HVAC Air Leaks
In energy audits of homes and other buildings, technicians use blower doors in conjunction with thermal imagers. The blowers create positive or negative pressures within interior envelopes, making leaks much more apparent in thermal images. Given rising electricity prices, follow-up actions based on the findings of an energy audit are almost certain to save at least 15% of the energy a household uses.
According to the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than 45 percent of all the fuel burned by U.S. manufacturers is consumed to raise steam. “Steam is used to heat raw materials and treat semi-finished products. It is also a power source for equipment, as well as for building heat and electricity generation. But steam is not free. It costs approximately $18 billion (1997 dollars) annually to feed the boilers generating the steam.”
Thermal images of electrical systems can indicate the operating condition of the equipment in those systems. In fact, the beginning of thermal imaging started more than four decades ago. The principal commercial application for thermal imaging since has been electrical system inspection.
For the most part industrial and commercial electrical systems are getting safer and more reliable. The U.S. Fire Administration’s most recent report, analyzing data from 2001, estimates that 8.7% of the nation’s 47,785 non-residential fires were caused by electrical distribution equipment. That’s 32% fewer than in 1998.
When a motor bearing fails, the motor heats up and lubrication begins to break down. The windings overheat and then the temperature sensor cuts out and stops the motor. Worst case, the shaft binds up, the rotor locks up and the motor fails completely.
Furnaces & Boilers
Furnaces and boilers play important roles in many industries as well as in the heating of commercial and institutional buildings. They heat products in petroleum, chemical and pharmaceutical industries and produce or handle molten products in glass, steel and other industries.
The presence of moisture in building envelopes, whether from leakage or condensation, can have serious consequences. For example, moisture in insulation reduces its insulating capability, causing heating and/or cooling losses and wasting energy. Moisture can also cause structural deterioration and foster the growth of mold, while a serious roof leak can damage or destroy a building’s contents.