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TermiCam Pty Ltd

Finding Termites with thermal cameras

By TermiCam CEO David Rice

TermiCam uses state of the art thermal imaging technology to find termite infestations in buildings and houses. Home-owners are often unaware of the extent of any termite problems, and can be over-charged by shifty operators who do not accurately identify the termite problems and subsequent treatment. Our termite detection equipment make use of the thermal imaging technology eliminate this by giving homeowners visible proof of any termite infestation and a record of the problem’s extent.

Finding termites can be difficult, yet knowing where they are located is important when deciding on the correct eradication program. Traditional methods rely on knocking on wood and drilling. Operators would simply tap on wood with the back of a screwdriver, poke holes in walls, or even pull them apart.

Thermal imaging cameras or thermal detection cameras offer a new, high technology detection system that is quick, effective, and does not damage your house like drilling and poking. It is non-destructive.

Heat Patterns of Termites in Buildings

Thermal detection cameras detect heat patterns. When termites invade buildings, they emit heat and only a thermal imaging camera can isolate the problem so it can be fixed. Hot spots — termites — come up as red or yellow and your TermiCam inspector can analyse the image.

Figure 1a. is a termite infestation as it appears to the eye. Figure 1b. is an infestation via infra red image. The first image shows nothing, but the thermal imaging camera shows what is going on behind the scenes. It reveals a yellow hot spot in the top right hand corner of the door jamb. This is termite heaven. Termites have already eaten much of the wood. Our early detection, and eradication, saved the owner thousands!

Finding Termites 1 

Fig 1a. Visible image of door jamb, no evidence of termite infestation

Finding Termites 2 

Fig 1b. Thermal image of door jamb, with yellow hot spot indicating termite activity.

Termites are cold-blooded, but they generate heat when the bacteria in their gut breaks down and digests cellulose, the main component of wood. It is this digestion and chemical reaction that generates heat.


Finding Termites 3 

Fig 2. Termite Queen can lay thousands of eggs per day.  Note: Queen, soldiers (with large heads) and small worker termites (which eat the wood).

Termites can form a small colony within six weeks. They live in the dark and stay in large groups, thus generating the heat that our thermal cameras can pick up. They especially like warm areas around power points and washing machines. A thermal imaging camera will detect the heat they emit in a floor, as shown in Figure 3.

Finding Termites 4 

Fig 3. Thermal image of a termite infestation in the floor of a house, near the corner. Termites show as red and yellow, indicating a hot area. The hand and face of the inspector also appear red, indicating body heat.

Advantages of thermal detection of termites

Thermal cameras can scan an entire wall, floor and ceiling without any damage. Our world-beating infrared TermiCam is environmentally safe, non-destructive and doesn’t use chemicals or radiation. All of which make tapping on wood with a screwdriver handle and pulling out walls look like messy, unreliable and destructive solutions from another era.

The camera picks up images of heat — possible termites — and stores them in its memory, to be viewed later as a permanent record of what the inspection found.

A follow-up inspection ensures the termites have been eradicated. As a general rule, properties in termite prone areas need an annual inspection, particularly in the warmer months.

The advantages of a TermiCam inspection:

Thermal inspections are great to find the problem, and accurately locate the site of major termite infestations. An example of this is TermiCam’s inspection of Brisbane’s parliament house in Australia. After finding a heat pattern on the balcony, we then located a large termite nest there. The balcony was pulled up (Figure 4) by cutting a hole in the concrete slab.

Finding Termites 5 

Fig 4. Hole in concrete floor to destroy termites found with thermal imaging.

A follow up inspection six months later found a large thermal anomaly in the top of the door head. We pulled down the doorframe to reveal another large termite nest which ran back into the lime stonewalls up to the corner of the building. We treated this area for termites and removed them. Another follow-up inspection gave the area the all clear.