HVAC

May 07, 2019

HVAC with thermal imaging

 

Thermal Imaging - Giving Your HVAC Business the Edge!

 

Come to think of it, thermal imaging and HVAC are one side of the same coin. Technically, intertwined. If you haven’t incorporated the right thermal imager to your HVAC business, you could be putting yourself at a serious disadvantage. Needlessly. Just think about it. Your business is only as relevant as the service you give your clientèle. However, above and beyond all that comforts, your client’s safety comes first. By now, you should know that even the most foolproof of HVAC systems can develop holes over time. A quick look at history attests to this.

 

Fortunately, this is where thermal imagers can give you a break. And a timely one at that. More often than not, when customers give you a distress call, it’s a ticking time bomb about to explode in your face. The longer it takes for you to solve the problem, the lesser chances you have of winning them over. There’s just no other way to it. They want solutions - and fast. You may not be Superman armed with a cape and super vision, but you do need heat vision or you could be out of business faster than you can spell your name backward.

 

The good news is you can turn the situation around. Instead of looking at it on the negative side, why not view distress calls as golden opportunities? Exactly where today’s thermal imaging technology can be a lifesaver. Giving your client peace of mind. And you, the ability to root out a problem.  To put your business forward.  

 

Forewarned is Forearmed

 

Right off the bat, HVAC spells comfort. As heating and cooling professionals, you know this like the palm of your hand. But, make no mistake about it, these comfort-machines can be a cause of pain - and in some instances even death.

 

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) details that for every  24 seconds that passes, one fire department in America has to respond to a fire alarm somewhere in the country.  Though fire deaths are steadily at a decline since the 1970s, stats paint a grim picture. The government watchdog details:

 

  • Over 3,400 civilians fire deaths were reported in 2017 in the U.S.
  • 77 percent of these deaths happen at home.

 

HVAC issues did not cause all of these fires. Still, you can’t deny, some are HVAC-related. Exhibit A: The 2017 Breakwater Apartments fire in New Albany.

 

HVAC Hands in Hot Waters

 

It was not too long ago that an apartment fire shook the central district of New Albany.

 

Then, over 90 firemen responded to the fire at the Breakwater Apartments. The culprit? An HVAC installer who reportedly ignited a fire when soldering a pipe made of copper. The professional says he did his part putting out the fire - utilizing a couple of fire extinguishers for about 45 minutes. The problem was he left, thinking he had everything under control.

 

To everyone’s nightmare. Experts on site determined it took 15 hours before the fire was reported to the authorities.

 

All except 39 units of the $26.5-million 206,000 square-foot apartment were consumed by the fire. Good thing no lives were lost. Just two firefighters falling through the third floor. Along with a whopping $12 million in total damages.

 

Worse, the fire stunted a business hub projected to bring about over $30 million in terms of economic impact in the next 5 years.

 

Had that installer utilized a thermal imager before leaving, the fire would most likely be prevented. And he would have kept his job. His company freed from legal woes.

 

In a highly-charged environment, things could get ugly pretty fast. All you have to do is look back at past HVAC issues you’ve encountered. Was it electrical? Over time, those aging wires can be easy prey to fire -  especially when close to the hot elements of the furnace?

 

How about gas leaks? You know very well how dangerous these are.  Not only can people get choked by poisonous gas (e.g., carbon monoxide), you could have a full blown fire in no time. A fuel line is loaded with highly-flammable fuel. When it comes in direct contact with the heated elements of the HVAC, all hell could break loose. It’s a no-brainer.

 

Then there is also the documented case of an HVAC installer who made a seemingly harmless wiring mistake. For some time, facility managers were at a loss why their monthly power bills tripled to $900 - from a minimum of $300. Good thing the experts who were called upon to check brought a thermal imaging system. Pointing the camera at the ceiling, they found out that the furnace was running since Day 1 - alongside the AC. Together through all these times. Through winter and through summer.

 

The amazing thing is it took the team as little as 5 minutes to get to the problem.

 

Thermal Imaging: Your HVAC Eyes in the Dark

 

When you are called to a site, you are virtually blind. Blind, in the sense that you don’t really know what ails the HVAC system you’re facing. As trusting as they may be, owners will just give you a general complaint of the system failure - devoid of an idea what’s really going on. With a thermal imager at your beck and call, however, the picture changes drastically.

 

Thanks to advance IR imaging technology, the thermal device will show you a heat footprint of everything inside the abode. So long as you can point it in the right direction. Thermal imaging cameras translate infrared radiation into visible light. This allows you to measure an object’s surface temperature. And as heat permeates through walls, ceilings, and pipes, it won’t even matter if a troubled spot is invisible to the naked eye. You will be able to pinpoint the hot spots and cold spots - with relative ease. To fix the problem in no time. Here are ways how:

 

  1. Identify electrical faults.

 

Put in mind that HVAC systems are energy powerhouses. While an AC helps achieve an ideal environment for an abode by providing cooler temperatures, it devours energy by the truckloads. In the process, it produces extreme heat, which over time could test the physical limits of wires and components inside it.

 

With IR technology at your side, however, you can easily determine changes in the heat status of your HVACs. This allows you to detect faulty connections and components before the problem become serious and permanently damaging. By carefully evaluating the heat status of these electrical systems, you prevent unnecessary power outages - not to mention pesky downtime.

 

With periodic inspection, you can diagnose an electrical fault before it becomes a major problem. As HVAC is linked to an establishment’s electrical system, checking the whole setup is wise. Some key points to look out for include:

  • Damaged fuses
  • Worn contacts
  • Damaged circuit breaker
  • Overloading current
  • Loose connections
  • Electrical component degradation
  • Poor electrical contacts

 

 

 

  1. Identify mechanical faults.

 

Moreover,  heat emissions are produced when mechanical systems go berserk. This could be caused by compounded stress over time attributed to friction or component break down. By probing such heat changes in the system, you can address the root of the problem preventing massive system failure in the process. This is extremely useful in doing preventive maintenance for an establishment or a home.

 

By doing periodical inspections using infrared technology, you can detect mechanical issues growing in your HVAC system. You can corroborate data with oil analysis and/or vibration analysis. Also, you can do a general inspection of the abode to check if there are any hidden faults inside the walls or up the ceiling.

 

  1.  Identify water leaks.

 

Water leaks are a bit tricky as pipes are usually out of sight - in walls or under the floor. While hidden pipes render a structure more aesthetically pleasing and more practical to use, it is a maintenance problem, to say the least. In all honesty, it would be close to impossible to check improperly-insulated ductwork hidden under the woodworks. Unchecked, this could bring about unnecessary dripping - bloating your monthly bill in the process. Not if a thermal imaging unit can help it.

 

With their ability to detect temperature changes, thermal cameras can easily locate leaks in pipes and tubes because the leaked water will cause a temperature disturbance in the area of contact thus showing up on a thermal camera where the hear should be uniform. And even with its intricate circuitry, the same holds true when your AC develop drip leaks inside.

 

  1. Manage airflow.

 

Thermometers may measure the temperature inside the room. Though it’s a useful tool, it’s largely limited. Knowing possible air leakage in a closed room is beyond its scope. That job falls to thermal imagers.

 

Further, thermal imaging systems can help determine the temperature distribution in key areas of the house. By assessing the variation of heat energy inside the room in relation to the surface temperature, precious data can be obtained - and duly processed. Even when all these escape your eyes.

 

In a hospital setting where you need to keep the disease at bay, it’s a must. For one, you need ample control of the air circulation in a room to prevent the transfer of disease via airborne pathogens. That’s where thermal imaging units come in handy. You can closely monitor HVAC systems to put everything in order.

 

  1. Reduce costs.

 

When HVAC malfunction, your costs could balloon in no time. Leaky ductwork unchecked can add as much as 20 to 40 percent energy usage to your bill. By detecting potential hot spots, the best thermal imaging systems prevent huge energy losses to happen. Caught in detail, drops in a home’s heating/cooling system can be addressed. By doing so, an HVAC professionals job gets a lot easier. He can identify faults in HVAC systems before it becomes a disaster. You won’t be able to see poorly done insulation or for that matter radiant heating failures. By using thermal imaging, however, you can detect air tightness - locating the root of the problem in the process.

 

For the homeowner, all this translates to minimized costs. Exactly the reason why getting regular maintenance is recommended.

 

The Best HVAC Thermal Imager: Scaling Your Business

 

All this tells you thermal imaging complements your HVAC business like no other. Imagine how many more clients you can cater to, with your downtime greatly reduced. And that’s just for starters.