With the increasing knowledge of the health effects pertaining to mold exposure, it only makes sense that more and more individuals are concerned with preventing water damage within their property. In order to do so, one needs to understand the best approaches to achieving this somewhat tall order. The intention of this blog post is to provide guidance to those looking to evaluate moisture conditions within their homes, workplaces and even their means of transportation.
First and foremost, why would someone want to evaluate their property, or prospective property for moisture? Well, the answer is quite simple! Moisture left in materials can lead to the development of mold, which can lead to health effects from mold exposure. Does this mean that if I spill a cup of water on my carpet and don’t remove all of the moisture quickly, that I’m going to grow mold? Absolutely not! However, this isn’t to say that the developmental stages won’t now be set into place, just waiting for more excess moisture down the road. In short, prevent excess moisture within a property and you will prevent mold growth, mildew within bathrooms and an array of other prospective indoor environmental hazards.
Great… Now that I know why I want to prevent excess moisture from going unnoticed, how can I evaluate my property for moisture? Great question, and one that I will explain in detail. When it comes to evaluating or assessing your property for moisture, you’ll want to invest in a quality meter, or set of meters. When it comes to meter options, we don’t quite have the time to talk about all makes and models - so I’ll stick to what I have personal experience with. Ok, so I’ve used everything from all-in-one meters to dual-purpose meters and even meters specifically designed for one task. There are a medley of options for one to choose from out there, so how do you decide on a purchase? Well, let’s dissect the different types of meters in the next paragraph.
Types of Meters For Evaluating Moisture Content Within Materials And Relative Humidity.
All-in-one Meters: These meters are capable of acquiring moisture content in multiple ways. The first is in a non-destructive manner, typically by applying part of the meter atop the surface you’d like to evaluate. These meters will also allow for penetration into a substrate, typically with attached or detached replaceable pins. Lastly, these meters will be able to collect information on the moisture content within the air. This hygrometer feature allows for most meters to view temperature, relative humidity, dew point, grains per pound (GPP) and often wet bulb temperature and BTUs per pound (Enthalpy). Additionally, many of these meters possess a connection point, allowing for other adapters to be connected (e.g. deep penetrating prongs and specialty attachments for sliding behind baseboards).
Dual Purpose Meters: Possessing the ability to acquire both penetrating and non-penetrating moisture readings, these meters are used widely among both restoration professionals, general contractors and even the general public. Because of their more affordable price-point, when compared to the all-in-one meters, this type of meter is often sought after and highly desirable for many. These types of meters lack the ability to collect moisture content and additional information from the ambient air.
Specific Use Meters: The explanation of this type of meter is right there in the name - meters used to collect specific information. Whether you’re looking to take a non-destructive relative moisture reading, wanting to penetrate a material to determine specific moisture content or desiring knowledge of the Relative Humidity (RH) within the air - there’s a meter for each of these tasks. Note: When it comes to taking moisture readings in concrete, you’ll need a meter specifically designed for concrete. Utilizing a meter not specifically designed for concrete will produce wildly varying moisture percentages, of which will provide no relevant information for interpretation.
Choosing The Right Meter For the Job.
With so many meter options, which one is best for your needs? Well, that depends on what you’re looking to accomplish. If you’re only wanting to check moisture content in walls throughout multiple properties, as you search for the right place for you, a non-penetrating moisture meter would likely be the best choice. Generally, most property owners are not wanting damage to be made during an inspection process. When it comes to a Home Inspection, by a qualified professional, exceptions are often made. For a consumer looking to perform some moisture screening steps prior to settling on a property, the less destructive the better!
For individuals looking to truly evaluate a property for elevated moisture conditions, a relative hygrometer is needed. Whether a stand-alone thermohygrometer, or an all-in-one meter, you’ll need the capabilities of these types of meters to find out how humid the air within a space may be, as well as what specific areas of a property are more subject to higher humidity. If you’re looking to purchase based on price-point, with the least costly meter being the objective, an all-in-one meter will be best suited. However, if the combination of quality and accuracy is most important to you, you’ll likely be better off buying either individual meters or a dual purpose meter paired with a separate thermohygrometer.
Assuming assessment of moisture content within materials is the only goal, consider buying a dual purpose meter. You’ll see a more affordable price tag, when compared to purchasing a separate penetrating and non-penetrating meter. You’ll also only have to worry about battery replacement within one device. While some may not care about this, it’s definitely a factor that comes into play over the lifetime ownership of a meter.
What Brand Meter(s) Should I Purchase?
Let me start by making it known that I am not endorsing any specific brand, nor am I being compensated for the promotion of any specific brand. The meters referenced here are those that I’ve personally utilized at one point or another during my 15 years within the property damage restoration/ consulting industry. There are numerous meters out there and I encourage anyone considering the purchase of a meter to conduct their own research. While this blog post is a great start, comparing specific features offered by the varying meters from manufacturers is also recommended.
Tramex: Like most of the brands referenced within this post, Tramex has been manufacturing multiple different types of meters for many years. They not only produce quality products, but are well respected within the property restoration industry - making them a shoe in for consideration. Price point for Tramex meters will be more premium than those often found at local hardware stores and even online retail websites.
Delmhorst: A major player within the property restoration and farming industries. Delmhorst is yet another top-tier company when it comes to the manufacturing of quality, accurate meters. While their meter design is somewhat dated, don’t let that deter you from considering the purchase of a Delmhorst meter. Similarly to Tramex, Delmhorst meters are at a more premium price-point.
Vaisala: Headquartered in Finland, this International company has been a global leader in the manufacturing of environmental measurement equipment for quite some time. Vaisala has been well known for their superior accuracy with their Thermohygrometers. Even established companies already manufacturing property restoration equipment have made the decision to private label Vaisala’s meters - a strong testament to the confidence in Vaisala’s equipment. You should expect a very premium price-point for many of the meters manufactured by Vaisala.
Protimeter: While this may be the most common brand for meters used within the property restoration industry, these meters are also among the most attractive looking - if that’s something you’re into. Sporting nice curvatures and rubberized grip throughout, these meters definitely feel like a premium product! When it comes to pricing, Protimeter seems to be comparably priced to Delmhorst meters.
Flir: While still the “new kid on the block”, Flir has been manufacturing state of the art equipment for years. Furthermore, Flir continues to own the Thermal Imaging market, offering some of the most technologically advanced equipment around. It’s no surprise that when they acquired Extech, they would soon start producing moisture detecting equipment of their own. Being the first manufacturer to combine moisture detection and infrared imaging within a single meter, expect this company to be a major contender in the years to come. For now, their line-up of moisture meters are certainly above average, but not quite on the level of some other companies. Nonetheless, you can pickup an all-in-one meter for much less than many other companies as well!
General: If this name looks familiar to you, it should. General moisture meters are in just about every local hardware store across the country! While this manufacturer is not a contender within the property restoration industry, it certainly contends well with those looking to equip themselves with an inexpensive moisture meter. Having owned one of their pin-style meters for years, solely as backup meter, I can say that their pin-type meters works as advertised - and will differentiate between wet and dry conditions with no problems.
Bringing This Post To A Close…
Well, I can only imagine that if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve found some relevant content. I do hope that the content provided within this post will assist you in making a near or future purchase of a moisture meter. As I mentioned above, this post should solely be used as reference, during your search for a new, suitable meter for your needs. As a restoration professional, I’ve had the liberty of working with many different types of meters and will include photos of those within my own current personal collection, as well as some teaser photos for a future blog post - pertaining to moisture sensor monitoring equipment for properties. Should you have any questions relating to moisture meters, best practices, etc, my inbox is always open. For the sake of preventing the lovely world of internet spam, I’ll break up my email address, but I think you can figure out how it goes - josh @ discreetrestoration .com
Best of luck in your meter researching!