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Roofing Technology

Technology within the roofing industry has advanced dramatically within the last 10 years. This post is going to review some of the new technology and how it can be utilized for roofing purposes.

4/10/2023 by Paul J Petkosh, RRO

IR (Infrared) Roof Scans

For roofing purposes, these are almost always performed at night. An IR camera is used to capture thermal images (thermographs) which depict temperatures on a colored scale.

IR Thermograph of Commercial Roof Showing Wet Insulation

IR thermograph of a commcial roof. The yellow area indicates wet insulation.

The process works by detecting temperature differences caused by changes to the insulation below a roofing membrane. When insulation becomes saturated with moisture it loses the

ability to insulate, which means it can no longer effectively resist thermal gain. This is very important because the wet insulation will gain thermal energy during the day, whereas dry insulation will not experience this thermal gain. At night, the wet insulation will have a higher temperature than dry insulation, which the IR camera can detect and display as a visible image. This method is extremely useful for determining if roofs are in good condition beyond what is visible to the naked eye. It can also be used to locate leaks that have no visible evidence to the naked eye.

The images below were taken during a follow-up investigation to the IR scan in the above image. Note the green circle, which shows physical damage through all layers of the roofing membrane. There has never been a leak reported on this roof section, likely due to a combination of a concrete deck and moisture absorption into the roofing components. This type of physical damage can be extremely easy to overlook on a routine visual roof inspection, especially in the absence of any reported leaks.

IR Follow Up Showing Area Identified as Wet Insulation
Roof Defect Identified Via IR Scan
Wet Roofing Insulation Discovered Via IR Scan of Roof

Moisture Meters

There are several different kinds of moisture meters that can be used for roofing. These include impedance meters, nuclear meters, and resistance meters. Impedance moisture meters, which tend to be universally referred to as Tramex meters, are the most commonly used moisture meters for roofing applications.

Tramex Roof and Wall Scanner In Use Showing Wet Insulation

Tramex Roof and Wall Scanner, showing approximately 80% saturation of the insulation at this measurement point on the roof.

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