Getting Better Results: Infrared Spectrometer
by Dr. Michael R. Linford
March 6, 2018
Temperature management is key to successful heat treatments. One device that is useful when spot checking temperatures in the treatment area is the hand-held laser temp sensor, an infrared spectrometer that reads surface temperatures. For best accuracy, do not leave this tool inside the treatment area for extended periods of time. Simply point this device at an object, and it reads the temperature of the surface that it is pointing at. Refer to the owner’s manual for proper instruction and use.
Based on field experience, the closer you are to the area you want to check for temperature the better. The further from the object you are the more error you get in your readings. This tool reads the surface temperature of whatever you point it at. This is an invaluable tool for finding cold spots inside the structure. By using this device, the technician will know that a particular portion of a wall is not heating well for some reason. Having this information enables the technicians to take corrective measures early in the process and overcome the difficulties. The use of a spectrometer by the technician can help avoid having a cold spot that is lagging behind the rest of the treatment and taking another hour or two to achieve a kill. It can also help the technician identify a cold location that does not have a probe that might need one. It is also useful in preventing damage by taking surface temperatures on sensitive items. Don’t point the laser into anyone’s eyes.
Measures surface temperatures
Keep in mind that the hand-held laser temp sensor measures only surface temperatures, and bed bugs migrate to cooler areas. A good example is demonstrated by the temperature differences between carpet, padding, and concrete subfloor. During a bed bug heat treatment, the surface of the carpet is a lethal 136°F. The padding is 128°F, while the concrete subfloor is only 89°F. As the temperatures increase, insects will migrate towards the cooler areas and will comfortably survive a treatment next to the subfloor. Wired or wireless temperature probes placed in hard-to-heat areas will help ensure lethal temperatures are achieved and maintained for the prescribed length of time.
Prevent heat damage during treatment
The more you walk through an area, the more you will observe. On your initial walk-through of an area, it is difficult to notice all the various little items—and even some of the large items—that might be of a sensitive or a delicate nature that you need to protect from the heat. By going through the treatment areas several times and looking for possible problems, you will find that you will occasionally pick up additional items that you missed initially. Also be aware that rooms start looking the same as you repeatedly check them. Be sure you are clearing your head before you enter every time. Treatment involves several hours and typically damage does not occur until the end of that time period. Therefore, by continually going inside and monitoring and evaluating the interior, you will often come across items that you missed initially and are able to either remove or protect them before damage occurs. Double-check yourself whenever you can.
Use your temperature chart to evaluate locations that are not heating fast enough. These areas need an increase in air flow.