Frequently Asked Questions







What is an aerial thermal IR roof inspection?

An infrared roof scan is a systematic thermal inspection of a roofing system with the specific intent to locate any thermal anomalies, determine the reasons for the thermal anomalies, and evaluate if they may require further evaluation or remedy.  These thermal anomalies may or may not be moisture related. Any anomalies identified should be confirmed with moisture probe or core sampling.

How does aerial thermography for roof inspection work?

During the day the sun warms the roof's surface. After the sun sets, the roof cools allowing for evaluation of temperature differences. Mirage Aerial Imaging's part 107 certified pilots send the drone on it's first mission to obtain high resolution images of the building's roof before sunset. Then after the sun has set and the roof has cooled, a thermal camera is mounted and the drone is sent on a second mission to collect the thermal scan so those images can be compared, allowing for our certified thermographer to interpret the data.


Why would the roof show different temperatures on a thermal scan?


If water potentially infiltrated a roof's outer membrane, the underlying insulation would be wet. Wet insulation holds heat from the sun longer than dry insulation allowing the thermal camera to "see" a temperature difference. 

What are the benefits of an aerial thermal inspection for a commercial roof?

  1. The entire roof can be seen on one image and compared to a high-resolution photograph (see example below).

  2. There is no need for an inspector to take hours to walk the entire roof.

    • A thermal scan allows for inspection of targeted areas​ on the roof increasing safety.

    • IR thermal scans are done at night or just after sunset, so aerial thermal scans greatly improve safety, since they can be performed by people from the ground.

    • From 2003-2013, OSHA reports 1,200 deaths due to falls in the construction industry.

  3. Early detection of leaks with confirmation by moisture probe or core sampling​.

    • Decreases overall maintenance costs due to leaks left unidentified for long periods of time and long term water damage to the building's interior​.

    • Potentially allows for targeted roof repair rather than replacement.

    • Decreases energy costs. Wet insulation conducts, rather than repels, heat increasing electricity bills, which can be a significant monthly burden on business owners.

What are the limitations of an aerial thermal inspection?

  • Variable weather conditions can negatively affect the accuracy of the scan.

    • Lack of solar load does not allow the building's roof to heat up ​decreasing the ability of the thermal camera to evaluate for a temperature difference. 

    • A cloudy night makes it difficult for the roof to cool adequately decreasing the ability of the thermal camera to evaluate for a temperature difference.

    • Windy conditions cause a couple problems such as difficulties with drone operations and inability for the roof to heat and cool properly for temperature evaluation.

  • Roof types​

    • Heavily ballasted, single ply roofs have complex thermal relationships and are more difficult to scan​

    • Inverted membrane (PMR) roofs are not typically inspected using thermography

When should I have my commercial roof scanned?

An aerial thermal scan can be done at anytime in the life of a building. They are most beneficial for commercial low slope/flat roofs. For warranty and insurance purposes, it is important to conduct an IR scan once a new roof is completed in order to provide a baseline for future scan comparison.  Subsequent scans will assist with determining roof damage due to violent storms, moisture penetration, or warranty covered repairs prior to expiration. 

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