Choosing the best moisture meter for building applications

Choosing the best moisture meter for building applications

MEP on Tile-700x700
Moisture meters can be very useful tools for the building industry. They can let you know that concrete is dry enough to accept a covering, a surface is dry enough to paint without bubbling, and that timber is dry enough to be used. They can also be used to find leaks in pipes and help you locate elevated moisture levels. There are two main types of moisture meters for building materials: capacitance (or non-destructive) and resistance (pin style). We will go into these two styles of meter below and highlight which style of meter is suited to different applications, and their pros and cons.. 

Resistance (pin) moisture meters

As the name suggests, pin moisture meters have 2 metal pins that are inserted into the substrate to take a reading. Each pin works as an electrode and the electrical resistance between the two pins is measured. The drier the wood is, the more it resists electrical flow. This resistance is converted to a moisture reading inside the meter and the reading is displayed on the screen. Generally pin moisture meters are calibrated to Douglas Fir as the standard, and correction charts are available for different species. The depth of the measurement is dependent on how deep the pins are pushed. Some moisture meters will have different settings for different timber types, and even non-timber substrates such as plasterboard or concrete. Due to the fact that pin moisture meters require you to push pins into what you are measuring they are better suited to situations where slight blemishes are not of concern such as measuring joists, the underside of timber flooring, or even firewood. They are not well suited to measurements where the area to be measure will be on display such as cabinetry, plasterboard walls, and furniture. .

Best for:
- Saw mills
- Timber yards
- Firewood
- Timber framed houses
- Furniture makers

Top models:

PM7 – Professional moisture meter
The Professional is a hand-held, Digital, Pin-Type Moisture meter designed to take precise measurements of moisture content in wood, wood by-products and other building materials. It is ideal for use with wood, plaster, brick and plasterboard (drywall), and as such is ideal for flooring, indoor air quality, water restoration, pest control, EIFS, roofing, the marine industry, inspection and surveying, along with the wood industry. The digital display gives super accurate readings up to 0.1%. It features built-in pins and a built-in socket for use with a range of external electrodes.

The Testo 606-1 is a great moisture meter for measuring the moisture content and a great unit for locating wet points in brick, cement, plaster and mortar. It also gives accurate readings of wood moisture levels with characteristic curves for beech, spruce, larch, oak, pine and maple, as well as concrete, plaster, mortar and brick

Non-destructive moisture meters

Non-destructive, or pinless, moisture meters work by creating an electromagnetic field in the timber. The field is affected by the amount of moisture in the timber and this is converted to a moisture reading by the meter. Typically pinless moisture meters will measure approximately 20mm into the timber or without damage to the surface. These are advantageous for applications where damaging the surface is unacceptable such as timber floors or during building inspections, and in instances where inserting pins may be difficult, such as concrete. Non-destructive moisture meters are more typically used for applications where a relative reading is more important, such as comparing one area of a wall to another area. They are also useful for areas where it is impossible to get pin moisture readings such as under tiles. By using in conjunction with apps like the Tramex moisture mapping app (see below), you can create a moisture map easily to determine areas of concern.

MEP Moisture Map
Figure 1: Shows a moisture map created using the MEP with the Tramex Moisture Mapping App

Best for:
- Building inspections
- Difficult areas (behind tiles etc)
- Remedial building work
- Heritage listed houses 

Top models:

Moisture Encounter Plus

MEP-Extended Warranty (1)
The Moisture Encounter Plus is a high quality and non-destructive moisture meter. It can measure wood moisture in the range of 5% to 30% and give 0-100% comparative readings for other materials. The non-destructive rubber electrodes can measure moisture up to 30mm into material.

Hydromette Compact B - IC-2030

The Hydromette Compact B is equipped with a digital LCD and a universally applicable ball sensor for a non-destructive location of moisture concentration in all kinds of building materials as well as for assessment of moisture distribution in walls, ceilings, floor finish, and other set building materials. It has a comparative range of 0-100 and is pocket sized for quick and easy measurements.

If you would like to discuss this article further please feel free to contact one of our friendly Scientists via email or phone on 1300 737 871.

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