The infrared thermography represents a very useful non-destructive technique in the building diagnostics, in the last few years this technique has been widely used also in the cultural heritage preservation field. The first applications of the infrared thermography techniques took place in the steel and iron industry to point out defects occurring in the production. In the building field the infrared thermography allows to inspect building morphology (i.e. irregularities in the masonry texture), building decay (i.e. plaster delamination, missing or damaged thermal insulation in building envelope, moisture sources) and building HVAC and electrical installations (i.e. chimneys, pipes, high-temperature due to electrical overloads). In particular, the european standard EN 13187 (november 1998) provides “qualitative” criteria for the detection of thermal irregularities in building envelope with regard to thermal insulation defects, air leakages and moisture effects. In this paper, according to several experiences on non-destructive testing of historical buildings in Tuscany (realized using a LW infrared camera with microbolometric sensor), the Authors wish to analyze some relevant aspects pointing out the limits and the accuracy of this method for diagnosis purpose of the masonry texture of buildings (using both passive and active techniques). The flexibility of the infrared method can depend, even significantly, on the infrared images recording conditions (i.e. exposure of the surfaces, climatic conditions, built environment). An interesting case is represented by historical buildings under restoration, generally not occupied, not heated and in hard-decay situations concerning both exterior envelope and interior partitions. Finally, the thermograms of some masonry walls made of well known materials with given thermal properties are reported; these images can be useful for the comprehension of in situ infrared detection of building walls with unknown properties.
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