Why Choose Aerial Infrared?

Aerial roof moisture surveys provide a more comprehensive and accurate way to detect roof moisture issues. This infrared roof scan method provides more useful data to decision makers than walk-on surveys are able to provide.

GIF showing different stages of an infrared roof scan

Advantages of Aerial Infrared Roof Scanning

The biggest advantage of an aerial infrared roof scan comes from the ease of scanning roofs that would otherwise be difficult to image. Roofs that, for instance, have a lot of ballast, are covered with reflective coatings, or for whatever reason are impossible to image from the roof.

With high-resolution, plan view aerial imagery, slight nuances of temperature can be seen from far enough away to actually see the pattern of heat and pinpoint where the exact location of issues are.

Fixed-Wing ‘Plan View’ Aerial Infrared
  • High-resolution images capture large areas at once, making report writing easier and less expensive to produce.
  • Plan view allows for infrared images, visual images and AutoCAD drawings to be reconciled closely. As a result, the report is clear, concise and easy to understand.
  • Plan view imaging allows accurate marking of areas of suspect roof moisture contamination.
  • The printed AutoCAD drawings can be used on the roof to paint areas of moisture contamination directly on the roof (after verification), if desired.
  • The trending of roof moisture becomes possible.
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  • Further processing can be done on roof areas of specific concern. The report components are as follows in order by cost:
    • Unedited videotape: The raw videotape of the infrared flight over the building.
    • Edited videotape: An edited videotape can be made from the original digital video.
    • Printed thermographs: Printed infrared thermographs of each roof section can be captured and printed in high-resolution.
    • Aerial photographs: Printed digital and/or conventional photographs of the roof (straight down) and site (beauty shots of the building and property) can be printed. Note: A straight down photograph of a roof section aids significantly in the infrared analysis, showing stains, equipment and roof boundaries, etc.
    • AutoCAD drawings: Accurate AutoCAD drawings can be made, then printed and saved to a disk
    • Digital and printed report: A complete quantitative aerial infrared roof moisture survey report would include all of the above, printed in high resolution and saved to a CD.


Infrared Roof Scan Basics

During the day, the sun radiates energy onto the roof and into the roof substrate. At night, the roof radiates the heat back into outer space through radiational cooling. Areas of the roof that are of a higher mass (wet) retain this heat longer than that of the lower mass (dry) areas. Infrared imagers can detect this heat and “see” the warmer, higher mass areas, during the “window” of uneven heat dissipation.

A dry roof, low winds and no rain are needed on the night of the survey. This “window” when the roof is radiating heat differently from wet and dry areas is longer with aerial infrared because slight nuances of temperatures over large areas are recognizable. A high angle of view and high resolution are needed to produce usable imagery.

We use state-of-the-art large-format infrared cameras, which have at least 512 x 512 staring array detectors (262,144 pixels). From an altitude of 1,200 – 1,500 feet above the roof with over a quarter of a million pixels, the ground resolution element is about six inches square.

Visual photographs are taken earlier in the day or the next day. Both visual and infrared images are used to do the analysis by overlaying the AutoCAD drawing of the roof ‘over’ the digitized photographs and thermographs. These drawings are then created indicating areas of suspected moisture contamination. The resulting report contains visual, infrared and AutoCAD components (printed and video) which are well matched and lined-up.


Roof Maintenance in General

Waterproofing problems manifest themselves in two ways: Leakage and entrained moisture contamination. While leakage can seem straightforward, the leak inside the building rarely points to the exact source of the issue on the roof. Water often flows down the slope of the roof to a spot that is not sealed and into the building from there. Most leaks occur where the waterproofing is sealed or where there is a penetration of the roof. Since most roof systems will absorb some amount of water, finding the exact spot of water contamination in the insulation can be challenging. Leaks may not present themselves until the building has absorbed all the water it can hold.

There are three types of surveys used to find water issues in a roof: Nuclear gauges (which count neutrons), capacitance meters (which measure resistance), and infrared (which measures heat). Both nuclear gauges and capacitance meters are used to take spot readings on a 5’ X 5’, 10′ X 10′ or 20′ X 20′ grid on the roof. The readings obtained from these gauges are used to determine where the water is originating from. These types of surveys are very costly and labor-intensive. They are typically good for roofs that do not gain or lose much solar energy and therefore do not lend themselves to infrared.