Book Review: IRT for Building Moisture Inspection

In this blog, I will be reviewing a compilation of case studies called:  Infrared Thermography for Building Moisture Inspection by Eva Barreira and Ricardo Almeida. It is published by Springer and is part of the SpringerBriefs series which sets out with the aim of presenting concise summaries of cutting-edge research.

This book is aimed at academics looking to read about research in the field of thermography. So if you are a surveyor or someone with a passing interest in thermography this is not going to be for you.

This compilation of academic research presents the results of a number of case studies where thermographic techniques are evaluated with the aim of judging how well a thermographic technique works when evaluating moisture in building materials. Each case study looks at a scenario and then discusses the results of that particular case study. After the case studies, there are no further chapters tying the case studies together or making any overarching conclusions.

The authors are based in Portugal, this is important to note as the case studies would show a different result if conducted in the UK due to different building materials and climatic conditions.

Analysing the Case Studies

The first case study was looking at the measurement of the surface temperature various material types using different devices. This case study looked at a bunch of scenarios and compared the performance of infrared thermography with an infrared thermometer and thermocouples. One of the main findings from this chapter is acknowledging the pitfalls with IRT when measured under direct solar radiation.

The next chapter looked at infrared thermography in relation to assessing moisture in controlled conditions.  There are no bombshell findings in this chapter as the findings are what would reasonably be expected. The chapter concluded that IRT can be good for assessing rising damp but notes that it is not accurate when assessing subsurface moisture as thermography can only detect surface temperature.

The third chapter was more of the same but this time looked at more realistic scenarios of rising and penetrating damp with buildings that were in use. This chapter outlines how the likes of a ventilation grille can throw off results making it look like there is a leak when there is not. The conclusion of this chapter is that infrared cameras can be used as a tool for diagnosing building dampness but should not be used in isolation but as part of a suite of tools using a holistic approach.

The final case study looks at infrared thermography to assess the drying process of exterior walls after a period of rain. This case study concluded that solar radiation can strongly influence the results seen through thermal imaging. No conclusion is made as to when is the best time of day to carry out an external survey or if certain months of the year are more preferable. It notes that air temperature significantly influenced the surface temperature of the areas studied which to me is like saying water is wet. With this being said, the author does make an interesting point that it is possible to assess the drying process of walls when comparing results against days with similar weather conditions.

Conclusion

This book does not go into the practicalities of using thermography for a diagnostic technique for dampness in buildings nor does it really go into defining the causes of dampness in any satisfying detail. Whilst the work is very well referenced and researched there are no bombshell revelations to be found in this work.

If you are a student who is looking for a reference when discussing the use of thermographic cameras this book might be right down your alley however if you are a surveyor who is looking for a book to further understand the practical use of thermal cameras in assessing damp buildings you will find this book to be lacking somewhat.

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