So you’ve scheduled an Infrared Inspection… What should you expect?
I know I always feel better about purchasing a service when I know what to expect, or I’m familiar with the stages of work being performed. This isn’t because I have a distrust of other professionals, and not even because I’ve had inadequate work performed for me in the past. I find that the more I know, and the better informed I am about the process, the more I can learn from professionals about my home, car, plumbing, or anything else being serviced.
The same applies to your building. Now, if you’ve come this far, you know your building needs to “stay healthy.” The infrared inspection is part of the annual electrical system check-up, which we covered in our last article. Committing your time and resources to making sure your system is functioning properly is a strong step forward, and you should be aware of everything you’re getting with this service.
First, all the electrical panels and equipment within your property will be inspected. This seems pretty straight forward, but it is a good idea to double-check and make sure that this is actually happening. You should get a full list of what was inspected, with notes stating if and why something was not inspected. This includes the main switchgear and will continue out to all the panels and equipment that it feeds. I understand some equipment may not be able to run, but it still needs to be listed with the rest of the scanned equipment.
Second, all the panels and equipment covers need to be removed during the inspection, and then reinstalled. Infrared is not X-ray! Infrared Thermography is a science involving the use of electronic optical devices to detect and measure radiation, which is then translated to surface temperature. Radiant energy measurement is valuable because overheating equipment often points to a potential failure. This process is visual, I can’t seem to stress that enough. The covers need to be removed to expose the connections in the panel and equipment. The infrared scan is no good if you’re missing information hidden behind a metal plate. This includes the cover around the breakers, disconnect doors, motor covers, transformer covers, etc… Experienced inspectors will know what covers to remove and how to safely scan your equipment. Always keep in mind, if you can’t see it, neither can the camera.
Third, both a digital and a hard copy of the report should be delivered in a timely fashion. You are paying good money for this, so expect both. The report should include a summary, list of equipment inspected, write-ups of what needs to be addressed. The write-ups will include problems found visually (safety issues, broken equipment, cross threaded connections, loose or burnt connections with no load, etc…), hot spots (connections, breakers, fuses, overloads, etc…), and the due electrical maintenance (ATS servicing, GFI testing, breaker testing, etc…). The report should make sense and direct you on how to repair or remedy any discrepancies. Make sure you ask questions if things are unclear. A good infrared technician will take the time to answer questions about the report and make sure you fully understand what it is you are reading.
Remember, this is your electrical system’s annual check-up. Knowing the status of your system’s health can mean catching small problems before they become costly repairs. Make sure you know what was checked, what needs attention, and what to do next. This will help you determine your course of action and budget for the year to come.