Thermal Imaging for Water Damage


It wasn’t long ago that good thermal imaging cameras cost around $35,000. Only companies doing a lot of water damage restoration work could afford to have one. The price of these units has dropped dramatically, during the past few years. A good one can now be purchased for $1,500 to $2,000.

A Thermal camera does not find moisture; it shows where it “might be”.

In the 1st hours of a flood, water is, usually, cooler than the material it has penetrated.

The wet surface and also the wet interior can be cooler for 2 reasons:

1. The cooler temperature of the moisture from its source

2. Evaporation causing cooling at the evaporating moistures surface


Thermal Imaging cameras use the temperature differential between wet and dry items and show, either light and dark differences, on a black and white screen, or blue and red differences (usually) on a color screen.

We can have temperature differential, from cool air and cool surfaces that have no connection with wetness. To separate the actual wet areas, from areas that were just cooler and “could have been” wet, we verify with a moisture meter. The important thing is to see what's not wet and not waste time running a moisture scanner over the area.


The main functions of a camera can be learned, relatively quickly, but to be expert at using, one of these units, can require several days of education.


For, large, wet structures a camera can be a huge time saver. Since the biggest expense of any service company is labor, these devices can pay for themselves, over time, in the right situations. Also, on smaller floods these devices can find moisture, behind walls and cabinets that meters don’t detect. Yes….you may eventually find it, because logic might tell you the moisture went back there (or not) and after some demolition, you find it.

With heat, it’s possible to dry these areas, detected by thermal imaging, without ever doing demolition.


Speaking of heat…..often, heat dryers will use a soft float, placing the heat unit between the carpet and pad, directing energy (warm air) into wet walls, surrounding the carpet. The camera is used to see the heat coming out along the edges of the containment, which in this case is the carpet. If the heat isn’t coming out evenly, the carpet, or any other material used for containment, is adjusted to direct the hot air where it’s needed.


Photos or videos, from these cameras can be e-mailed to interested parties, such as Insurance Adjusters. Another nice feature, is the picture in a picture that shows the thermal image with the normal view around the outside, making the area easier to identify than thermal images only.


A true professional needs professional tools. True professionals buy the best and most complete set of tools to do the job.

Evaluate your operation. Determine if a camera, for water damage, is a tool you need.


                    MAKE MONEY!


                    Dennis Klager
                    IICRC Instructor



Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager