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Vector Mapping: New Forensic Tool for Building Envelope Problems
Low voltage vector mapping  
By Peter Brooks
President, Infra-red Analyzers

Published in New England Real Estate Journal, November 2011
A building’s “envelope” physically separates the building’s interior from its exterior environment, and includes the foundation, roof, walls, doors and windows. A sound building envelope keeps water from entering or accumulating inside the building and prevents excessive amounts of air and heat energy from escaping. When the envelope fails to perform either task, the stage is set for an escalating series of problems that can cause significant energy losses, substantial structural and interior damage, mold growth, occupant discomfort and illness, and litigation.

Vector Mapping Eliminates Guesswork

High voltage testing can be performed on both horizontal and vertical surfaces.
High voltage wand electrode is used
to test watertightness of flashings.
When there is an active roof leak or water intrusion, the low-slope roof system should be thoroughly investigated to locate and eliminate all sources of water leakage. Until recently, only indirect, hit-or-miss methods were available to verify the integrity of installed roofing membranes. With a new electronic leak detection technology called Vector Mapping, it’s now possible to positively identify all the breaches in a roof system, even those invisible to the naked eye. Compared to traditional methods of visual inspection and flood testing, this breakthrough technology saves building owners and managers significant risk, time, and money.

Vector mapping pinpoints leaks by tracing the flow of an electric current across the surface of the roof membrane. Because vector mapping detects membrane faults directly, repairs can be made on the spot and immediately retested to ensure watertight results.

Vector mapping can be performed using either low or high voltage equipment. In Low Voltage Vector Mapping, the surface of the roof membrane is moistened (not flooded) to create an electrically conductive medium. A conductive wire loop is laid out on the membrane around a section of the area to be tested. Leaks are detected when the electric current flows across the moistened membrane and down through the breach to the roof deck, completing a circuit. Our technician uses two probes connected to a vector deflection indicator to determine the direction of the electric current and precisely locate the breach.

High Voltage Electronic Leak Detection (ELD) is conducted on dry horizontal or vertical surfaces using a small current at relatively high voltage for safe and reliable testing. As the technician sweeps an electrode brush over the membrane surface, electricity will flow through any breach in the membrane, completing a circuit between the brush and the roof deck. In either method, membrane areas that are sound will act as an insulator and prevent the flow of current to the deck, thus verifying membrane integrity.

A Win-Win for All Parties

Professional application of developing technologies like Vector Mapping gives contractors, architects, engineers and building owners more accurate information about building performance while reducing troubleshooting, repair, and energy costs - a win-win for everyone concerned!

Call 800-879-1964 today for a free quote for a
Vector Mapping test of your roofing or waterproofing installation.
For more information, download our Vector Mapping, High Voltage ELD, and ELD Fusion® brochures.
Serving the Special Needs of Your Industry:
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  • Infra-red Analyzers works closely with roofing contractors to provide professional testing and analysis for a thorough understanding of the roofing system's condition. More

  • Our vector mapping technicians can help you troubleshoot the toughest waterproofing problems in virtually any application with high or low voltage leak detection technology. More

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