The best way to evaluate a commercial roof until recently was to physically climb on top of it and look around. While gaining a close-up view of the rooftop is the most effective approach to look for flaws, it’s also the most dangerous, as there’s a higher risk of slipping and falling. Furthermore, by smashing roof panels and breaching the roof membrane, an untrained inspector can create inadvertent harm.
Drones and thermal imaging cameras may hold the key to finding a solution. Drones can help you enhance your roof care strategy by providing a more accurate view of your roof’s condition. Commercial building managers may conduct safer inspections as part of a comprehensive roof maintenance plan by combining this technology with rooftop access and support systems.
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As is customary, begin with documentation.
The arrival of fascinating new technology does not imply that you should abandon what previously worked successfully. Start with the essentials if you want to update your roof maintenance strategy. Keep track of the roof’s history, including the original products used and the dates of installation and repairs. This is the ideal place to start when putting together a strategy. Furthermore, this documentation will boost the efficacy of the technological enhancements you’ll try out later.
New roof inspection technologies have the genuine benefit of allowing you to safely evaluate all regions of your roof. Even if you deploy access platforms, some regions will remain hidden from workers. These challenging or risky locations can be captured by a drone. Thermal cameras, on the other hand, can scan areas at a wavelength that humans cannot see. You will be able to contextualize the outcomes of these inspections if you have documentation.
Roof Inspections Assisted by Drones
Drones have various advantages when it comes to roof inspections.
The first benefit is security. A flying drone has no chance of tumbling over the roof. A drone never gets fatigued, and its focus never wanders. Many commercial drones have autonomous collision-avoidance systems that can keep them from colliding with structures if the operator’s attention is diverted. An accident involving a drone monitoring a rooftop poses extremely little risk to human safety, even in the worst-case scenario.
Second, drones are capable of capturing subtleties that humans are unable to. A drone, for example, can hover dozens or hundreds of feet above your roof, capturing wear and tear patterns that a human wouldn’t be able to see at eye level. It can also get into places that a human wouldn’t be able to get into, such as behind or underneath large equipment. Drones can record more detailed, high-quality photographs by using equipment supports and platforms.
Finally, drones take videos. This means a professional may quickly go back and highlight trouble areas for later assessment.
Drones aren’t toys, so keep that in mind. Commercial drone operators are subject to FAA regulations; therefore it’s preferable to engage a professional for this type of work.
Detecting Hidden Leaks with Thermal Cameras
Drones can go where humans can’t—but what about viewing things that aren’t visible to the naked eye?
Another approach to discovering trouble spots on your roof is via thermal imaging, which may be quite useful if you’re trying to save money on your energy costs or prevent moisture damage.
The capacity to see places that are cooler or warmer than others is a major benefit of thermal imaging. On a cold day, if you point a thermal imaging camera towards the roof, you may notice a few places that are warmer (redder) than the rest. These patches could indicate damage to your roof membrane or insulation—in other words, locations where warm air is escaping from your roof.
Furthermore, these surveys might assist you in determining where moisture is penetrating your roof. Large warm or cool patches will appear where there is moist insulation (depending on whether your building is being heated or cooled). This is because damp insulation is ineffective in trapping warm or cold air within a structure.
Fun fact: thermal cameras are installed or available as options on several commercial drone systems, so you can easily combine these two types of inspection for a more effective roof survey.