Is it time to check for moisture-related problems at home?
Want to get out in front of these issues before they worsen?
To ensure the inspection process is straightforward, we have put together a detailed guide on moisture meters.
In this review, you will learn about…
- The benefits of using a moisture meter for a home inspection
- How a moisture meter works
- What to think about before purchasing a new moisture meter
- Our recommended choice for the best moisture meter
To understand the importance of a well-rated moisture meter, let’s begin by defining what it is and how it works.
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
My #1 top choice for moisture meters is made by Calculated Industries and it is a great product and an affordable price. The meter has two sensors for scanning materials, pinless and pinned. The pinless pad allows you to check big areas very quickly such as a drywall basement. The two pins allow you to poke into materials with differing depths such as carpet.
Top 5 Moisture Meters For Inspections
Are you short on time? Want to skip the main article and get to my top picks for the best moisture meters? Check out my short list right here...
What Are Moisture Meters For Home Inspecting?
A moisture meter is designed to effectively detect moisture content in different materials. While all home inspectors carry this tool in their equipment bag, the average homeowner can also rely on pinless moisture meters for spotting hidden issues related to moisture buildup.
For example, if there’s a leak present behind the drywall, this tool can accurately determine where the moisture is located. This is essential in verifying whether or not the property is in good condition.
Additional uses for a moisture meter can include woodworking (furniture makers) and flooring contractors (installations). These professionals use the meter to determine what’s happening under the surface before moving forward with a project.
Each moisture meter comes with a specific set of features, a detailed display, and audible settings for detecting leaks. These tools can differ in appearance but the general process remains the same.
High-grade moisture meters offer specific information such as the moisture content percentage (%MC), temperature, and other relevant data. The idea is to get a comprehensive look at what’s going on behind a wall or under the floor. These tools may come with a scale, analog, or digital display depending on the manufacturer’s design.
Please note, each moisture meter for wood (or drywall) will vary in terms of its performance, accuracy, and usability. This includes what type of materials the tool works with when put to use by a homeowner or inspector.
In general, the average moisture meter is designed to work with wood and can offer detailed insight into wood moisture content. The range tends to be smaller for wood (5-40%) when calculating moisture content. For materials other than wood, the readings can range from 0-100% (dry to saturated) such as with drywall.
When a person uses one of these moisture meters to get a reading, they will notice special LED indicators highlighting the reading. This helps shed light on how severe the leak is or isn’t. It’s recommended to have a good understanding of what will be measured (i.e. wood, drywall) before making an investment. This can make it easier to get accurate, efficient readings from day one.
A drywall moisture meter also comes with indicators highlighting how users should interpret the readings. For example, if you scan a drywall surface and the moisture meter is showing “green,” this means the area is dry. This makes it easier to know whether or not the moisture level is bad or not for that specific material.
Read Also: Top 5 Best HVAC Leak Detectors
What Are The Benefits of Moisture Meters?
There are several advantages for using a moisture meter and making it a part of your maintenance routine.
The benefits include:
- Immediate Detection of Small and/or Large Leaks
- Increased Efficiency
- Accurate Readings
- Ideal for Tight/Hidden Areas
In general, homeowners often forget to check what’s behind the surface. The property’s structure can quickly start to breakdown after a while if these problems are ignored.
As a result, it’s important to not only understand the benefits of a moisture meter but to also invest in one.
How to Use a Moisture Meter For A Home Inspection?
Learning how to use a moisture meter correctly is important.
The first step is to calibrate the tool before using it. If you don’t calibrate the moisture meter, it will give out inaccurate readings. Remember, it’s always important to test different spots on the same surface to get a precise reading.
You will also want to make sure the moisture meter is fully functional during the process. This means it should offer a complete reading (moisture content, temperature). If not, the tool isn’t working as designed and may have to be re-calibrated.
Just like any measuring tool, it’s highly recommended to take multiple readings. Even the best moisture meter can give odd readings from time to time. As a result, it’s smart to go over the same spot at least 2-3 times. This will offer insight into how much moisture content is present under the surface.
To understand the readings, please take the time to read the tool’s manual.
How to Pick the Best Moisture Meter To Inspect An Area?
A high-quality wood moisture meter must be user-friendly.
If not, the tool can waste a lot of time and become difficult to use. Remember, the entire reason behind using a meter is to keep things simple and efficient. When the tool isn’t usable, you can’t take advantage of its features. The right moisture meter will always be safe, easy to use, and quick during inspections.
While the main features do matter, it’s important to consider how easy a moisture meter is to use.
This doesn’t only include the readings but how clear the display is, how snappy the menus are, and how easy the settings are to switch. If there are problems in this regard, you’re not going to have a fun time using the new meter.
The user experience has to be taken into account before spending your hard-earned money on this tool. Take the time to understand your requirements and then invest in a moisture meter.
Type of Material(s)
What materials are going to be inspected using the moisture meter? This is an important question you need to ask right away.
Each moisture meter is designed to work with a specific set of materials (i.e. wood, drywall). For example, a pin-type meter might work well with loose materials such as insulation, while pinless meters work better with firmer materials like a concrete moisture meter.
Always go with a moisture meter that’s designed to provide quick readings and will work with your specific materials. In most cases, you are going to want a drywall-friendly moisture meter at home.
This is why it’s important to choose the right tool before using it.
The display screen is often an underrated part of a moisture meter.
The average person will look at other features such as the indicators, settings, and build quality but not the display.
The right display should work well in all conditions (day or night) without becoming impossible to read. This is why the best moisture meters come equipped with proper backlit displays for maximum efficiency.
You should also focus on what the display is showing during the inspection. The right option will display various details such as moisture content percentages, temperature, and more.
Accuracy is an essential requirement when it’s time to buy a new moisture meter. There’s nothing worse than taking readings and realizing the numbers are off or all over the place.
While it’s difficult to find 100% accurate moisture meters, it’s important to purchase an option that’s among the best performance wise. Most modern meters offer a range when it comes to their readings. The idea is to offer a general assessment of the moisture content rather than a pinpoint accurate number.
This is done on purpose because the moisture content can vary from spot to spot.
Always go with a meter that’s detailed, fast, and offers consistent readings when used.
Let’s assume you are going to inspect the home’s drywall. The moisture meter must offer a detailed reading, which includes the temperature.
When an area of the home has a leak or high moisture content, the temperature will usually be lower than the surrounding area. When water evaporates, it cools down it’s immediate surroundings.
During home inspections, I sometimes use a infrared camera, and the areas with high moisture are always “blue” colored because the water cools down the spot. It is a lower temperature. So if the moisture meter has a temperature setting, this is just another piece of information that you can use to analyze the area.
What Are The Main Differences Between Moisture Meters?
The term “moisture meter” is universally used to describe different meters.
You may come across pinless or pin-style moisture meters on the open market. Each one differs in how it works and what it can do.
With the pinless moisture meter, you get a proper sensor pad, which is placed against the surface. This means it doesn’t break through or damage the top surface. These meters are also capable of measuring moisture content up to a certain distance (.25”-1.5”).
With pin-style moisture meters, there are two distinct metal pins. These pins penetrate through the top surface to take readings.
Let’s take a deeper look at how they differ from each other.
The sensor size between a pinless and pin-style moisture meter is a major distinguishing feature between the two tools. With pin meters, the idea is to use resistance as a way to see whether or not moisture is present behind the surface.
As soon as there’s a bit of resistance, the moisture meter takes a reading. It’s important to note this reading is only taken between the two metal pins. This is why it’s recommended to take multiple readings and get a clearer look at what’s going on behind the surface.
On the other hand, pinless moisture meters have a full-fledged sensor pad for taking readings. The sensor pad sits against the surface and emits electromagnetic signals to determine the moisture content percentage. In comparison to the pin-style design, this sensor pad can cover a larger area per reading.
The calibration process is different between the two styles.
With the pin-style moisture meter, there’s a certain amount of force required for it to work properly. This force means the pins have to be in excellent working condition. If not, the meter becomes impossible to calibrate and will give odd readings during the inspection.
For pinless moisture meters, general wear and tear isn’t as noticeable because of the large sensor pad. It’s easier to calibrate this type of meter.
Most professionals carry a separate calibration verification block to calibrate their tools. However, this isn’t necessary for homeowners.
Holes vs. No Holes
This is a significant difference between pin-style and pinless meters.
The pin-style meter creates holes in the surface to measure moisture content. On the other hand, pinless meters use a sensor pad, which doesn’t create holes. In most cases, the holes don’t make a visible difference, however, it’s something to keep in mind with cabinets.
Read Also: Does UV Light Kill Mold? (How Effective?)
Where to Buy the Best Moisture Meters For Home Inspections?
For world-class moisture meters, it’s best to visit Amazon and take a look at its wonderful selection of products.
Homeowners can easily read through the reviews, compare features, and make an educated decision.
To get started, visit Amazon right now!
What Are The Best Moisture Meters For Inspecting?
Here is my top pick for moisture meters...
My number one top pick for the best moisture meter is definitely made by Calculated Industries.
This affordable moisture meter features both pinned and pinless sensors so you can check a huge variety of materials for moisture.
Use the pinless to quickly check large wall areas for moisture, and use the pinned sensor to test different depths of soft materials like carpet.
- Affordable price
- Pinless and pinned sensors for great functionality
- Easy to use with thick grips
- Replaceable pins may break sometimes