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 millions of square feet now inspected annually across the globe.
Infrared could be applied to built up (BUR) and single ply roofing systems where either an insulating deck or a level of insulation is in direct & continuous connection with underneath of the roofing membrane. Thermography may be performed from aircraft or ground-based. With the correct equipment, and training, an infrared scan can detect and document problematic areas of moisture infiltration for all shapes and sizes of roofing structures.
Broadly speaking a really sensitive and higher resolution infrared camera is employed for flat roof infrared inspections commercial roof inspections. With higher reflective surfaces often requiring short wave infrared detectors, and for only higher reflective surfaces infrared might be not a viable solution for detection of premature roof failure due to moisture intrusion
For several reasons, many building property managers and owners do not perform routine roof maintenance of any kind. Often the idea of if it isn’t broken then there’s no reason to correct it. So if the roof isn’t leaking, there’s no motivation to do predictive maintenance inspections of any type. Most of the time infrared technology is, more regularly than not, used only following a roof has started failure or as a good assurance tool for new installations and retrofits.
An average low slope or flat roof has a life expectancy of only ten years before it begins to enter stages of failure due to moisture intrusion. By having an annual infrared detection scan roof life could be extended upwards of 300 percent. By having an average roof replacement costing of upwards of twenty dollar per square foot, an annual infrared inspection makes huge economic sense.