Moisture Mapping: A Overview for Flood Damage Restoration

Moisture mapping

In a perfect world, a property owner would never have to contend with a flood or water damage event. 

In a slightly less perfect world, a flood and water damage event would be practically a non-event, contained only to a small area and causing minimal damage. 

Unfortunately, that’s not reality. Flood and water damage events usually have a big impact on a building. 

A report by iPropertyManagement found that 14,000 people in the U.S. deal with a flood or water damage event each day. What’s more, remediation costs totaled more than $20 billion in 2021. 

For a property owner starting the recovery process, nothing is more helpful than rock-solid and easily digestible information – specifically about the:

  • Source of moisture intrusion 
  • Location(s) of moisture
  • Extent of damage

Moisture mapping is both a tangible report and reporting method produced by a flood damage restoration professional that provides those important answers. 

 

What is Moisture Mapping & Why Does it Matter in Flood Damage Restoration?

A visual representation of an inspection’s results, a moisture map in restoration pinpoints moisture’s location in a space and provides detailed information. 

In addition to corresponding moisture measurements, a map also displays moisture’s likely point of entry as well as the extent of moisture present within affected materials, such as:

  • Drywall
  • Wood
  • Flooring
  • Baseboards
  • Ceilings

Moisture maps serve multiple purposes. 

After an inspection is complete, the map is a guide of sorts for restoration and repair work to begin, showing crews the places that need attention. As not all moisture issues are immediately apparent, a map – complete with measurements – helps restoration workers make sure they address all affected areas.

Once remediation is complete, the map comes in handy again for a post-restoration inspection to double-check work. 

For the property owner, a moisture map is worth its weight in gold when filing an insurance claim

After a flood or water damage event, insurers want as much information as possible about the incident and its impact. Moisture mapping forms provide a complete overview of moisture intrusion, leaving little question about the severity of the damage. A thorough moisture map can be the difference between a property owner getting a claim approved or denied.

A moisture map is also a vehicle for savings. Those completing restoration work won’t waste time and effort drying out or repairing areas that don’t need it.

The Tools Needed for an Accurate Moisture Map

Creating a moisture map that is accurate and comprehensive not only requires the wisdom of experience but also having the right tools on hand. Fortunately for the flood damage restoration professional, many of those tools are standard equipment: 

  1. Moisture meter(s)
  2. Moisture meter accessories
  3. Hygrometer
  4. Visual camera/ smartphone 
  5. Thermal camera 
  6. Software

 

1. Moisture Meter(s)

Moisture meters give the necessary readings that prove how bad moisture intrusion is in a space or building. You’ll need both types of moisture meters to make an adequate assessment:

  1. A pinless moisture meter (or non-invasive moisture meter) for locating moisture 
  2. A pin-type meter for measuring actual moisture content in a material

Pro Tip: Dual moisture meters and all-in-one moisture meters lighten your load, as they combine the functionality of both meter types into one device. 

At each point on a moisture map where moisture intrusion is noted, moisture measurements should be noted. 

2. Moisture Meter Accessories  

Sometimes taking moisture readings is challenging or requires specialized equipment. 

Meter-specific accessories bring additional functionality to the moisture testing devising, allowing an inspector to complete a survey without unnecessary issues. 

Moisture meter accessories worth having in your toolbox include: 

  • Extension probes
  • Baseboard probes
  • Deep wall probes 
  • Hammer electrodes

 

3. Hygrometer

A hygrometer provides a general assessment of moisture presence via the ambient conditions in a space. More specifically, it takes several types of measurements, which are indicators of a moisture issue that requires more investigation, such as:

  1. Relative humidity – the percentage of water vapor content in the air relative to a specific temperature
  2. Specific humidity – the ratio of water vapor mass to the total mass of air. Temperature is not a factor
  3. Grains-per-pound – the weight of moisture in the air

*Thermo-hygrometers offer increased functionality as they also take temperature readings. 

Included in a moisture map, hygrometer readings are complementary to those taken by moisture meters.

4. Camera/Smartphone

Though neither measures moisture, both a camera and smartphone help boost your ability to create a moisture map and provide as much detail about your survey. Added to a moisture map rendering, photos show the areas tested and any visually apparent damage. 

 

5. Thermal Camera 

Another window for gauging moisture intrusion, a thermal camera shows what can’t always be seen. 

Providing a visual representation of surface temperature differences, thermal imaging cameras display potential areas affected by moisture. Materials impacted by moisture usually appear cooler (blue on a thermal camera’s display). Like readings taken by a hygrometer, a thermal camera’s findings provide clues about moisture presence within a space and should be investigated further. 

Have You Seen our Thermal Survey Kit?

It comes with our SurveyMaster and SEEK Thermal’s Shot Pro Thermal Camera. Check it out here: 

View the Thermal Survey Kit

6. Software

Creating a moisture map doesn't mean needing to get out a ruler, a few pens, and a ream of paper or receiving exhaustive moisture map training. Now, there’s sophisticated software available that lets an inspector easily create a map and add any pertinent information to it. 

The #1 Tool for Moisture Mapping

This one is simple. Without a moisture meter, it’s impossible to properly assess moisture intrusion after a flood or water damage event.

But not just any moisture meter will do. For the flood damage restoration professional conducting an inspection, the #1 tool that delivers the results needed for an accurate and thorough moisture map is a professional moisture meter

A step up from the cheap meters found in a big box retailer’s tool section, professional moisture meters are made to consistently deliver precise results without worry

In addition to enhancing accuracy, a professional moisture meter brings reliability, repeatability, and functionality to any inspection. In essence, the meter works with you, allowing for little interruption to the survey.

Moisture Mapping for Complete Inspections 

Odds are if someone owns a property, they will deal with a flood or water damage event to some degree. 

While both event types are time-consuming and expensive scenarios to recover from, a moisture map that’s detailed and data-heavy helps the remediation process move forward. With a provided moisture map, your clients can get back to normal life a little sooner. 

Streamline Flood Damage Restoration Inspections

Our Restoration Kit is your go bag for post-flood and -water damage inspections.

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