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Homing in on hot spots

Heat mapping, or thermal imaging, is an important aspect of a modern survey, says John Pullen.

As we move to more energy efficient buildings, ensuring that heat losses are being minimised is a crucial part of any survey.

It is now a simple process, using a small handheld thermal imaging camera, to quickly gain a wealth of information about the performance of many aspects of a building, from insulation to heating and window seals to the electrical installation.

An external thermal image reveals areas where heat is escaping from the building. The software will often colour these images blue to represent cold areas (no heat escaping) and red to represent warm areas (heat escaping). These images can then be used to focus future works to areas where insulation has been missed or has failed over time. 

The same technique can be applied to windows and doors to ensure that seals are functioning correctly and identify areas where draughts are entering theproperty.

With more electrical systems being added to buildings, from solar panels to electric vehicle chargers, there is the possibility of dangerous overloading of cables and equipment. The thermal imaging camera can be used to view these installations to ensure that hot spots are not developing which could lead to future failure or firerisk.

Similarly many devices – from heat pumps, underfloor heating and solar panels down to simple fridges and freezers – can easily be inspected to ensure that they are operating correctly and that all of their seals and insulation are performing properly such that their low energy credentials are being fully realised. An A+++ appliance is only energy efficient if it is operating correctly.

With ever increasing energy prices, developing and using an up-to-date toolkit is one of the ways a modern surveyor can contribute to the drive towards greater energy efficiency.