Case Study: Aerial Infrared Survey on Commercial Roof in Miami, FL

The metropolitan Condominiums in south Miami is one of many buildings in Florida that experienced extensive water damage caused by the hurricanes from the last 2 years. This sky rise is located just south of downtown Miami right off the water. We were brought in by the estimating company tasked with putting together the cost to properly repair the property from the water intrusion. Our roll specifically was to provide a roof condition assessment to identify where moisture is present within the roof system. We are often asked to operate in various capacities for roof assessments. Most of the time, we only provide a thermal roof scan and report on where we suspect moisture to be present in the roof. For this job, we were asked to perform additional testing to confirm the presence of suspected moisture within the roof system using moisture meters.

The Elements

Working with high rise buildings off the coast in Florida where daily temperatures do not vary much creates a very challenging work environment to perform an effective thermal roof scan. In an ideal world, to achieve the desired results from a thermal scan, we would like to see a 15 degree temperature change from the day highs to night lows, little to no cloud cover, and low winds. The day we performed this scan gave us less than 10mph winds, a 10 degree temperature change and a completely clear skies, giving us sufficient solar loading to help us see where the moisture was in the roof. We actually had to perform 2 separate roof scans to get the desired results from our survey. The first attempt ended up having to much cloud cover to get us enough solar loading to see the moisture temperature variances.

The Process

Our first step was to capture visible images of the exterior condition of the roof. This helps us get a good visual comparison of where drains are, where aggregate has piled up thicker on the roof (which would create a temperature difference), where repairs have been made, etc. We then walk the roof observing the surface looking for signs of moisture and penetrations. We were able to identify multiple areas with damage drain flashings, openings, and areas of the roof that were blistered and bubbled up because of trapped moisture in the roof. After enjoying a beautiful winter sunset off the coast of Florida, we get to work flying the drone again to capture the roofs temperature changes. We capture aerial thermal images from different elevations and angles at different times throughout the evening just after sunset. Once we have a good visual representation of where we suspect moisture to be present, we then perform a series of additional tests to confirm that what we are seeing is moisture without performing destructive testing. Using Tramex and Flir moisture meters, we were able to confirm the presence of moisture throughout most of the roof where we suspected it. Once we have gathered all of our field data and imaging, we hit the office to review and process a detailed report according to our findings.

The Results

Once our processing and reporting was complete, we delivered our detailed analysis to help with estimating for performing property repairs. We identified that roughy 8,000 sq’ of the total 11,865 sq’ of the roof contained moisture calculating out to be roughly 68%. The estimate company was able to take our report to process an appropriate estimate for roof repair vs. replacement for insurance purposes.

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