There are a few terms that should always be included in an IR report, and a few that should never be included. One of the few terms that should not be included is “loose connection” when used in an electrical inspection report. For the simple reason that it may not be a loose connection that is presenting as a warmer spot in the electrical system. The term “loose connection” is often used to describe a “contact surface fault”, the thermal pattern for which is hottest at the point of increased resistance and cools the farther away the circuit you travel from the point of high resistance. There are many things that can cause this increase in resistance such as, loose connections, over-torqued connections, dirty connections, contaminated connections, and warped connectors. Any of these can cause increased resistance at the connection point. The problem with using the term “loose connection” is that Mongo (every crew has their Mongo) only has a 10lb hammer, an adjustable wrench, and a roll of duct tape in his pouch. So, when Mongo gets the repair order he reads “loose connection” and he just tries to tighten the connection even more. The end result is that the connection strips the threads or breaks the bolt. This is because the real cause for the increase resistance is that the connection was over-torqued in the first place.
The proper method of identifying this in the report is to use the term “high resistance connection” or “increased resistance at the connection”. Then, let the trades do their job and investigate the cause of the increased resistance and take appropriate repair actions. Recommended repair actions should allow the tradesman to apply their knowledge to investigate the problem. However, there are some companies that want more detail in the recommendations. The simple phrase “disassemble, inspect for damage, replace components as needed, clean all contact surfaces, reassemble using proper torqueing methods” is a very common statement that looks to have detail, but still allows the trades to use their knowledge to complete the repair.
The one thing to keep in mind as you write your reports is that there are NO absolutes in this technology! The use of disclaimer phases in encouraged, such as, “seems to be”, “could be”, “might be”, “possible fault”, “pattern suggests”; you get the idea. These allow "wiggle room" for error in interpretation of the IR image. The purpose of the report is to provide the end user with identification of a problem and enough information to be able to support the prioritization of the repair.