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IR Experiment 1


Chris Bernhardt
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This experiment demonstrates the need to scan for moisture with a moisture meter and why an IR camera shouldn't be used as a decision point.

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My kitchen counter top dry at the start of the experiment.

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What the thermal camera saw at the start of the experiment.

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The film of water left by swiping a damp sponge across the counter.

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I laid a piece of plastic wrap over the film of water and measured it with my moisture meter then let it normalize with the ambient air for an hour.

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After an hour this is what the IR camera saw and my moisture meter was still reading the same.

Chris, Oregon

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Yesterday I went back to a mfg. home to do a reinspect and brought along the IR camera. I was particularly interested in looking at a floor and wall adjacent to an exterior door that was showing a definite pattern of moisture intrusion when I scanned it with the Tramex, but when I looked at the same area with the IR camera it didn't show anything.

My theory is that unless there has been substantial moisture intrusion to the point that the thermal conductance of the wall, ceiling or floor that you are looking at has been affected and assuming a decent thermal gradient across them, the IR camera isn't going to pick anything up.

Also if the surfaces have an effective vapor barrier like paint or a vinyl floor covering then you're not going to pick up differences due to evaporation.

I had already performed some similar experiments with my moisture meter that demonstrated that my Tramex can't tell the difference between a thin film of moisture or a saturated substrate.

I will bring you more demonstrations soon.

Chris, Oregon

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Follow up to the first experiment.

This experiment demonstrates evaporative cooling.

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IR image of dry counter top.

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IR image of film of moisture covered by clear plastic wrap.

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IR image after applied film of water has equalized with room surounding surfaces.

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IR image a few moments after plastic wrap was removed.

Chris, Oregon

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Originally posted by Chris Bernhardt

Yesterday I went back to a mfg. home to do a reinspect and brought along the IR camera. I was particularly interested in looking at a floor and wall adjacent to an exterior door that was showing a definite pattern of moisture intrusion when I scanned it with the Tramex, but when I looked at the same area with the IR camera it didn't show anything.

My theory is that unless there has been substantial moisture intrusion to the point that the thermal conductance of the wall, ceiling or floor that you are looking at has been affected and assuming a decent thermal gradient across them, the IR camera isn't going to pick anything up.

For something like the MH floor, you might try turning up the heat in the MH for an hour or so, then looking at the floor again. I'll bet that the wet areas light right up.

Also if the surfaces have an effective vapor barrier like paint or a vinyl floor covering then you're not going to pick up differences due to evaporation.

That was what was in your last picture, right? There was a bit of water trapped between the laminate countertop and the plastic wrap. After it the tempertures equalized, the IR showed nothing.

But that hardly ever happens in a building. The water can usually evaporate somewhere and that will lower its temperature. I suppose the issue then becomes a question of whether or not the temperature difference is great enough for the camera to see.

I had already performed some similar experiments with my moisture meter that demonstrated that my Tramex can't tell the difference between a thin film of moisture or a saturated substrate.

I will bring you more demonstrations soon.

Chris, Oregon

I'd like to see what it does with brick veneer. Find a house with brick veneer -- Paul Frey's house might have some -- and use a garden hose to pour a bunch of water behind the brick. Then stand back and see what Flir says.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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