a professional easy-to-understand infrared roof report within hours of your inspection.

Visually, this roof structure looks good, but infrared imaging detects anomalies immediately.

The source of this roof leak was unable to be located visually, but my infrared camera detected the exact source of the leak immediately.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Infrared imaging will detect concealed issues.

See more information regarding INFRARED and THERMAL IMAGING on my website at http://www.massinfrared.com

This blog entry was posted by David Valley.

Ice Dams and Infrared (Thermal) Imaging

March 3rd, 2009

Ice dams in Massachusetts are a nuisance and can cause expensive damage to soffit areas, roof sheathing, gutters, and the most outer portion of living area walls.  These ice build-ups can be alleviated, but each house tends to have different reasons for the ice to accumulate in the first place.  First, let me explain how this massive ice mound forms on the edge of your roof, then we’ll discuss prevention.

  • Your roof accumulates snow.
  • The outside temperature drops to below freezing.
  • The temperature inside your attic is above freezing, thus raising the temperature of your roofing material to above freezing.
  • Because of the temperature differential and the warmer roof, the snow on top of the roof starts to slowly melt and the melted snow (now water) starts to cascade down the roof (underneath all the accumulated snow) in an attempt to drain off the roof or into your gutters.
  • As soon as the water reaches the outer edge of the roof (where the roof will not be as warm as the attic cavity) it gets exposed to the freezing air. The cascading water now freezes into an ice mound (that literally clings to your roofing material) along the edges of your roof and the gutters (if applicable).
  • As more and more melted snow (water) continues to cascade down your roof, it continues to freeze behind and on top of the previously frozen run off, forming a much larger ice dam. Once this ice dam takes shape, it will literally trap any water that is attempting to drain down and off the roof. Now, all the melting water is dammed and has nowhere to drain to, so it builds up. This accumulating water is simply backing up and is forced right under your roofing material and into your attic or soffit cavity (and then gravity takes over), and this water infiltration simply drips down onto your living area walls, causing the nuisance staining and damage that you are observing throughout your walls.

Preventing this ice from forming on the edge of your roof in the first place is absolutely possible.  Many homeowners are continuously researching articles on “HOW TO PREVENT ICE DAMS” and they learn that proper insulation and ventilation is necessary to prevent these ice dams. After most homeowners obtain their education on “HOW TO PREVENT ICE DAMS” they may attempt to correct their ice dam situation, but are still baffled and are unable to figure out exactly where these improvements are needed. That’s why they call me.

The solution to alleviate your ice dam issues is the use of Infrared technology. My infrared inspection is a brilliant method of providing you with an instant snapshot of any active heat loss through the most outer portion of your walls and ceilings of your home. Thermal imaging will visually show thermal mapping of any improperly insulated ceiling and wall cavities that are causing the ice damming at the outer roof edges of your home.

Take a look at the images below and see how easy Infrared detects un-insulated/problematic cavities where ice dams were occurring…

Infrared clearly detects cold air (blue color) infiltrating the living area:

Infrared detects an entire ceiling cavity missing insulation:

Thermal imaging detects cold spots from improperly installed soffit vents:

Infrared detects insulation issues above this bathroom ceiling:

If you have ice dam problems, and Infrared inspection will help you determine the best form of remediation.

This blog entry was posted by David Valley.

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