How Do Infrared Electrical Scans Work And What Wiring Problems Can They Find?

Infrared electric scans are an inexpensive way to check your building for issues with its electrical wiring. It relies on the fact that faulty wiring often becomes much hotter than neighboring wires that have no issues, and this temperature difference can be seen quite easily on an infrared camera. Wiring that's too hot can melt, and faulty wiring can also lead to equipment damage or electrical fires. As a result, infrared scanning is a good way to save money by preventing more expensive problems later on. To learn more about how infrared scans find wiring problems and what problems they can detect, read on.

How Can Infrared Scanning Find Wiring Problems?

Surfaces emit a small amount of infrared light based on their temperature, with hot surfaces emitting more infrared light and cold surfaces emitting less. While infrared light can't be seen with your eyes, it can be detected using an infrared camera. Measuring the amount of infrared light a surface is emitting allows the camera operator to gauge how hot the surface is.

When electrical current passes through a wire, the wire will heat up. The amount that the wire heats up is based on the amperage of the electrical current and the resistance of the wire. Abnormal amounts of amperage or resistance caused by a wiring problem causes the wire to become quite hot, and this unusually high amount of heat can be detected easily using infrared imaging.

Infrared electrical scans are commonly performed on electrical panels and electrical wiring in homes and businesses. They can also be performed on valuable electrical equipment like electric motors or air conditioning units in order to detect potential problems with the wiring inside them. When a wire appears noticeably hot on an infrared camera, it normally indicates a problem — fixing these problems early helps to prevent equipment damage and electrical fires.

What Wiring Problems Can Infrared Scans Detect?

One of the most common problems that infrared scans can detect is an overloaded circuit. Circuits are rated for a certain number of amps running through them, and the circuit will break if they're overloaded past this number. However, power draw that's very close to the circuit's limit for a long period of time can cause the circuit to heat up to dangerous levels without ever causing the circuit to trip. Circuits in an electrical panel aren't designed to withstand loads close to their maximum capacity for more than a few hours, and excessively hot circuits can damage wiring and equipment.

An infrared electrical scan can detect circuits that have excessive power draw because they'll be hotter than nearby circuits. This problem can be fixed by either upgrading the circuit and connected wiring or decreasing the power draw by moving equipment to other circuits with a lower load.

Infrared electrical scans can also detect loose connections between electrical wires. A loose connection has a very high electrical resistance, which causes the wire to heat up quickly whenever an electrical current passes through it. The wire with the loose connection will look much hotter than adjacent wires when viewed through an infrared camera.

Loose connections can lead to equipment damage, since they often aren't supplying as much electrical current as they're supposed to — some of the electricity is lost to heat due to the high resistance of the wire. In addition, loose connections that heat up to extreme temperatures can melt wires or cause arcing that can lead to an electrical fire. Tightening the connection can prevent these problems from occurring.

Overall, an infrared electrical scan is a quick and inexpensive way to spot potential problems in your electrical system before they can lead to equipment damage or electrical fires. Everyone from homeowners to factory owners can benefit from one, since the concept is the same everywhere — checking for extremely hot wires often reveals problems that can be easily fixed before they can cause more severe issues. If you'd like to reduce your risk of electrical fires and other damage, call an infrared electrical scan service in your area and have your building's wiring examined.