Start-up of the Month: Infrared Roofing Technologies
Having been affiliated with each other in the roofing industry for eight years, Traverse area residents Len Simkins and Chris Lee got to talking about the success they found using thermography, the process of interpreting data captured by a thermal infrared camera. With a background in roofing material sales, Simkins began realizing the benefits of thermography while helping homeowners locate and diagnose areas of heat and energy loss within their residence. At the same time, Lee was utilizing infrared imaging in his role as a roofing manufacturer's rep, where his commercial clients benefitted from the accuracy and cost savings the technology provided. Seeing an opportunity to blend their experience and provide solutions to both commercial entities and residential home owners, the pair officially founded Infrared Technologies. Co-owner Lee sat down with TCBN to discuss how the company works, as well as the tools they use to address the growing market for energy savings.
I've been working and selling in Northern Michigan for various companies for the past 17 years – five of those in the roofing manufacturer industry, where I quite frequently dealt with infrared thermography through independent companies to diagnose roofs. Len comes from a building materials background where he focused more on the residential side of products for homeowners. The predominate reason Len got involved with thermography was for the huge energy savings boost. We started this company knowing that infrared technology is a huge tool for more avenues than people realize.
How it Works
While we focus on helping clients maintain the largest part of the asset they own – their roof, we work on pretty much anything residential or commercial that deals with electrical, roofing and helping homeowners save money on insulation and ventilation within their home. Len basically handles the residential side of the infrared, I handle the commercial roofing aspect, and we both deal with the electrical side. The infrared technology helps us design solutions to existing problems within the building envelope. The use of infrared technology gives us a clear-cut starting point to find where the problem is and how large it is so we're not guessing. Once we get the pictures and ratings from the camera, we evaluate the readings and prepare an infrared report with a description of the problem.
For residential applications, we do a complete internal and external home evaluation to detect and evaluate the loss of heat through the seams, walls, doors, windows and roof systems. We also use it to detect a pipe that is broken underneath concrete, just based on the temperature difference. Residential scans are best done in cooler months when the heat is running. We shoot pictures of the exterior and interior, and if we find an area in question, the owner can then address the area with a contractor to improve the quality of the home. Infrared can also be used after building a home addition to make sure anything was not missed and the home is tight.
Commercial applications include annual and other required inspections as well as spot-on evaluations if a client suspects an issue. Typically, infrared is used in the electrical trade for scanning electrical panels, and in HVAC trades to evaluate life expectancy of a part or determine if systems are working harder than they should. We recommend commercial roofs be inspected every three years to detect problems before they start.
The cost of the service will be very minor compared to the savings you'll see over an annual, and possibly immediate, time frame. Also, some energy companies are offering homeowners credits toward the cost of using infrared thermal technology in their home through the local utility companies.
Len Simkins, 231.590.9899