What Is an Infrared Roof Scan?

An infrared roof scan (IR scan) can be an integral part of a comprehensive roof audit or seasonal roof inspection. You can think of an IR scan as an x-ray of your roof. In this case, however, we’re looking for compromised roof components rather than broken bones. Using an infrared or thermographic camera, an experienced roofing professional can look for areas of wet insulation on compatible roof systems (more on that in future articles).

How Does It Work?

On a warm sunny day good (dry) insulation does what it’s supposed to do: it insulates. Effective insulation helps maintain the building’s optimal interior climate while shielding it from external temperatures. Wet insulation, on the other hand, readily absorbs the sun’s energy, retaining much higher temperatures for a longer period of time than dry insulation.

 When the surface of the roof cools down at night, areas with functioning, dry insulation cool relatively quickly while sections containing wet insulation stay warm for an extended period of time. The infrared camera easily picks up on these “hot zones.”


An experienced roof consultant can then map them on the roof for the building owner:

  1. Areas of suspected wet insulation are marked on the roof.
  2. Wet sections are verified using a moisture meter or core sample.
  3. Verified areas of wet insulation are plotted on a CAD roof plan.


A professional roof consultant will usually include the IR scan report (where appropriate) in the context of a comprehensive roof audit report. The audit report would also include some options for addressing problem areas in the short and longer term, along with opinions on probable costs.

An IR scan can be a very cost-effective way to look inside your roof systems and identify problems early.

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