Thermal Imaging - HVAC Diagnostic Maintenance Beyond the Naked Eye
Thermal Imager applications in the HVAC industry are limitless. Anywhere you need to see through walls, pipes, and electrical and mechanical systems, Infrared Thermography (IRT) can identify thermal patterns of an object's surface to identify leaking pipes, find mold formation, locate mechanical failures, deteriorating electrical components, and inadequate airflow distribution. You can even use a thermal imager to provide energy advice by detecting heating and cooling losses.
Thermal Imagers are gaining in popularity as the technology, portability and compact designs of the devices improve, making them more cost competitive and an ideal choice over traditional single point IRT counterparts. Thermal imaging cameras render infrared radiation, or heat, as visible light to precisely measure the surface temperature of an object. This infrared energy is a light wavelength undetected by the human eye and allows you to see heat patterns emanation from the object in different colors; the higher the temperature, the great the infrared radiation emitted. The slightest temperature sensitivities can signal a fatigued or overheated fan motor, condenser or evaporate coils, control valves, and any other component that might not otherwise be noticed.
HVAC professionals responsible for the installation, performance, and up-keep of both residential and commercial heating and cooling systems can think of the thermal imager as a helping hand, a tool that complements the know-how they already have to not only inspect and troubleshoot issues, but prevent problems before they ever happen.
Detect Water Leaks
An HVAC technician armed with a thermal imager can find water-related problems that a normal inspection might not uncover like improperly insulated ducting that hasn't been correctly sealed, wet from condensation, dripping in attics and crawlspaces. Thermal imagers scan temperature changes to help check for leaking pipes and tubes, aid in locating drainage concerns and concealed drip leaks inside heating and cooling systems.
Locate Mold Formation
A problem that coincides with water leakage is mold. Once condensation occurs, mold forms in these locations where the leakage occurred, causing health concerns for a home or building's occupants. Thermal imagers use the externally determined ambient temperature and humidity as well as the measured surface temperature to calculate the relative surface moisture value for each measuring point. Thermal imagers make it possible for HVAC technicians to pinpoint and prevent mold at an early stage.
Predict Electrical and Mechanical Failures
Thermal imaging technology is particularly valuable in predicting and preventing electrical and mechanical application failures in HVAC systems before they happen. Using the IRT technology, technicians can evaluate the heat status of low, medium and high voltage systems to detect defective components and connections and prevent unexpected outages and reduce risk of costly downtime.
In addition, thermal imagers can prevent system damage by detecting heat emissions from mechanical components which can indicate an elevated stress level on the system caused by friction, faulty alignment, component tolerances, or a lack of lubricant.
HVAC professionals are also finding thermal imagers a useful tool to monitor air circulation and determine air leakage and temperature distribution issues. Thermal imaging provides a broader scan of the system by assessing the heat transfer from the surface temperature and provides invaluable information that the human eye just can't process.
Control Energy Costs
It's estimated that leaky duct work can cause 20 - 40% of heating and cooling energy. Thermal imaging can assist HVAC professionals in quickly and effectively evaluating energy losses in a home or building's heating and cooling systems with its high temperature resolution and detailed images, thermal imagers can scan for air tightness and reveal problems like radiant heating failures, insufficient insulation and thermal bridges, and other energy loss through inefficient HVAC systems.
Today's advanced thermal technology benefits HVAC technicians in an array of practical applications. Thermal imagers like the Testo 882, known for its excellent sensitivity and superior image quality, are easy to handle, ergonomically designed, and offer precise infrared images. The Testo 882 has 76,800 temperature measuring points so it sees every detail on the object you're scanning, and you can detect irregularities and weaknesses from a farther distance. Conditions won't always present themselves to the naked eye, but with thermal imagers you can perform an infrared assessment that will provide accurate, real-time information and prevent costly energy and money losses.
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