Flat roof infrared scans were first used to detect moisture and mold within flat and low slope roofs in the 1970’s. Since then its usage has steadily increased with an incredible number of square feet now inspected annually across the globe.
Infrared can be put on accumulated (BUR) and single ply roofing systems where either an insulating deck or a layer of insulation is in direct & continuous contact with the underside of the roofing membrane. Thermography may be performed from aircraft or ground-based. With the appropriate equipment, and training, an infrared scan can detect and document problematic aspects of moisture infiltration for several shapes and sizes of roofing structures.
Most of the time a really sensitive and higher resolution infrared camera is used for flat roof infrared inspections. With higher reflective surfaces often requiring short wave infrared detectors, and for only higher reflective surfaces infrared may also be not a viable solution for detection of premature roof failure due to moisture intrusion
For many reasons, many building property managers and owners do not perform routine roof maintenance of any kind commercial flat roof inspections. Often the concept of when it isn’t broken then there’s no reason to fix it. So if the roof isn’t leaking, there’s no motivation to do predictive maintenance inspections of any type. All of the time infrared technology is, more regularly than not, used only following a roof has begun failure or as an excellent assurance tool for new installations and retrofits.
A typical low slope or flat roof has a life span of only 10 years before it begins to enter stages of failure due to moisture intrusion. By having an annual infrared detection scan roof life can be extended upwards of 3 hundred percent. By having an average roof replacement costing of upwards of twenty dollar per square foot, an annual infrared inspection makes huge economic sense.