Just as the human body can get diagnosed via imaging systems, so can commercial flat roof systems. The truth is, your building is very much like a human body and requires maintenance and care to last long and be healthy.
In roofing, MOISTURE, is the enemy. So diagnostic tools used for leak detection are geared to hunt down water. Infrared and impedance resistance meters are the most common and are great when used together. The infrared camera is the shotgun and the Tramex (impedance) meter is the sniper rifle. The Tramex meter is great for verifying what infrared suggests visually. Infrared can be misleading if conditions are not known well or the operator is not properly trained. The practice of using professional diagnostic equipment in roofing is a great way to help the client understand the severity or perhaps the benign sense of a situation. Providing thermographs that prove the findings also provide peace of mind when a contractor presents bad or costly news to the owner.
“Rather than rely on a contractor's opinion, make decisions based on factual data instead.” - Matthew Lamz
Infrared moisture scans will eventually find their way into the mainstream of roofing protocol once their value is truly appreciated. One flight from a drone or even a Tramex scan can identify damaging moisture that can cost the building owner much more if not discovered sooner.
Diagnostic tools are forever changing and the newest concept allows for the advent of the "green roof" with vegetation planted on the roof system. Vegetative roofs require watering so leak detection can be extremely difficult. Electronic leak detection systems are embedded with copper cables in a grid pattern and connected to a low power source. If there is a leak and the waterproofing membrane is punctured, the copper circuit will close and the location of the short will be visible on a screen. This provides for efficient and effective computerized leak detection.
Also on the horizon are changes to the FAA drone pilot laws. In early 2021, the FAA released their intention to move forward with a law that will require all new drones to have tracking capabilities from manufacturing and those functionalities must be had by pilots to fly legally. Concern is that the signal used to track drones will be detectable and locatable, potentially causing for confrontation of the public with pilots.