Using thermography and air tightness testing to reduce condensation 

How do you solve a problem like condensation?

(Added 4 February 2013)

When I get asked "what does it cost for a thermal imaging survey" I always reply "what do you need the survey to tell you?" A thermal imaging survey can be one single shot from the outside, or a complex internal and external survey followed up by detailed written report for submission to Court.  

From a full understanding of the problem, we can bring in other useful tools from our business (and eliminate unnecessary ones) to help solve the problem. One recent example was an enquiry for a "full site thermography study" which following some basic questioning resulted in limited investigation using thermography, air tightness testing and some basic physics to solve a problem for under a tenth of the £20,000 that the client had been quoted for unnecessary capital expenditure.

The problem was condensation risk to machinery and wiring at a number of different locations around a central Scotland factory. We discussed with the site manager the three main factors which impacted on the creation of condensation; 

(1)    The amount of moisture in the air;
(2)    The surface temperature where the condensation was forming; and
(3)    The level of ventilation (natural or assisted) which affected how quickly moist air is removed.
 
Our approach was to assess each of these factors, calculate the dew point for the affected surfaces based on these, and advise which factor could most cost effectively be tackled to eliminate the existing problem. For example: -
 
(1.1)    We measured the current level of humidity (and whether it was above expected levels), assessed the sources of moisture in to the air (and whether these could be circumvented), and concluded whether these could be reduced at source (ideally) or removed via a dehumidifier.
(2.1)    We measured surface temperatures using thermography and used standard formula to assess the current 'dew point.'
(3.1)    Finally we assessed the currently level of air tightness of the buildings, and to what extent moist air was being removed naturally.
 
The solution was based on the results from testing in these three areas, and in the end was a combination of all three.

If you would like to discuss a building problem, condensation or otherwise please call Tom Barbour on 01357 520557.