Can you use Thermal Imaging for Water Leaks?

Shortly answered, thermal imaging can definitely come in handy when talking about water leaks. You can use a thermal imaging device for water leaks, finding the center of the problem as well as making a strategy on further fixing the problem and even preventing if of becoming even worse. Keep on reading to find out what the procedure is and how you can implement a device like a thermal imaging device to help you detect and fight water leaks.

First and foremost, let’s take a look at the problem itself

When there are present leaks in different water systems, the first indicator that this problem could possibly occur is current lower-than-normal boiler pressure or even certain anomalies in the water system – uneven temperature of water, no present hot water etc. With only this information, for the naked eye, a person will hardy have any sort of clues as to what is happening before locating the possible water leak. Identifying the problem and finding water leaks with a naked eye can be very time-consuming and a labor-intensive process overall.

This is so because all water systems are hidden under tons and tons of concrete or flooring. The main and most popular, even though not so practical process of finding out if there is damage or leak to the water system is digging up to the level of the water system and further inspecting the system itself. But this is definitely not the most conventional and safer way as there is the possibility of doing a lot more digging to find out exactly where the problematic spot is, especially if there is a water leak. For this exact purpose, and to prevent all the digging and further headaches and labor-intensive processes, the thermal imaging device comes into play.

With water temperature of around 15 to 30 degrees Celsius, finding the leak location especially when using a Thermal imaging device does not require an extremely powerful device to start with. A standard resolution and standard sensitivity thermal imaging device will definitely do the job perfectly.

The Proccess

While all floors and walls typically remain at their room temperature, of course based on what the season is outside as well as the weather conditions, typically floors and walls hover around 16 to 21 degrees Celsius. Although when there is a potential leak happening or even before the leak happens itself, the temperature of the floor or wall that will be possible affected by the leak changes drastically.

Depending on the water that runs on the specific water system, the temperature of the floor or wall changes by 4-6 degrees Celsius. Up by 4-6 degrees if the water system runs on hot water and 4-6 degrees below room temperature if the water system runs on cold water. A thermal imaging device will immediately detect those drastically changing heat patterns with different color contrasts depending on the changing temperature, if it is up or down. A big part of the thermal imaging device cameras has specific settings that can adapt to drastic changes in temperature that is detected and display those changes very quickly for the user to be able to spot the possible problematic spot for a potential water leak.

Potential water leaks that are coming from hot water pipes actually produce a distinctive thermal imaging pattern that is ‘’projected’’ on the floor or wall and literally glow, when looking at it through a thermal imaging device. It gets a little tricky here, because thermal imaging devices can actually detect hot water pipes even through the floor, even if there is no leak happening.

The thermal imaging devices do not exactly see ‘’through’’ the floor but more or so they detect the projected heat that is running through the water systems and this specific heat is projected on the floor or wall. So differentiating the patterns on both problematic spots and non-problematic spots with hot water pipe systems can be a bit tricky. The main difference between the two thermographic pictures is that when there is a current or about-to-happen hot water leak, the thermographic pattern of the pipe is quite different compared to a non-damaged and no-potential water leak pipe. The problematic pattern is much wider and spreads much wider than the pipes itself as heat starts getting everywhere and is not being limited only in the pipe.

A healthy and non-damaged pipe releases a much tighter thermographic pattern with not as much bright contrasts. So to prevent the possibility of thinking that you have a damaged pipe, dig up the ground or floor and then finding out that the hot water pipe is perfectly fine, you have to pay very close attention to the thermographic pattern of the pipe.

A healthy and non-damaged pipe releases a much tighter thermographic pattern with not as much bright contrasts. So to prevent the possibility of thinking that you have a damaged pipe, dig up the ground or floor and then finding out that the hot water pipe is perfectly fine, you have to pay very close attention to the thermographic pattern of the pipe.

As with a non-damaged pipe that runs cold water, you can barely detect anything with a thermal imaging device as the thermographic pattern is controlled and limited only in the cold water pipe itself and there are hardly any thermographic patterns that the thermal imaging device can detect.

Optimal Leak Detection with thermal imaging devices

For the most optimal process on detecting potential water leaks and moisture damages you have to make a detailed look on your house, following the pipe trails to prevent yourself of missing some damaged area which can potentially turn into a disaster. Doing manual and often checks on your house or building will definitely be of help.

A thermal imaging device is your best solution for this case as all leaks and even moisture damages show up much colder than their surroundings when the temperature condition is normal. Even if it’s the winter, if you heat up a certain room where you are scared that there are potential water leaks or moisture damage, the part that can be damaged by moisture or even have a current water leak will take much longer to heat up as a wall or floor, that is full of moisture will logically take much longer to heat up as the moisture from the floor has to evaporate first and then start getting heated up.

This whole process will definitely be picked up by the thermal imaging device as it will show up temperature anomalies in the problematic area.

Some thermal imaging devices have an additional feature for water leaks and moisture damage called a ‘’moisture pen’’. This feature is used when you locate a problematic area and you are sure that something isn’t as it should be and there are potential water leaks or moisture damage. The feature is basically used to see how bad the problem is and to what extent the moisture percentage is. When you figure out how bad the problem is, you can take much faster precautions to immediately start working on the problematic area and prevent that area of even possibly worsening.

Thermal imaging devices suited for water leaks/moisture Damage

Even though almost every single thermal imaging device can do the job of possibly locating and detecting potential water leaks and water damage, there are certain thermal imaging devices that can definitely help you much better if you are constantly having trouble of locating and detecting a big problem with moisture or water leaks.

The FLIR thermal imaging devices have a unique moisture meter that almost instantly detects the humidity in the room itself as well as comparing the temperature of surrounding walls and floors to potentially detect if there are any anomalies. So if you are having a lot of headaches with moisture damage and water leaks, why not pick up the best possible thermal imaging device so that you can be able to fight with those water leaks and moisture damage almost instantly.


The benefits of using a thermal imaging device to fight water leaks and detect potential moisture damages are a lot more compared to traditional ways or the naked eye. Tracing hidden pipes and finding hidden water leaks without having to instantly dig up walls or floors to only ‘’check’’ if you’ve hit the right spot and if the damage is where you actually dug up is definitely a big advantage.

Even if you only buy a thermal imaging device with the said purpose of detecting and locating water leaks and moisture damage, it will definitely come much budget-friendly for you to buy a device of this kind. Having to repair dug up floors or walls, or even damaging a strong and non-damaged pipe if the digging process is not done correctly will harm your budget much more compared to just playing it safe and getting yourself a thermal imaging device to detect and battle with those potential water leaks and moisture damages.

You might also find this article interesting – 25 Myths About Thermal Technology

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