You may have seen some websites talk about using IR to detect water leaks so we are here to actually talk about this.
In most situations a standard IR camera won’t find a water leak by itself. Not that it can’t, but it usually won’t.
We are based in the Willamette valley in Oregon, our soil contains many artifacts from the Missoula floods and we can get areas of high clay and areas of high sand in the same town. Sandy soils will drain down, so only certain soils will allow a ‘wet spot’ or a ‘soggy area’ to develop. There can be multiple subterranian layers which direct the underground flow of water.
A buried water pipe for a house will typically be 18″ / 1.5′ / 0.5m down, but can be shallower or deeper in many cases. When the pipe is broken along a straight path in an open area the IR camera might be of use. With the resolution of a FLIR E8 we find most the time any shadows or groundcover changes along the path of the water line will greatly complicate seeing any significant indications with the thermal scan.