Using Advanced Technology to Detect Hard-to-Find Roof Leaks

An example of Structura View's building enclosure consulting technology.
Topics for this article: Case Studies, Education, Leak Detection

Client Challenge

The roofing contractor needed to identify and repair leaks in a roof comprised of a Modified Bitumen membrane over lightweight insulating concrete, layered on a built-up roof with gravel, perlite insulation, and a concrete deck.

The primary goal was to gather essential data and images to enable the contractor to recommend and implement effective repair solutions

Roof Data

Location: Valrico, FL
Roof Area: Estimated 7,541 Square Feet
Roof Sections: 1
Type & Purpose of Survey: Leak Detection Survey
Suspected Moisture Content: Estimated 1,403 Square Feet
Percent of Suspected Moisture Intrusion: Estimated 19%

Assessment & Results

A drone-based visible and thermal scan for leak detection was conducted on a roof section of the roof system located in Valrico, Florida. The surveyed area spans 7,541 square feet and includes a Modified Bitumen roof membrane over lightweight insulating concrete, overlaying a built-up roof with gravel, perlite insulation, and a concrete deck.

Due to the presence of this complex dual roof system, our focus was on detecting water leak entry points in the Modified Bitumen and lightweight insulating concrete portions.

The scan identified and mapped areas of the roof section exhibiting only the highest temperature readings, indicating potential moisture accumulation within the roof system. A total of 5 suspected moisture areas, covering approximately 1,403 square feet, have been identified and highlighted in this report.

Based on the temperature data, additional moisture presence beyond the highlighted areas is likely. Further testing is recommended to confirm the suspected moisture and accurately assess its extent within the roof system.

Thermal Image Selection

We conducted a series of thermal scans after sunset to analyze evolving heat patterns over time, distinguishing between signatures associated with moisture, material differences, exposed built-up membranes, heat reflections, and other factors. The 10 P.M. thermal scan was selected for its optimal visualization of leak detection.

Highlighted Image Sets

Below is an example Image Set showing the highlighted areas with the highest temperature readings, indicating suspected high moisture content for leak detection.

Image Set: 2                                
Subject Priority:  2
Height:  150’ AGL Stitched        
Image Type:  Infrared/Visible
Location: North Portion, Section 1
Equipment: DJI Matrice 30T     
Comments: Highlighted suspected moisture locations are represented on both thermal and visible images below.

Leak Detection on Roof Section 1

Moisture Area Calculations

Below is a list and graphic detailing the suspected moisture areas identified along with the Moisture Area ID and square footage of suspected moisture for each area.

Key Insights and Next Steps

This leak detection survey marks the initial phase of the repair process. The data identifies 5 areas in Roof Section 1 with high temperature readings, indicating potential locations for roof leaks.

Moving forward, the contractor will proceed with core sampling and analysis to guide additional testing and remediation steps.


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