For every profession, there’s always that one tool or piece of equipment that makes all the difference.
A programmer – a powerful computer.
A plumber – a strong wrench.
A barber – sharp set of shears.
For the flood damage restoration professional, a reliable moisture meter is a must. Without one, completing a post-flood or water damage survey that accurately assesses moisture presence is almost impossible.
To that end, buying a restoration moisture meter shouldn’t be left to chance with what’s available. Rather, the purchase should be carefully researched to make an investment in a meter that always performs as it should and streamlines inspections.
Unsuccessful and inaccurate moisture inspections start with faulty or inadequate equipment. Your moisture meter should be the last tool you need to worry about.
Purchasing a restoration and water damage moisture meter should be considered an investment. Cheap moisture meters should be out of the question. Though a cost-effective option that doesn’t put a large dent in an equipment budget immediately, cheap meters usually cost more in the long run. Not only are they less durable, but they also aren’t as accurate or dependable, often requiring replacement.
Professional moisture meters are made to stand up to the rigors of decades of moisture inspections. What’s more, they’re designed to be consistently accurate and take repeatable readings.
From a functionality standpoint, key elements to look for in a restoration moisture meter include:
Used during an initial part of a restoration moisture survey, pinless – or non-invasive – readings allow a user to locate where moisture is likely present. Taken at surface level, pinless measurements detect dampness by assessing the average moisture of a material within a depth of measurement.
Non-penetrating moisture meter measurements do not measure moisture content. Rather, they help determine where moisture location – even if it’s under flooring or behind tile. Pinless readings should be further investigated with pin-mode measurements.
Pin-mode readings represent actual moisture content within the material being tested.
Using electrodes and measuring the electrical resistance between them, pin-mode readings are taken by direct contact with a material. As water is conductive, the less resistance measured, the higher a material’s moisture content.
Pin mode readings gauge moisture content by treating every material as if it were wood. Using wood as the baseline for measurements, readings across all material types are taken on a consistent scale and representative of actual moisture presence.
Further Reading: Why is wood the barometer for pin-mode readings? Check out our article, WME/Wood Moisture Equivalent: A Home Inspector’s Guide.
Bonus Further Reading: Though closely related, WME should be confused with Equilibrium Moisture Content. Learn about the difference in our article, Moisture Meter Readings: Equilibrium Moisture Content.
While capturing readings at the source of and around the point of moisture intrusion is critical to a thorough inspection, understanding environmental conditions of a space is important, too. Hygrometer functionality allows for the assessment of ambient conditions within a space.
To be sure, a hygrometer’s measurements do not tell actual moisture content of a material, nor do they pinpoint moisture’s location. Hygrometer readings provide a broad indication of moisture presence in a space and whether additional investigation is necessary.
A meter’s hygrometer functionality should give psychometric readings, such as:
Pro Tip: Moisture meters with hygrometer capabilities should have replaceable sensors. The ability to swap out sensors eliminates the need to send the device back to the manufacturer for calibration.
Temperature readings reveal a lot in a restoration moisture survey.
Like a thermal imaging camera – which provides a visual representation of temperature differences – a surface-level temperature sensor helps guide inspectors to problem areas.
Generally speaking, surfaces with a lower temperature than the area around them may be experiencing a moisture issue, as excessive dampness cools materials. A visual cue, localized condensation is an indicator of a temperature difference, and should be investigated further.
Meters with a surface temperature sensor should have an element of customization for readings and allow a user to set sensitivity.
With a surface temperature sensor, a moisture meter has another means of assessing environmental conditions.
The moisture meters of today are a far cry from those made decades ago. Like other devices, moisture meters are being made “smart” with integrated technology that works with a user. One of the latest innovations is Bluetooth integration.
New moisture meter models hitting the market use this technology to instantly record and save readings to an app. Those measurements are easily accessible for generating final inspection reports.
While the old-fashioned way of recording meter readings (pen and paper) will always have a place in inspections, there’s nothing wrong with capturing measurements a second time with no additional effort.
Check out our video of the MMS3, which features Bluetooth technology:
While a professional restoration moisture meter’s functionality matters most, there are other elements to consider before opening your wallet and investing in a device you’ll likely have in your toolkit for years to come.
One of the best resources when evaluating your next moisture meter is distributors – they have their finger on the pulse of what’s considered the best moisture meter for restoration.
During your conversation, ask about:
A restoration moisture meter is worth its weight in gold. Designed for functionality, accuracy, and repeatability, the device is one of the most important tools for any flood damage restoration professional.
By doing research on functionality and overall user experience before you buy, you’ll ensure purchasing the best professional moisture meter possible.
Check out our Restoration Kit – it comes complete with an MMS3 and everything else you’ll need for a moisture survey!