Time-lapse thermography for building defect detection

Matthew Fox, David Coley, Steve Goodhew, Pieter De Wilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


Building thermography traditionally captures the thermal condition of building fabric at one single point in time, rather than changes in state over a sustained period. Buildings, materials and the environment are, however, rarely in a thermal equilibrium, which therefore risks the misinterpretation of building defects by employing this standard methodology. This paper tests the premise that time-lapse thermography can better capture building defects and dynamic thermal behaviour. Results investigating the temporal resolution required for time-lapse thermography over two case study houses found that under typical conditions small temperature differences (approximately 0.2 K) between thermal areas could be expected for 30-min image intervals. Results also demonstrate that thermal patterns vary significantly from day-to-day, with a 2.0 K surface temperature difference experienced from one day to the next. Temporal resolutions needed adjusting for different types of construction. Time-lapse experiments raised practical limitations for the methodology that included problems with the distance to target and foreground obstructions. At the same time, these experiments show that time-lapse thermography could greatly improve our understanding of building transient behaviour and possible building defects. Time-lapse thermography also enables enhanced differentiation between environmental conditions (such as clear sky reflections), actual behaviour and construction defects, thereby mitigating the risk of misinterpretation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-106
Number of pages12
JournalEnergy and Buildings
Early online date11 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015


  • Defect detection
  • Time-lapse thermography
  • Transient behaviour

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