Micro drilling test on a piling using the IML RESI F300-S - USDA Forest Products Laboratory reportThermal Imaging for Structural Wood Damage Assessment
How experts try to use thermography to assess the structural integrity of wood framing or wood timbers in-situ

  • WOOD BEAM ROT ASSESS: THERMOGRAPHY - CONTENTS: assessment of the effectiveness of the use of thermal imaging or thermography to detect wood rot
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about methods used in testing structural wood members for damage or decay & the role of micro-drilling tests for in-situ evaluation of structural wood beams, timbers, or other framing members in buildings..

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Using thermal imaging (thermography) for determining the soundness of wood structural members:

Really? This article discusses the role of thermal imaging in assessing the condition of wood structural members such as beams, timbers, joists, rafters, posts.

This article series surveys methods used to test & evaluate the structural integrity of wood-framed buildings where focus is on the condition of structural wood posts, beams and other framing members. We discuss the problems surrounding hidden rot or decay, the presence or absence of moisture or other instrument-detectable clues, and the problem of subjective decisions to replace or not-replace suspect wood structural members.

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Are Thermal Images Reliable for Spotting Areas of Extra Risk of Structural Rot Damage or Hidden Mold in Buildings?

Thermal image example, Paul Probett, Incodo 2008Paul Probett, Clinton Craig, Blake Probett, Incodo Forensic Building Specialists [1]

This article series is adapted & expanded from the author's "An Introduction to Micro-Drilling Technology for N. Z. Structural Timber Assessment" and is used with permission. We [DF] have added comments, some illustrations, and additional article citations.

At the references section we include a link to the original article as well as contact information for the authors and Incodo Ltd., a Tauranga, New Zealand forensic engineering firm.

[Click to enlarge any image or illustration]

OPINION: DF: Thermal images and IR have been widely used with some success at spotting areas of heat loss in buildings and these tools have a longer history of use in examining overheated electrical connections, motors, etc. But for finding hidden mold, moisture, rot, or structural damage, thermography is a risky proposition.

Thermography, based on observing temperature differences, reports just that: temperature differences. In some but not all circumstances, a temperature variation in a building may relate to a leak or moisture presence that in turn might indicate an area where there is risk of rot. But what if an old leak caused rot damage but has now dried out? In short, as with any study, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence of a problem.

Image at above left, courtesy Paul Probett, Incodo [1]

Watch out: in the hands of the un-trained or unscrupulous these and other tools can wreak havoc or harm to consumers. The most egregious instrument snafu I've come across [DF] recently was a Hudson Valley New York "mold remediator" uses an IR camera to tell his clients where the hidden mold is located in their home - it was a modern version of the guy with the light meter who sold people replacement windows by showing clients where their heat loss was occurring - wherever there was light.

I did find areas of basement water entry and moldy insulation - in an area not addressed by the New York mold-thermographer. Details about using thermal imaging to look for hidden mold are

Paul Probett adds: We had major problems with people buying thermal imagers, using ex military units and making ridiculous claims. In 2008 I gave a power-point presentation [25] to a conference explaining how IR results can be fudged and I described the limitations of thermal imagers.  (Our staff had been through the Infraspection Institute USA on-line course to level 2 the year before).

Mr. Probett's power point presentation on using thermography in building damage or mold surveys is adapted and expanded

For thermal building heat loss screening
see HOUSE DOCTOR, how-to be, and

for a more broad look at spotting air leaks and heat losses


Note: Above information is copyright, commercially sensitive and is yet to be peer reviewed. It is not to be copied or circulated without the express and written permission of Incodo Limited. Adapted here by, with permission from Incodo 8/5/2012, technical review is in process.

V4a 06/12 - ####


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