Infrared Training Center

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Level III Class Gets Schooled…by the Banquet Staff

Ronald D. Lucier, ASNT NDT Level III

level-III-thumbLast month I was conducting a Level III class at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. If you aren’t familiar with the facility it is a wonderful place to conduct meetings. The staff is great, food is overwhelming and the rooms are inexpensive and clean. Plus the hotel has many restaurants, a movie theater, a bowling alley and of course a casino. It has been an ITC favorite for over 10 years.

Lately, though, we have been having issues with the meeting room, specifically the temperature.  The past couple times I’ve taught there it has been very cold and students have complained.  Now, I like my hotel room cold enough to hang meat, but 63˚F (17.2˚C) is a bit extreme for conducting a meeting unless you are in Antarctica, which we were not. 

Once again, we were having the same issues…

I spoke with the Engineering Department but was getting nowhere with a solution and it was still too cold. Now, getting a little frustrated, I mentioned it again to one of the banquet staff who had just refreshed our coffee.  He looked around the room and, seeing pretty much all the guys wearing coats, said:

“Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the coffee pots are right beneath the thermostat?”


We all looked. He was right! DUH! How stupid could we be, a room full of professional thermographers!

Before I could grab a thermal image of the arrangement, he had already moved the table, but I did manage to put my T650 into program mode for about 50 minutes and look at the before and after images:


The red cursor shows the position of the thermostat on the wall and you can clearly see where the coffee pots were located.  They were heating the thermostat so the HVAC system, thinking that the room was too warm, kept supplying cold air!

Take a look at a plot of the thermostat temperature: level-III-coffee-graph-2014-11

Once the coffee pots were removed the wall cooled from 70.3˚F (21.3˚C ) to 67.2˚F (19.6˚C) in about 14 minutes.

After that time the thermostat and wall started to increase in temperature because the room started warming. Ta Da! Problem solved!

Eventually the room stabilized around 68˚F (20˚C) which was fine, but every morning (depending on the waiter) I had to move the coffee pots so we didn’t have a repeat of the issue.

So, what are the underlying lessons here? Many of us go through life oblivious of our surroundings. However, as experienced infrared thermographers we are trained to not do that. We are tasked to look for the simple solution to complex problems and in my classes I stress that most failures have a thermal signature. This one sure did and I didn’t see it. Neither did the sixteen Level III candidates in my class! We all had a good laugh, though. Great food too and, if you ever join us for training there, the filet mignon for lunch is fantastic!

- Ron


  1. Good detective work - IR Everywhere!

  2. IR is truly an eye opener. Excellent IRBWA Ron.
    On a similar note, the thermostat is usually placed over a hole to run the connecting wires through. If the wall is connected to the exterior (think huge plenum) any negative pressure will bring the exterior air directly to the thermostat.
    An air barrier test, should show and enhance this affect if present.

    1. You're right Scott. This is why any HVAC tech worth his salt will never install a t-stat on an exterior wall unless it's the only option.

      I've been to the Orleans twice for Inframation conferences and I have to agree with Ron, a great facility to handle the event.

  3. Seems no detective work was involved - but a waiter gave the solution (which should have been SO obvious to a room full of professionals - hope none were building science candidates?) But I guess we have all been in a similar position. Not that I am going to divulge my worst blunder(s)!!!! So don't hold your breath! Ha. However - I think that every time a Professional Thermographer runs into something which is thermally or moisture related, that we ought to jump right up and put on our IR glasses (Turn on the camera and see what we can see)
    Erik Thorup

  4. Well written article, Ron. Glad to see your passion after all these years! Miss ya.