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Thermal Camera for Leak Detection

How can a thermal camera be used for Leak Detection?

To explain how a thermal camera can be used for leak detection, we must firstly understand what is thermal imaging and how it works. Thermal Imaging is the process to create an image using Infrared Radiation. Most things emit some form of Infrared Radiation, including humans and animals. Infrared Radiation is directly affected by temperature, e.g. the higher the temperature the more Infrared Radiation is emitted, and the inverse is also true. Using a Microbolometer, a thermal camera  captures the different level of energy and converts it in to a two dimension picture and by adding colour and a temperature bar, which can be easily interpreted.

Now to apply this to the application of leak detection which most plumbers have the role of trying to identify a leak and resolve the issue. If a pipe bursts, it will emit cold or hot water and this would have a different thermal profile to a pipe which is not leaking. A leak on the hot heating pipes can be easily identified on the screen on a thermal camera as often the pipe and surrounding materials will have a standard heat signature while the water would be a different pattern.

Thermal Camera Leak Detection: Examples

Pipe Layout - thermal camera leak detection

The above images is an example of how thermal cameras can easily identify the pipe layout under floors without the need to excavate the floor. This can be particularly useful for plumbers who are not familiar with the building pipework layout and structure.

Sink blockage - thermal camera leak detection survey

The above image is shows there is blockage of a sink pipework. This could build up over time and cause odours and flooding if the sink is blocked.

shower leak - thermal camera leak detection survey

The above shows a shower leak which is not always visible as it was a small leak but by applying hot water to the internal area near the leak site it is noticeable when the water escapes and runs along the skirting board and floor tiles

damaged heating pipe-thermal camera leak detection survey

The above image is from a thermal camera leak detection survey.  The thermal camera has identidied that the heating pipe is damaged due to a nail from the carpet gripper rod.  The image shows that  several area have been damaged and are in need of emergency repair and replacement. 

Recommended thermal camera for leak detection

The D160 Pro is the recommended thermal camera for leak detection for plumbers as it fit easily into a plumbers toolbox and is very affordable. It is ideal for application mentioned previously that is benefical for plumbers work in leak detection. It has a 160x120 IR detector which meet the demands of a plumbers thermal imaging needs. It is quick and easy to use with it's one handed operation and easy to use interface. It has a long battery life of up to 8 hours which will last a full day of thermal imaging surveying, if carrying out leak detection on multiple houses or buildings in one day.  It has fixed focus which means the camera is already setup for a plumber without needing any prior knowledge of thermal imaging or thermography. To learn more, visit the D160 Pro Product page


SATIR building thermal imaging cameras

Suitable building thermal imaging cameras

SATIR has a number of building thermal imaging cameras that cover a wide range of budgets, depending on the amount of detail needed for a building thermal imaging survey. Building thermal imaging cameras are becoming increasingly popular among those who work in the building and construction industry. This is due to a number of reasons such as awareness of the technology and the benefits of using such technology, checking the quality of house construction, checking the windows have been properly installed and windows fit door frames correctly to prevent heat escaping from inside a building. There are a wide range of building thermal imaging cameras available and SATIR is a leading provider of thermal imaging cameras for the past 13 years. They provide an excellent technical support team and offer 2 years product warranty. The best IR resolution of a building thermal imaging camera is 384x288 and currently SATIR have 3 models which feature this resolution. They are the i-384,D300 and the Hotfind-S.

The SATIR i-384 is from SATIR newsest range of industrial cameras, the I-Series. The i-384 has the minimum recommended IR detector of 384x288, making it an ideal building thermal imaging camera. It also comes with an Android App which allows a the surveyor to going into enclosed areas such as a attic while the person on the landing can view on the App what the thermal camera is scanning. To learn more visit the I-Series product page.

The SATIR D300 is part of the D-Series another range of cameras ideal as a building thermal imaging camera. The D300 has a reversible flip screen which is different from the i-384 fixed screen which may suit some end-users better. It has a motorised lens To learn more visit the D300 Product Page .

The SATIR Hotfind-S is SATIR oldest model of building thermal imaging cameras It has been a favour thermal imaging camera from those who work in the building industry to those who work in the energy industry. We have many repeat orders of this camera over the years as it is a much loved thermal imaging camera. To learn more visit the Hotfind-S Product Page .

Benefits of building thermal imaging cameras

Preventative maintenance: Thermal imaging Cameras are ideal for surveying old building that are protected buildings. Often protected buildings will need to be repaired. Thermal imaging cameras are ideal for carrying out preventative maintenance to ensure any issues are detected on a routine basis and therefore keeping costs to a minimum as it ensures any issues are identified before issues become larger and more difficult to maintain.

Non-Destructive: Thermal Imaging cameras are able to see problems not visible to the human eye and using the skill of the thermographe, they are able to locate areas of concern without costly destructive methods

Time Management: Thermal imaging cameras are both ideal for preventive maintenance and non destructive testing which both save the facility and end client time and of course money

What could thermal imaging cameras detect for you ?

Roof Survey using building thermal imaging cameras

Building thermal imaging cameras can be used for roof surveying, particularly for flat roofs which are often warehouses, office and apartment blocks. Water ingress into the roof area can be highlighted due to the specific heat capacity of the water. The correct conditions are required to conduct the survey, but the results are very effective.

Building Dampness detected with building thermal imaging cameras

Detecting damp walls in buildings is another application of building thermal imaging cameras. It is important to detect the cause and the start of any dampness in building walls as this could case other issues such as mould which can have serious health hazards if not detected early. The image above clearly shows the start of a dampness problem and needs to looked at closely to see where and how the dampness is occuring. 

The two listed applications are not the only applications that building thermal imaging cameras are useful, to learn more please fill out our contact form and a member of the team can discuss further applications for building thermal imaging cameras.

Building Thermography with SATIR

What is Building Thermography?

To understand what is building thermography, we must understand what thermography means. Thermography can also be known as infrared thermography which is where an infrared camera or thermal camera can read and convert infrared radiation information from an object or persons into a two dimensional  picture or video. This is a process that is non-invasive and can be carried out quickly. Building thermography is where thermography can be used in the building industry to detect building faults with homes and buildings. Building thermography is becoming more popular as homes and buildings often require a building energy rating (BER) certificate. As building thermography can detect areas where heat could be escaping from a home or it could show up structural issues such as issues with a roof or damp patch in a wall. Building thermography is popular as people become more aware of being energy efficient due to climate change. Building thermography activities are best to be taken on cold days, to check for areas where the cold air might be coming into a building. The reason is the difference in the delta T between the inside of the property and the outside temperature, the greater the difference the easier it is to spot the problem. Building thermography surveys are mostly on older buildings that may have poor insulation. However new buildings such as new homes often need a BER certificate to allow home buyers to avail of green mortgage rates. This is where the building thermography process comes into play, it can also give new home buyer’s the reassurance that their homes are energy efficient as buyers become more aware how important it is to have an energy efficient home.

Thermal camera / Infrared cameras have been around for many years but only recently  the cost has decreased to a level where the general plumber or energy assessors can afford the cameras, they may not use them everyday but when they do use them the information from them help to identify hidden problems which cannot be seen with the human eye. Some people even think them as x-ray cameras but this is defiantly not the case  as it is a completely different technology. 

Examples of Building Thermography 

Building Thermography Survey Ceiling

The image above can clearly detect where there is a ceiling leak. If an issue such as a ceiling leak is not detected quickly it can quickly spread and cause damaging to flooring such as carpets. This could turn into a health and safety issue if not identified in time. 

Building Thermography Survey Door

The above images is from a building thermography survey which has identified that the door is not well insulated or is fitted correctly into the door frame. It clearly shows cold air escaping around the top of the door frame. This could make a home energy inefficient and long-term result in higher energy costs.  

Recommend SATIR products for Building Thermography 

The type of thermal cameras SATR recommends for building thermography should have a certain level of specifications. As we are looking for small areas of concern in many cases, a resolution of at least 160x120 is recommended  greater than  320 x240 is preferred, we would also recommend a camera which has focus adjustment as this will allow the end user to optimise the images for a clear and detailed image. One of the key features with any thermal camera is to have the correct training on how to set up the camera and use the device when on site. Saving images and video are important and also how to interpret the actual image . SATIR are able to assist with this and also send out monthly newsletters with interesting articles for up to date industry information.

SATIR I-Series
The SATIR I-Series is a recent addition to SATIR industrial range of thermography cameras. It is a suitable thermal camera series for building thermography applications. There are two models available: the i-160 (160x120) an entry level model and the i-384 (384x288) a mid level model. It has a fixed screen design which is a new design feature which features a 3.5 inch LCD responsive touchscreen. It has a battery life of 4 hours which would cover a  2-3 house surveys in one day. It has a wide temperature range of  -20°C ~ + 550°C and temperature accuracy of  ±2°C or ± 2% of readings. The key reason why the i-series is best suited to building thermography is that it comes with an Android App, that can be installed on a phone or iPad/tablet. The Android app is useful in situations where the surveyor is in the attic or on a roof or ladder and may not have the focus to properly analyse the survey as they could be working at heights, so a safety aspect is more important. A second person or surveyor could be on the ground and opens the android app on their phone or tablet and properly analyse the survey with more detail and provide voice messages to the surveyor at heights to scan particular sections that may be showing up more of a concern. To learn more about the I-series please visit  or you can request a quote on our form at 




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