The Pros and Cons of Infrared Roofing Inspections!

3Since the roof is designed to protect everything underneath its covering, being able to withstand heat, cold and other harsh forms of weather is very important. There should always be some type of preventive maintenance plan in place to prolong the service life of this valuable building covering. This can be done through frequent inspections to detect any minor damage needing repair before it becomes a major problem.

Infrared or thermal imaging is growing in popularity as a method for inspecting roofs for potential moisture-related issues, especially on low-slopes. Using this advanced tool, along with standard inspection methods, can help make the evaluation process more quick and efficient. Before making a decision to use this type of inspection method, it could be beneficial to know both the pros and cons of using this tool.

Moisture Damage

Moisture itself will not destroy a roofing system – but it can cause damage. Moisture trapped between the roofing membrane and insulation can rust or rot the decking, compromising the integrity of the entire structure. When moisture is trapped, it dries very slowly, causing the underlying material to deteriorate. If the problem is not detected soon enough, it may require a complete replacement of the roof which can be very expensive.


Thermal imaging is done by using a hand-held camera that works like an x-ray machine, verifying moisture or leaks and allowing a damaged area to be more obvious to human eyes. In addition, many technicians use alternative equipment such as a moisture meter and destructive core samples to support the evidence gathered by the camera images.


In order to effectively use this kind of technology, there are several variables that must be considered.

  • Climate and Weather – Environmental conditions and climate must be right. It is difficult to determine a thermal pattern when it is windy or cloudy – or even at night. If it is windy during the inspection, the surface convective cooling increases, making it hard to detect thermal patterns. On cloudy days or at night, the ability of the surface covering to radiate energy is impeded and a technician will have a more difficult time identifying any thermal differences.
  • Roofing System – Another limitation is the type of roofing system. It is challenging to spot a thermal image when single-ply, heavily-ballasted roofing material is used or on systems with two layers of insulation. Typically, thermography cannot be used on roofs with an inverted membrane. The most deceiving limitation is single-ply membrane as it can reflect infrared radiation which is a long wave. Since most imaging devices detect energy with a long wave, almost the exact same wave length will be soon, making it difficult to tell whether the pattern is coming from the roof or is just a false reflection.

An infrared roofing inspection is quick, accurate and efficient, especially if its limitations are taken into consideration. If still confused, it may be helpful to discuss thermal imaging with a reputable contractor to get some professional advice about the use of this unique inspection tool!

Schulte Roofing Is the Expert Roofer Houston Company to Handle Your Roofing Needs!

Looking for a roofer Houston professional to inspect your roof using infrared technology? The Schulte Roofing experts at 800-367-7663 understand this tool and can help customers in the greater Houston area with this and any other roofing need!