Moisture Meters

Moisture Meters

Moisture meters are instruments used to detect the amount of water in a given sample or building material, including roofing, wood, tiles, concrete, fibreglass, insulation, and plaster and plasterboard. These instruments use various technologies, including probes, pins, electromagnetic signals, and lasers, to detect, map and measure the presence or percentage of water, either on a specific surface or across a large area.

Non-intrusive (pin-less) moisture meters work by transmitting low-frequency signals into the material being tested and measuring the amount of impedance encountered by the signal. Differing amounts of moisture present in the test material result in differing levels of impedance, which the moisture meter uses to calculate the moisture percentage. Non-invasive moisture meters are particularly useful for scanning large areas and surfaces that are not able to be physically penetrated.

Pin-type moisture meters use contact pins or probes that are inserted into building materials to obtain precise moisture readings. While these kinds of meters provide far more accurate measurements, they leave small holes in building materials, where pins or probes are inserted, and are only able to readings for a small, localised area.

What kinds of problems can a moisture meter help to detect?

Moisture meters can detect areas of elevated moisture content. More advanced moisture meters can measure:

  • moisture levels on and below the surface of a material
  • ambient air humidity, or relative humidity, and automatically provide psychrometric calculations (measurements associated with the thermodynamics of moist air)
  • the dew point and surface temperature, and automatically calculate the difference between them
  • equilibrium humidity measurement in concrete floors (the level of moisture content in a concrete floor at the point at which the concrete will cease to dry any further)

Elevated moisture levels in building materials can cause, or facilitate, a range of problems that can seriously damage the appearance and structural integrity of those materials, including mould, wood rot, pest infestations. Moisture meters can be used to trace evidence of moisture intrusion back to the source, enabling the problem to be identified and addressed. 

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How do moisture meters help detect building faults or problems?

Moisture meters enable the building inspector to determine the moisture profile of an area, to identify areas of possible building defects or faults. Moisture mapping can help to identify problems with pooling of water and excessive equilibrium moisture content, particularly in the ground, within concrete, roof spaces, floors, and walls.

Moisture mapping across large areas is particularly helpful after flooding or known instances of water ingress, to enable the building inspector to monitor the speed of change in moisture patterns. Where previous moisture detection or mapping has identified a problem area, the moisture meter can measure improvements in the moisture profile of an area after action has been taken to rectify an identified fault or defect.

Moisture meters can be used to detect problem areas of uncontrolled moisture intrusion caused by damaged or faulty building materials, structural faults or poor installation or workmanship.

How do moisture meters help to detect mould and bacteria?

While moisture meters cannot identify mould or bacteria directly, they are able to help identify areas that are at risk of developing problems with these issues. Moisture-affected wood is prone to harbouring mould and fungi, which will generally begin to grow in wood with a moisture content of approximately 20%.

The growth of mould and fungi within and around a building can cause health problems and result in visible damage to both the interior and exterior of a property. It is therefore essential to discover problem areas with elevated moisture levels that may provide the perfect breeding ground for fungi, mould and bacteria.

The Vital team of qualified and experienced building inspectors has extensive experience using our state of the art, multi-functional moisture meter to quickly and easily detect the presence of problematic moisture in walls, floors, ceilings and other hidden or relatively in accessible areas of a building that are susceptible to moisture damage and may be prone to. 

How do moisture meters help detect pest activity or infestation?

In addition to being essential in identifying areas prone to problems such as rising damp, and detecting faults, structural defects or damage that is allowing water intrusion, moisture meters can also be used to indirectly identify pest infestations within a building.

Moisture-affected wood often plays host to pests such as beetles and borers, which can thrive in wood with a moisture content of just 12%. If left unchecked, water intrusion and associated pest infestation can cause serious damage to building materials, which may significantly affect the structural integrity of a building.

Where there is evidence of water intrusion and pest activity, and it is suspected there may be nests or damage hidden within walls, floors, ceilings or other hidden or hard to access areas of a building, our inspectors can use our state-of-the-art multi-functional moisture meter to identify problem areas and track moisture intrusion back to its source.

For example, termites construct mud tube tunnels within walls, floors, and ceilings, which retain a high moisture content, and moisture meters can be used to trace these moisture-laden tunnels back to the nest or the point of moisture intrusion. 

Vital Building Inspections Sydney's moisture meter technology

We use a Protimeter MMS2® BLD8800-C-S moisture meter, which is the world’s most advanced all-in-one moisture meter.

The multi-functional BLD8800-C-S allows pin-less, pin-type and probe moisture measurements, making it incredibly effective at both scanning large areas for elevated moisture levels for the purposes of moisture mapping and for pinpointing particularly problematic areas and establishing their exact moisture content.

Our Protimeter MMS2® BLD8800-C-S moisture meter is just one of the technologies that Vital’s building inspectors can use when undertaking your inspection. 

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