Thermographic Survey or thermal imaging is another inspection and detection technique for finding termites and other insects, including Fire Ants. The technology is extremely effective for inspecting large areas. We have thermographically surveyed a number of historical Brisbane CBD buildings, and also discovered a termite nest on the top floor of another historical CBD building. As you will see from the photos on this page, there are occasions where termites are not outwardly visible, but become visible through the use of a thermographic camera.
Like most things, there are thermal cameras, and there are thermal cameras. There are also thermographers and thermographers. Accuracy and resolution are the key issues in thermal imaging, and the cheaper cameras with limited resolution don’t have the resolution to establish the temperature difference in walls until such time as termite are doing substantial damage.
Thermal imaging has a place, but the technology has grown within in our industry with little regulation, and more work needs to be done on developing a practical reporting system for thermographers in termite detection.
Because of the cost of thermal imaging properly with the better cameras, thermal imaging isn’t a technique we’d consider appropriate in every inspection. Most termite infestations in normal homes can be detected quite effectively by competent inspection without a thermal camera in accordance with Australian Standard 4349.3-2010. Where we can reach a conclusion that thermal imaging is appropriate, we can refer you to competent thermographers who can reliably produce results.
We prefer David Rice at Termicam in Melbourne. David has a wealth of experience with thermal imaging and termites, and we first worked with David in 1999. Termicam are based in Melbourne, so the cost of bringing David and his camera to normal timber pest inspections (including pre-purchase inspections) in South East Queensland can’t be justified. In dispute matters, or in large commercial situations, David’s expertise can really be useful in assessing the timber pest status of a property.
This is a gum tree with active subterranean termites, and no external visible sign of termite attack. The vision is spectacular, and allows us to find termite nests effectively. This shot could also have been taken quite some distance from the tree, and still produced this vision.
Following is an example of what can be found with proper thermal imaging. In the head of a doorway in an historical Brisbane building, we found a heat pattern that was suspicious to us.
From there we investigated a bit further, and found termites attacking the head of the doorway.
The head was removed, and the termites treated.
Thermographic survey is an excellent inspection tool to use in large scale subdivisions, large buildings, or in homes where termite infestations have repeatedly occurred. The ability to accurately track a termite entry point, particularly in dispute resolution is incredible! We would consider thermographic survey essential in Central Business District buildings, particularly from a pre-purchase perspective. Thermographic survey also provides other benefits. There have been instances where overheating switchboards have been found.
In the Fire Ant issue, we have found that the Fire Ants have a heat profile, that may well allow us to find their nests from the air. Helicopter surveys can scan large areas quickly.
In short, it is a non-destructive inspection technique that if used appropriately, provides valuable assessment of areas where we cannot perform an invasive inspection.
As an aside, our son Joel at 13 twisted his knee pulling a stunt on his push bike. An arthroscopy was required, and he was fortunate not to require a knee reconstruction. A thermographic shows the damage to his knee, and was useful to the specialist prior to the operation!
At the same time, we decided to put the thermal camera on our poor mistreated blue/red cattle dog cross. You may be able to tell from the width of the photo that we were joking about the poor mistreated part, but the image is again spectacular!
Here is a moving thermal image of a queen termite.
Jokes aside, thermal imaging performed properly with the right equipment and training can be an extremely effective way of detecting termites and other pests from a distance that cannot always be detected by conventional inspection techniques. We’re not afraid to try something different if it will produce a result for our clients!
In summary, thermal imaging is a very good termite detection technology, but there is no single infallible termite detection technology. Where appropriate, thermal imaging forms part of the Environpest termite detection tool kit, and we have produced some pretty incredible results for our clients with it.
Environpest are not the cheapest timber pest inspection company you’ll find, (and we’re not the most expensive) but as you might have gathered browsing our web site, given what we provide in our inspections and advice, you’ll find we’re incredibly good value. The value of the honest advice you get here will be remembered long after you’ve forgotten the price!