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Blog #051 – Your THERMOGRAPHY COMFORT LEVEL – Will an Infrared camera locate …..? It depends!

Thermographers are often asked: “Will an Infrared camera see  ….  or locate…?  How about through walls?  Through clothes?  etc?  The answer to those questions is NO.  But some questions cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.  For example, what if someone asked you if your thermal imaging system can see the location of a hot water pipe located in a wall cavity?  Well, the IR camera cannot see through the wall, as we all know.  But the correct answer to this question is:  “It depends.”  It depends on whether the heat from the hot water pipe reaches the surface that you are directly looking at.  Heat travels any of three ways: conduction, convection and radiation.  It’s possible that the hot water pipe is hot enough to transfer its heat to the wall to a degree that it changes the temperature on the last coat of paint that you are looking at.  It also depends on insulation and distance from the wall.  Although the temperature change might be very slight, a sensitive IR camera will pick it up.  Notice the image below.

Location of hot water pipe using Fluke IR Fusion camera.

Location of hot water pipe using Fluke IR Fusion camera.


This is the interior wall in the lobby of a hotel.  The decorative canopy is directly over the lobby bar, which has a hot water feed.  The hot water pipe in the cavity has a continuous flow of hot water.  The temperature difference (∆T) on the surface is around 2 degrees F.  I’m using a 70mK detector in the Fluke IR camera.  So, sometimes you can locate hot water pipes.  IT JUST DEPENDS.

How’s your comfort level in thermography?
(The above comments represent my opinion).

Rod Hoff / Restoration Consultants Inc
Thermography Instructor / IR camera sales
3284 Ramos Circle, Sacramento CA 95827
toll free 888-617-3266 ext 301
fax 916-736-1134

Provider of Fluke TiS, TiR, TiR1, Ti, Ti25, TiR27, Ti27, TiR29, Ti29, TiR32, Ti32, TiR3, and TiR4 infrared cameras.


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About infrarod

Rod Hoff is a Thermographer and instructor with Restoration Consultants, Inc. He teaches a two-day IR class in moisture and building envelope investigations. A graduate from Florida State University, with a degree in education, he received his formal training in Thermography from Snell Infrared and Restoration Consultants, Inc.

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