Sometimes the most exciting part of a NASCAR race is what happens off the track.
When drivers pull into pit row to refresh their vehicles, a lot happens in a matter of seconds.
Tires are changed. Fuel tanks are topped off. Windshields are cleaned. And quick adjustments are made for aerodynamics.
All of that – and more – happens in under 15 seconds.
The reason a pit crew services a vehicle in less time than it takes to pour a glass of milk is largely in part to having tools and equipment finely tuned for immediate use. Without wrenches, air guns, and even duct tape being ready for action, there’s room for champion series-losing errors in something as simple as jacking the vehicle up.
In flood damage restoration, calibrated moisture meters make all the difference in efficiently and accurately completing an inspection. Like a faulty nozzle on an air compressor in pit row, an untuned moisture meter for a post-flood or water damage moisture survey leaves room for costly mistakes during an inspection.
A process meant to minimize inaccuracies in testing equipment, moisture meter calibration ensures the device is taking readings that are within an acceptable margin of error. Or in layman’s terms, calibration is routine maintenance to make sure the device is taking correct measurements.
Regardless of meter type, be it a pin-type digital moisture meter or a pinless moisture meter, calibrating the tool is a straightforward process.
A meter that measures a material’s actual moisture content, pin-type meter calibration takes only a few seconds.
Most digital pin-type meters come with a calibration device (aka – a moisture content standard (MCS)) designed specifically for the meter to measure the electrical resistance between its probes.
To check the calibration of your pin-type meter, touch its pins to the MCS’s contact points and wait a few seconds. The meter should display a reading for a wood moisture equivalency of +/- 18% (in Protimeter Instruments). Measurements outside that range indicate there are other issues affecting the device and throwing off its readings.
Like pin-type meter calibration, calibrating a pinless moisture meter takes minimal time and effort.
To calibrate the meter, place your hand over its contact plate immediately after turning it on. If your non-invasive meter comes with a calibration block, use that in place of your hand. Within a few seconds, the meter should measure 999. Next, remove your hand and take a second reading with the device’s contact plate only exposed to the air. You should see a reading of 0 or three dashes.
And like a pin-type meter, if measurements aren’t as described, your pinless moisture meter may be malfunctioning and need some attention.
Moisture Meter Technology Improvements for Streamlined Calibration
As if calibrating a professional moisture meter wasn’t simple enough, next-generation meters are taking things a step further.
Many new moisture meter models – such as the Protimeter MMS3 – have built-in calibration technology. With this new functionality, calibration doesn’t require more than pushing a button for an automatic check.
Though good routine maintenance for any moisture meter, calibrating a moisture meter isn’t complete without verifying the process worked.
The easiest way to make sure your meter is indeed calibrated is to test it by taking readings on materials with a known moisture content or that are unquestionably experiencing a moisture issue. Dry materials are best as there’s no possible way for moisture to impact post-calibration readings.
While it may seem tempting to calibrate your moisture meter(s) after each use, the fact is that’s unnecessary.
A professional moisture meter – both pin-type and non-invasive (pinless) moisture meters – rarely requires calibration – perhaps once every few years.
The best professional moisture meters are sophisticated instruments made to last a long time and stand up to the rigors of use. In other words, though designed to take sensitive measurements, a professional-grade moisture meter is made to last.
However, if something does seem off with your moisture meter’s readings – for instance, its measurements of a known dry material indicate moisture presence – there’s no harm in calibrating the device. In fact, that’s an easy first step in troubleshooting potential malfunctions when it seems your moisture meter is not working as it should.
Still, when it’s time to calibrate your meter, it’s best to do so before arriving at a job site. Time spent calibrating the meter and verifying its accuracy is time taken away from completing an inspection.
Outside of a moisture meter, the only other moisture measurement device that does require more frequent calibration is a hygrometer. Taking ambient moisture readings in a space, a hygrometer’s sensor degrades over time and requires replacement. As with verifying a moisture meter’s accuracy when measurements are questionable, hygrometer calibration is a starting point to check that the device’s readings are acceptable and accurate.
Pro Tip: For meters with removable sensors, we recommend replacing the sensor at least once a year. Meters used daily in harsh conditions should have removable sensors replaced at least every six months or even sooner.
Though an infrequent part of device maintenance, routine restoration moisture meter calibration ensures its sensors work as if they’re brand new.
With a calibrated restoration meter, you can rest easy knowing your moisture meter is always taking readings at the highest level possible.