Professional pest inspection company, Termite Solutions is using FLIR thermal imaging cameras for termite inspections of buildings. Specialising in termite inspections and treatments since 1996, the Queensland company started utilising FLIR thermal imaging cameras in 2005.

Termites that attack houses are almost exclusively subterranean species that need to maintain very specific environmental requirements. Termite Solutions proprietor Mal Brewer explains that termites, after entering a dwelling rapidly humidify the galleries they inhabit and actively regulate the temperature. FLIR thermal imaging cameras are used to detect this temperature differential. The FLIR E-Series, for example, has suitable resolution and thermal range to detect even very minor temperature differences.

Depending on atmospheric conditions, termite infestations can appear as hot in winter or cold in summer, spring and autumn. Termites can go undetected on the concealed wall framing for months, causing significant structural damage. Australians spend millions of dollars each year treating termites and repairing the resultant damage. Detecting a termite infestation before serious damage is caused can potentially save homeowners thousands of dollars.

Mal explains that he first heard about the use of thermal imaging technology for termite detection in 2004 from interstate pest inspectors. He bought his first thermal camera in 2005 and was able to quickly establish a marketing advantage with the camera serving as an invaluable detection and diagnostic tool. With the ability to spot termite issues left undetected by other inspectors, he was able to convince clients about the professional quality of his services, quickly recovering the financial outlay for his first FLIR camera. He also found that the use of thermal technology led to greater acceptance of quotes.

According to Mal, they always try to involve their clients at the start of the inspections to show them the visual advantage of using thermal imaging technology. Termite Solutions also uses thermal imaging for condition monitoring by checking current images against those taken on previous inspections.

Mal uses FLIR Professional Reporter and FLIR Tools software on his office computer, FLIR Viewer on his iPad and FLIR Tools on his smartphone. Describing the reporting software as comprehensive, he says that the finished reports look great and images can even be emailed directly to the client using the Apple or Android device from the job site.

The Wi-Fi capabilities of FLIR thermal imaging cameras are also helping Termite Solutions when inspecting investment properties for interstate or overseas clients. Mal comments that the images can be saved onto the camera, uploaded to the Cloud or emailed directly to the client, allowing them to serve clients who may be thousands of kilometres away.

Mal Brewer finds the FLIR thermal cameras very easy to use, with only some basic training required before utilising the camera for the first time. Mal however, advises operators using the camera for commercial purposes to get trained in interpreting and describing the images correctly in reports.

Mal Brewer completed the Level 1 Thermography course at Melbourne University in 2004 followed by the Melbourne FLIR course for Pest Managers a few years later, and also attended a Building Science Thermography course in 2013. All of Termite Solutions’ technicians have attended FLIR courses and are trained in the use of cameras and creating thermal reports.

Pest inspectors at Termite Solutions are equipped with a torch, binoculars, tapping tool and moisture meter. They look for damage with the torch, check the visible timber with the tapping tool for structural integrity or soft spots, and use the thermal imaging camera to detect small temperature differences caused by termites, leaks, moisture issues, rodents or insulation anomalies. Mal states that FLIR thermal imaging cameras can find low levels of termite infestations, often much earlier than their presence can be detected using conventional methods such as tapping tools and moisture meters.

A thermal camera allows inspectors to scan buildings quickly, and areas that are out of reach of the inspector such as high ceilings. Termite Solutions’ inspectors can each inspect as many as five houses a day.

Termite Solutions has purchased four FLIR cameras since 2005 including a B2, an E300, an E60Bx and an E8, all still in good condition and functioning well. Mal prefers the E60Bx due to its high resolution and ability to record digital and thermal images, and video.

Mal trusts the durability and reliability of FLIR thermal imaging cameras for their excellent video speed, resolution and battery life.

Mal’s team has also discovered maintenance issues during pest inspections while using the thermal imaging camera, including electrical problems in buildings that could have had serious consequences.

Termite Solutions has therefore, expanded its service offering to also include building inspections, and diagnosing building faults such as leaking showers and roofs, moisture and waterproofing issues, and insulation irregularities.

The use of thermal imaging cameras not only allows Termite Solutions to save time on the job but also saves their client the expense of termite damage repair by accurately detecting termites before they can do too much damage. Termite Solutions’ investment in the FLIR cameras was quickly offset by the increase in business they generated, and the increase in the number of buildings the technicians could now complete in a day.