Ever hire an appliance repairman who seems to take more time than necessary? We all have.
Despite your appliance -- say, a dishwasher -- being ready for them, the contractor clearly wasn’t ready for the job at hand. Almost every few minutes, they’re heading back to their truck to get that tool they forgot. And, of course, the parts needed to get your dishwasher running are back at the shop. It’ll probably be a few more days before dish-washing duties are out of your hands again.
When showing up to conduct a home moisture survey, having a toolkit that’s at-the-ready saves both you and your client precious time and effort.
With an appropriately prepared toolkit -- a go-bag of sorts -- you’re able to hit the ground running and efficiently conduct a home inspection for moisture.
While no two homes are the same, the tools used for moisture inspections are. When heading out to conduct a moisture survey, make sure your toolkit has:
For a moisture inspection, this one’s a no-brainer.
Moisture meters come in all shapes and sizes, but there are two types: pin-type and pinless.
Pin-type meters measure a material’s actual moisture content. Using electrodes that are inserted just beneath the surface of the material being tested, this meter type gauges moisture content by measuring electrical resistance between its probes.
Pinless moisture meters are non-invasive and are used to confirm the presence of moisture. With radio frequencies, a pinless moisture meter determines the average moisture of a material within its depth of measurement. A pinless meter’s readings are meant to confirm the presence of moisture -- you’ll use a pin-type meter later to confirm the finding and measure actual moisture content.
Designed to measure water vapor, a home inspection hygrometer determines the relative humidity (RH) within a space.
Why does that matter during a home inspection?
If a room has high humidity, that’s a good indicator there may be a moisture issue. Similar to a pinless moisture meter, an accurate hygrometer’s readings help you confirm the presence of moisture within a space. You’ll need to dig deeper with a moisture meter to zero in on the extent and the source.
For the home inspector looking to lighten their toolkit, an all-in-one meter offers a solution.
Boasting the benefits and functionality of both pin-type and pinless moisture meters, as well as a hygrometer, all-in-one meters save toolbox space. With an all-in-one meter you’re able to gauge the full extent of moisture presence and content within a space using one tool.
While an all-in-one meter consolidates three pieces of damp testing equipment, it shouldn’t be the only moisture measuring tool in your toolbox. We recommend having at least two moisture meters on-hand for inspections. Having a spare moisture meter is invaluable should your primary meter malfunction or you want to confirm readings. Carrying an extra moisture meter is one of those cases of, “I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
Unless you have Superman’s x-ray vision or the go-ahead to rip a room apart, it’s impossible to see what’s on the other side of most building materials. That’s where a thermal imaging camera comes in handy.
A thermal imager is a valuable tool to find areas of potential moisture or condensation on walls, ceilings, and floors.
Providing an instant scan of a room, a thermal imager lets you see temperature differences within a material. A material affected by moisture usually displays cooler spots where moisture is present. Under the right conditions, the thermal images can lead you to a potential source of a moisture issue, which can be later verified using a moisture meter.
Thermal imaging isn’t a guarantee you’ll be able to find moisture. It is, however, another tool for quickly inspecting an area and planning where you’ll investigate more.
When conducting moisture inspections, pictures go a long way.
As a visual record of your inspection, photos provide multiple layers of verification. For the property owner, photos prove you did fully inspect a home and show the results -- something they’ll be glad to have should their insurance company come into the equation.
For the inspector, photos are a way to double-check your notes. If there’s a reading you’re
unsure of, you’ll have photographic backup of your findings. You won’t need to revisit a site to inspect again unless you truly missed something.
An investment in an inexpensive digital camera -- or simply using your cell phone to capture images -- saves plenty of headache later.
Just like carrying a spare moisture meter as a precaution against an equipment malfunction, having spare parts on-hand keeps an inspection moving along.
A few spares that should be in every home inspector’s toolkit include:
Home moisture surveys can take you to some … interesting places. For instance, you may find yourself in a dusty and dank crawlspace. Or an attic filled with blown-in insulation. Or even a dilapidated property that has plaster or brick that crumbles every time you touch it. And don’t forget, where there’s moisture, there’s probably mold.
Personal protective equipment ensures that no matter where a home inspection takes you, you’re not exposed to hazardous materials. At the very least, your PPE should include:
With an adequately stocked toolkit, you’ll show up for a home inspection ready to get to work.
There won’t be any need to choose between a moisture meter vs. hygrometer or even a pin vs. pinless moisture meter. Dead batteries or forgotten gloves will be a thing of the past -- everything you’ll need will be on-hand.
Find the Protimeter moisture meter and other inspection tools that are right for you: