Building Thermography – Thermal Imaging
Building inspection is a fast-growing application of infrared thermography, which can be used to test and solve problems in buildings of any age, size, use or construction type. The key benefits are that it allows non-destructive and non-contact assessment of the structure’s and/or location and size of defects within building structures, components or systems to be carried out. With suitable equipment, large areas of buildings can be scanned and assessed in a relatively short time.
Thermography is still an emerging technology across the construction industry, with growing levels of awareness and an ever-increasing number of applications, but relatively little real understanding of what it can and cannot provide, and how and when to use it effectively. One of the most important factors with thermal imaging of buildings is consideration of weather and environmental conditions, which can in many cases be critical to successful use.
Architects, builders, facility managers, surveyors, loss adjusters and many other building professionals, as well as individual home owners, can benefit from thermal imaging surveys. The key uses are summarised below.
Building fabric heat loss
One of the best known uses for building thermography is to assess thermal insulation (as required by Part L Building Regulations) and other key sources of heat loss such as thermal bridging and excessive air infiltration around the building fabric. It can be very useful to use a ‘blower door’ (used to test the air tightness of buildings) together with thermal imaging to locate the sources of draughts and interstitial air movement. The weather and environmental conditions are critical for heat loss surveys; a cold and dry morning is generally required, prior to sunlight warming the building, so inspection typically can take place between September and May in the UK. Wherever possible, internal scans should be performed to fully understand heat loss and its likely mechanisms. A great deal of caution should be
applied where external-only scans are recommended, since, in many cases, the location of external ‘hot spots’ may not necessarily identify the corresponding internal ‘cold spot’. Surveys incorporating both internal and external thermal imaging are of course more time consuming and complex but, in general, only a basic impression of a building’s thermal performance can be determined from an external survey.
Structural damp and leak tracing
Structural damp and leak tracing is very valuable for building owners, managers and many construction professionals.
Thermal imaging provides non-destructive investigation to locate areas that are damp and often enables the sources of damp to be identified, whether they be in the roof, walls, floors, windows or doors. Additional specialised equipment is often required to assist in this process and verify suspected damp. Depending on the particular situation, the weather conditions may be important and should be considered by the thermographer.
Plumbing, heating and ventilation systems can be tested for performance, location (for example the precise position of under floor heating systems) or leaks. Generally, these surveys are not weather dependent.
Government Regulations Documents – Sound Testing Part E
From the 1st of June 2015 all residential developments must apply acoustic testing sampling in compliance with Technical Guidance Document Part E. Energy Rating Plus provide Independent Acoustic Testing and Reporting in compliance with TGD Part E.
Developments will require the testing of separating walls and floors to achieve compliance with Part E of the building regulations. Sound Insulation Testing checks for both airborne and impact travel through new or existing buildings. This may affect party walls and floors between new and existing buildings, or between spaces within a new development entirely.
Under revised sound regulations which came into force in July 2015, sound testing is now mandatory on attached dwellings.
A large part of our business revolves around helping the construction related services sector and stakeholders with Part E Compliance, this involves sound testing and sound compliance certification
Do you require Sound Insulation Testing?
All new dwellings and extensions to dwellings which adjoin other buildings will require sound insulation tests.
Any construction works, involving a material change of use that result in a building (or part thereof) becoming used as one or more dwellings.
How does Sound Insulation Testing work?
The Sound Insulation tests includes both Airborne and Impact tests. The number of tests required is dependent on the layout of your build and how many separating walls and floors you have.
Testing should take place as early as possible so that any acoustic weaknesses can be identified early in the construction process. Carpets and temporary floor coverings should not be fitted until a pass has been achieved.
How many test do I need?
To comply with the requirements of Technical Guidance Document E (2014) of the Building Regulations, the minimum test programme is a function of the number of residential units to be constructed and variation in the construction types.
A full set of tests for an apartment consists of 2 floor tests(2 x airborne and 2 x impact) and 2 wall tests (airborne).
Impact tests are not carried out on semi-detached properties or terrace arrangements where residential developments are side by side.
The Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government (DECLG) published new Building Regulations pertaining to sound in December 2014. An updated and enhanced Technical Document E Sound followed in January 2015. The key aspects of the new guidance may be summarized as follows:
TGD E places a strong emphasis on the competence of testers, as illustrated by the following extracts:
Competency of Tester
To ensure a proper standard of testing, it is essential that persons are competent in the measurement of sound insulation in buildings to the relevant ISO Standards i.e. ISO 16283 Part 1 and ISO 140 Part 7 series, possess sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work he or she is required to perform having particular regard to the size and complexity of such works.”
Sound insulation tests carried out by a person certified by an independent third party to carry out this work offers a way of ensuring that such certification can be relied upon.