The man who sees through walls, with thermal imaging
If you really want to know what’s going on in your home, then Stefan Mayer is the guy for you.
While qualifying as a yacht surveyor, the 38-year-old South African became fascinated by the possible uses of thermal imaging – heat-sensitive photography – in rooting out common problems in ordinary households.
Where is that damp coming from? Is my wiring safe? Why are my heating bills so high?
Heat Loss ImagingEnergy wastage does your pocket and the environment no favours, and even just one defective or badly-installed piece of insulation in your roof can make a big difference. His pictures show where the heat goes, and where the water is coming in.
It’s early days for Stefan’s Valbonne-based business, Astema, but Stefan is already discovering new and valuable uses for his craft.
“Solar panels usually have a five-year guarantee,” says Stefan, who is married with three young children. “It makes sense to have a thermal imaging check on them as they approach the end of that period. This can show up defective cells in the panel, and a claim can be made for a replacement panel.”
The man who sees through wallsThe positive impact on the environment that this new technology brings is a major motivating force for Stefan, a life-long lover of nature. The stark facts flow easily from him: “Water covers 75 per cent of the Earth’s surface. Just three per cent of this is fresh water, as opposed to salt. Seventy per cent of the fresh water is locked in polar ice. That leave’s less than one per cent for the human and animal population of the planet.”
“Not only do leaks within a home waste precious water, they contribute to high humidity conditions, which in turn lead to unnecessary energy consumption through the full-time use of dehumidifiers.”
Electrical Hot SpotStefan turned his imaging skills on my apartment, revealing speedily and clearly problems of hidden water penetration I had no idea about.
Great – or not so great. So what do I do about it? A visit from a plumber doesn’t sound like the worst idea in the world. Can Stefan recommend a reliable tradesman? He cannot.
“It’s important that people see me for what I am – completely independent of any other business. The client can be sure I am not exaggerating problems in order to get work for a associated company. The technology is open to abuse by the unscrupulous, who can fiddle with the colour scales of the images in order to blow a small problem into a much bigger one.”
Hidden HumidityOK, now for the nitty-gritty – cost. This was, almost uniquely in my experience as a resident of Cannes, a pleasant surprise. My apartment, at less than 100m2, comes in at €150. And for that he’ll find your cat that’s got lost under the floorboards. Or a nest of rats, if there happens to be one you didn’t know about.