Canadian Consulting Engineer

Feature

Using infrared to assess damage to buildings

Thermal imaging cameras display the infrared spectrum as an image, with colours representing different temperatures, and they’re effective in showing everything from the heat of a failing electrical fuse to the cold of a hidden water leak.


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The FLIR One Pro is used by building experts to find invisible problems.

Building insurance can cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding a property, its fixtures, and its fittings. When a building is hit by a natural disaster such as a storm, fire, or flood, or is damaged by water infiltration, it is important for insurance companies to know the exact extent of the damage.

When you have damage like this to your building, your insurance policy might require an inspection prior to issuing any compensation. Many insurance companies outsource building inspections to companies who are better equipped to make substantiated claims about the damage. Saretec France specializes in damage claim inspection services, supporting insurers, companies, brokers, local authorities, and individuals in the complete management of risks, and more specifically, in technical building inspections.

Saratec France sends out a team of experts to diagnose building damage and determine compensation. In order to provide a more advanced technical service to its clients, the company recently equipped its international team of building experts with advanced thermal imaging camera technologies.

Thermal Imaging Diagnostics

The company has invested in over 700 thermal cameras for smartphones, manufactured by FLIR. This allowed Saretec to equip its entire team of technical experts with thermal imagers.

“Our job as an inspection company is to determine the origin of the damage, assign responsibilities and assess the amount of damage that needs to be compensated to the insured customer,” said Sebastien Laumond, communication manager at Saretec France. “With our investment in the FLIR ONE smartphone-attachment thermal cameras, our experts can do this job faster and they can diagnose hidden issues more reliably.”

Thermal imaging cameras display the infrared spectrum as an image, with colours representing different temperatures. For this reason, they’re effective in showing everything from the heat of a failing electrical fuse to the cold of a hidden water leak.

Inspectors can use these cameras for a wide range of applications, including missing insulation, leaks in fittings, and even bad bathtub seals. For defects in floor heating, for example, the thermal camera allows inspectors to immediately see the underground configuration of a floor heating installation.

Building Inspections

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Professionals at Saretec France use thermal cameras to scan buildings for missing insulation, to see leaks in fittings or floor heating.

When more detailed thermal inspections are needed, Saretec uses the FLIR E95, which is a higher-resolution handheld thermal camera. But most building issues can be determined with Saretec’s simpler cameras attached to Android smartphones.

“These personal imagers significantly simplify the diagnostics in various applications,” said Laumond. “They allow us to detect damage and immediately assess the extent of it. In cases where the technical defects are a bit more complex, we might need to call in more specialized help, but about 80% of our thermal detection needs are already covered by the personal thermal imaging cameras. This is especially important, because the cameras are compact and easy to use, so our inspectors can remain efficient.”

Better Reports, Better Client Experience

Saretec’s inspection teams use thermal images extensively in diagnostics reports, giving both the insurance company and the end client better insight into the source and extent of damage.

“In the past, the end client had to simply trust the technical expertise of our team, without completely getting the big picture. But now with the thermal images, hidden building issues are clearly presented to them. For us, it’s also a matter of providing a better customer experience,” said Laumond.