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Building envelope

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Thanks to thermography, there is no longer any need to make openings and dig into the depths of a house to locate and identify the source of certain problems. Infrared cameras make it possible to detect disorders hidden by the coverings, without breaking anything!

These very special cameras can detect:

  • deficiencies in the waterproofing or thermal insulation of a building envelope

  • water infiltration into a foundation or roof

  • condensation in a wall

  • a leak in some heating systems

  • etc.


What is thermography?
Thermography is a technique for recording the temperature of objects and materials using infrared rays. Infrared cameras record the temperature of the surfaces examined at different points.

They reproduce these measurements in a color image called a thermogram.


This image shows the temperatures recorded according to a color code. Cold spots are represented by a gradation of cool colors: green, blue, purple, up to black, which represents the coldest temperature. On the other hand, the higher the surface temperature of an element, the warmer its representation will be, going from yellow to orange, red then white.

Observing hotter or colder surface spots may indicate an anomaly. For example, a blue portion of a wall on a thermogram captured from the inside, in winter, could indicate an absence of thermal insulation. In such an event, the same section of wall subjected to the infrared camera from the outside would then appear in warm colors due to heat loss.

How is the data interpreted?
Analyzing a thermogram is complex. The interpretation of the data requires taking into account several factors. To fully understand what colors have to say, we must, among other things, take into account the radiation characteristics of the materials. For example, aluminum and brick do not capture and radiate heat in the same way.

In addition, when the technician does not use an infiltrometer to monitor the air pressure inside the building, the value of the information collected is largely influenced by the atmospheric conditions prevailing at the time of the inspection. In such a case:

  • A temperature difference of 10°C or more between the interior and exterior must be respected to evaluate the building envelope. The winter period is therefore ideal. Please note, cameras that are several years old require a higher gap due to their less advanced technical characteristics.

  • For outdoors, the exercise must take place in good weather, very early in the morning or a few hours after sunset, because rain and sun alter the temperature of the surfaces.


Who can do this kind of analysis?

You cannot improvise as a thermography inspector. Rigor and competence must be combined to hope to obtain convincing results. Images must be obtained and interpreted by certified experts

Level 1 certification is required for use of the camera

and level 2 for writing the report.

And after the inspection? The report

Once the camera scanning and data analysis is complete, the inspector must provide a detailed report that contains:

  • infrared and digital photos locating the problems identified

  • an explanation of the phenomena or construction details observed

  • diagrams illustrating the problem and the corrections to be made

  • an explanation of the proposed correction methods and what they involve

You must also find a description of the ambient conditions during the inspection and the image capture parameters: temperature calibration, distance of the device from the surfaces observed, emissivity of the latter, etc.

The identity and qualifications of the people responsible for operating the camera, interpreting the data and producing the conclusions of the analysis must be specified in the report.

How much does it cost?
The cost of a thermographic analysis is directly linked to the scope of the mandate and the extent of the surfaces analyzed. Inspecting an entire house or just one wall is not the same price!

Examining the energy efficiency of an average single-family home can cost around $525. It makes it possible to assess the inadequacies of the building envelope: lack of insulation, displaced insulation, thermal bridges, air leaks, etc. 

For a more precise application, such as locating water infiltration through the roof or in a wall, the cost must be the subject of a specific estimate.

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