Infrared Inspections

Thermal imaging, using an infrared camera. is an amazing and very useful technology.  To simplify your understanding, the infrared camera
cannot record any visual images.  Instead, it records temperature differences of surfaces.  The surface temperature it sees can be passing through the object, radiating directly from the object, or being reflected off the object.  Proper training is mandatory to correctly use the infrared camera.  It is definitely not a "point & shoot" technology.

There are 3 levels of training for an infrared thermographer, based on ASNT standards.  Forest City Electric's thermographer has completed all 3 levels of training.

Need an infrared thermographer?

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ASNT Standard

ASNT has defined the standards for Infrared Thermal Imaging,
as well as other non-destructive testing technologies.

Infrared Thermography Qualifications

Since ASNT does not offer training, other organizations
fill that need, for example, FLIR's Infrared Training Centre,
which trains Infrared Thermographers according to the
ASNT standards.  There are 3 levels of this training, and
Forest City Electric's technician has achieved all 3.

Infrared Image #1

This is a thermographic image of an electrical panelboard with the cover off.  In this example, the "Rainbow" setting shows the temperature differences with multiple colours.  Attractive for presentations, but not as readily clear as the more simple settings.

Infrared Image #2

This is another electrical panelboard.  The breaker in the upper right appears to be a "hot spot", however, in this case it is only showing that there is electrical current passing through it.  The other apparent "hot spots" are actually indications of the room environment, reflected off the metal.  These are normal conditions, often misunderstood by technicians with little or no infrared training.

Infrared Image #3

This is an infrared image of a copper pipe, with what appears to be a "hot spot" in the centre area of the pipe.

Hot Water Tank

This is where the #3 infrared image was recorded.  The "hot spot" is actually a section of the pipe with electrical tape wrapped around it.  The true temperature is the same as the adjacent areas of this copper pipe.  The bare copper areas show primarily the room's reflected temperatures in the infrared image.

Fused Disconnect

Visually there is no indication of any problems here.  Visual hot spots usually only show when the results are severe, where arcing is visible, or where insulation has burnt off the copper wire.

Infrared Image #4

This infrared image of the inside of the fused disconnect shows that line 1 is much warmer than lines 2 and 3.  This would warrant further investigation, such as current measurements and checking for secure connections.

Dimmer Switch

This infrared image, in black/grey/white, shows a typical wall in a house with a dimmer switch.  The circuitry in the dimmer switch shows higher heat, as is normal.  However, the wall temperatures show another issue.  The colder area on the drywall indicates an area where the insulation is missing.  The insulation might have been pushed aside when the switch was installed, or it might indicate the work of a rodent.

Dimmer Switch Details

This is the same dimmer switch, but with much more information.  This is the version of an image which would be included in a professional Thermographic Image Report.  Again, with the need for different information inputs, we are reminded that infrared thermography is definitely not "point-and-shoot".

Ceiling Light Infrared Image

This image was recorded on the ceiling of a household kitchen.  The homeowner had been complaining of colder room temperatures and possible heat loss.  In this instance there were a number of spots where heat loss could occur.  This example shows the ceiling light, and what appears to be a complete removal of a section, or "batt" of insulation.

Heat loss investigation is a popular use for infrared inspections.

Guess What?

Quite often infrared thermographers ask people (and other thermographers) to guess what the infrared image is a recording of.  This example isn't particularly difficult, but if you really want to is a black bear in a landfill drop-off facility, in cottage country.  Most of the colourful ground cover is simply household garbage.