Leak Detection With Thermal Imaging

Thermographic Cameras For Leak Detection

What is Thermal Imaging?

Thermal imaging with the use of a thermal imaging camera is sometimes referred to a infrared thermography. The process uses infrared radiation in order to create an image of an object.

The image can then be analyzed as to see temperature differences and identify hot or cold spots.

What is a Thermal imaging Camera?

A Thermal imaging camera is a hand held device which utilizes infrared radiation to see hot and cold, displaying the output on the screen of the handheld device.

How Thermal Imaging Aids The Leak Detection Process?

Because Thermal imaging is a high sensitivity technology it is ideal for Infrared Leak Detection and is used to detect heat and cold spots in an environment. It uses a thermal imaging camera which works by detecting different temperatures. Most floors in a home will tend to remain around room temperature – usually between 18°C and 21°C. 

Hot water pipes, however, will raise the surface temperature by anything between 4°C and 5°C, and this difference can be picked up with the colour contrast on the thermal camera. While the edges of the pipes will appear sharp and distinctive, any potential leak will show up as more of a vague pattern – this is due to the water, running at a warmer temperature, escaping from the leak and running free.

The most common application of thermal imaging and infrared inspection is leak detection because it allows technicians to quickly and easily identify areas where moisture is possibly present without having to physically inspect them.

This makes it ideal for identifying hidden issues like a central heating leak, underground water leak, roof leak, or mold growth inside walls.

Additionally, the thermal image can help pinpoint plumbing or HVAC system issues like blocked lines or faulty components where it’s hard to identify using the human eye alone.

Thermal Imaging Camera

How To Use An Infrared Camera For Water Leak Detection

Thermal imaging, or infrared camera water leak detection, is a non-invasive process used to detect and locate the source of water leaks.

Water causes a change in temperature in the surrounding area. Thermal imaging detects this temperature difference found mostly on the surface of an object such as a wall or ceiling due to a leaking pipe inside. 

The Infrared Camera then displays thermal images that show temperature differences through distinct colors. This infrared technology allows plumbers to quickly identify and repair problems before extensive water damage occurs. 

Here’s a step-by-step process on how you can detect hidden water leaks in your home using an infrared camera:

1)  Turn off all sources of water in the area you want to inspect. This will help ensure that the temperature readings are not affected by running water.

2) Allow time for the area to reach a steady-state temperature. This may take up to an hour, depending on the ambient temperature and the size of the area being inspected. Unless you are looking for a hot water leak, in which case you will need the water pipes to be as hot as possible.

3) Begin scanning the area with the infrared camera. One of the most recent models for thermal imaging cameras that you can use is the Mileseey TR256 Infrared Camera. Look for areas that appear cooler or warmer than the surrounding area using the camera’s visual display, as this may indicate evidence of the presence of a water leak.

4) Pay particular attention to areas around pipes, fittings, and valves, as these are common locations for water leaks.

5) If you find a suspicious area, use a moisture meter or other testing equipment to confirm the presence of water.

6) Once you have identified the location of a leak, take appropriate steps to repair it.

It is important to note that infrared cameras are not foolproof and may not detect all hidden water leaks. Additionally, other factors such as insulation and ventilation may affect temperature readings and lead to false positives. Therefore, it is always recommended to confirm the presence of moisture with other testing equipment before taking action.

Is Thermal Imaging Leak Detection Accurate?

While thermal imaging can be a very useful leak detector, it is not the most accurate weapon in the arsenal. In short, thermal imaging can be great for detecting the general area of a leak – it may be able to show you which pipe is the issue, or the spot to focus on. 

In most cases, however, you will not be able to pinpoint the exact location of a leak from thermal imaging alone. Furthermore, it doesn’t provide any information about what type of material is leaking or how much liquid has been lost. You will need alternative solutions to obtain a true confirmation of the exact spot of the leak.

It is important to note that thermal imaging can be used to ascertain the location of a change in temperature, which is highly suggestive of a leak. It cannot, however, be used to actually detect moisture, and this can make it very difficult if the leak is slight or totally invisible. For greater accuracy, alternative options are required. The use of several Leak Detection technologies will boost the efficiency of the readings. 

Thermal Imaging Leak Detection FAQs

Thermal imaging can be used to find leaks under a variety of materials, including plasterboard, wooden flooring, plastics, metals, rubber, glass and many more.

The cost of thermal imaging leak detection varies depending on the size, type and complexity of the job. Our Leak detection prices start from £495 + Vat for a standard 3-bed home. It is important to note that this cost does not include any necessary repairs or replacements. 

When considering thermal imaging as an option for detecting leaks, it’s also important to remember that there are other factors that could influence the total cost. These may include travel costs if a contractor needs to visit a site; the additional time needed if multiple areas need investigation; extra personnel required if a large area needs scanning; and equipment rental fees if specialist cameras are used.

Thermal imaging is an effective tool for detecting leaks, but it has both advantages and disadvantages that should be taken into account.  

One advantage of thermal imaging is its speed; with this method, technicians often find the source of a leak quickly before confirming the leak location with as many leak detection methods as possible. Thermal imaging also allows professionals to survey large areas efficiently by allowing them to rapidly scan from one end of a room to another. This makes it a great tool to use for scanning large industrial buildings quickly. 

On the downside, thermal imaging isn’t always accurate as some materials may not provide enough contrast between hot and cold temperatures for reliable results—particularly those with high R-values such as insulated concrete form (ICF) construction methods.

For these reasons, thermal imaging alone isn’t always sufficient for finding all types of hidden water leaks and should be used in conjunction with other techniques such as acoustic listening devices and tracer gas leak testing.

This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many variables in every property. The overall process is relatively quick, usually taking around an hour.

Some variables that can affect the length of time it takes include the location of your property and how many bathroom & plumbing systems are contained within your home or building. 

Our leak detection engineers are priced out for the full day, complete with multiple forms of leak detection equipment including thermal imaging.

Leaks within a property are not always obvious, and sometimes, the persistent small leaks can cause the most significant damage when going undetected for an extended period. Thermal imaging leak detection is a quick, easy and non-invasive way to confirm the source of any leak, enabling repairs to be done quickly and the amount of damage minimised. also allwing us to see if the water is getting close to electrical outlets. 

Thermal imaging leak detection is one of the most accurate ways of identifying hidden water leaks in a property. With technological advances over the last few years, the accuracy of this method for finding water leaks is somewhere in the region of 90%. 

One of the key benefits of this leak detection method is that there is minimal if any, damage inflicted upon your property, with the added benefit of locating the leak quickly. The quicker a leak is detected, the quicker it can be repaired.

Once the source of the leak has been identified using thermal imaging, the next stage is to confirm the suspected source of the leak using other forms of leak detection technology such as acoustic ground microphones, moisture meters and tracer-gas leak detection. 

The quicker the leak is detected, the quicker it can be fixed; generally speaking, the less water damage will occur.

Yes, thermal imaging leak detection is completely non-destructive, which is why it is an increasingly popular choice within the specialist leak detection industry.

Thermography is an excellent option for leak detection, but there are certain types of leaks where it really excels. These include:

  • Boiler Pressure Dropping (central heating leak)
  • Leak in Concrete Floor
  • Bathroom Leaks
  • Ceiling Leaks
  • Plumbing Leaks
  • Leak Under House

A Thermographic camera is able to detect the temperature by identifying and then capturing different levels of infrared light.

One key aspect and a reason why a thermographic camera is such a vital resource is that the light a thermographic camera can identify is invisible to the human eye.

A thermal camera can detect heat through a solid floor, although the depth at which this will work well will deteriorate relatively quickly the deeper you go. 

But in most cases, central heating pipework is not buried especially deeply, meaning that thermographic cameras are still an excellent option for leak detection in a solid floor.

The electromagnetic spectrum is made up of two parts: heat, which is essentially infrared or thermal energy, and light. A thermal imaging camera cannot detect visible light but can see thermal energy. In contrast, an infrared camera cannot see thermal energy but can detect visible light. The thermal cameras that ADI use have the capacity to capture infrared energy and then use that captured data to create images via either digital or analogue video inputs.

A thermographic survey of a flat roof is an extremely effective method of finding roof leaks.

In fact, due to the sheer volume of thermographic imaging roof surveys we undertake, we have taken things to the next level and invested in the latest commercial drones on the marketplace to work in conjunction with our thermal imaging cameras to pinpoint roof leaks however complex access to a roof is.

ADI Leak Detection is the original specialist leak detection company in the UK.

We are almost obsessive in our determination to stay at the front of the industry; we even develop exclusive tools to deliver the best results for our clients. If you want to find out more about the range of specialist leak detection and survey services that we offer call us today on 0800 731 3843.

Adrian Morgan

Adrain Morgan CIPHE RP RHP is the founder & Managing Director of ADI Pro Leak Ltd. Adrian is also the Head Plumbing, Heating & Leak Detection engineer at ADI Leak Detection.

Adrian CIPHE RP RHP is proud to be registered with the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering, a Registered Plumber and a Registered Heating Professional.