Cleaning & Restoration Tools and Gadgets / Restoration

Moisture Meters: Continuing to Change for the Better

This article will focus on change in products for detecting and tracking moisture

November 4, 2013

The focus of this issue is innovation. We tend to associate change with innovation and progress. But, to paraphrase Ellen Glasgow, not all change is growth, just as all movement is not forward. There has been tremendous change in water damage restoration in the three-plus decades I have been involved in the industry. This article will focus on change in products for detecting and tracking moisture. I think the changes discussed here will prove to be innovations that will move the industry forward in this regard.

We’ll begin with Chris Ranwell, Global Product Manager for GE Measurement & Control Advanced Sensors, and his thoughts on the trends of meters for our industry:

  • Hygrometers: “Fast response and reliable – ability to calculate dew point, GPP and enthalpy. Non-contact IR surface temperature measurement with calculation for surface condensation (alerting to possible secondary damage).”
  • Design improvements: “More durable, sleeker and more user-friendly design is a growing trend in instrumentation.”
  • Data logging: “When users take measurements or capture data, they will be able to archive and access their information more easily.”
  • Fewer tools with more capabilities: “As our technologies become unified, this will enable a rich consumer experience providing the ability to use various types of devices within one instrument.”

Tom Rochenski, who represents the Flir and Extech line of moisture meters, describes the direction for improvement in those meters: “The key to a good moisture meter/hygrometer is speed and accuracy. I always look for a hygrometer/moisture meter that is fast and accurate. Restoration professionals need results in minutes, not hours. Also accurate repeatable readings on invasive and non-invasive readings are vital to assessing the amount of moisture in building materials. Using the dry standard and setting a base line for moisture levels is extremely important.”  

Tips to Take Advantage of Innovation

Innovations in heat-based drying systems and other methods of heating play an ever increasing role in assuring rapid and complete structural drying. Paul Laurenzi of Delmhorst recognizes that when he discusses the need to adjust readings for temperature. Laurenzi also includes some other important points to get the most from your moisture meter:

“Interpreting moisture meter scales can be a challenge. Not only do different materials require different scales, but within a particular material you may still have to make adjustments to your readings based on certain variables. Obtaining a precise reading for a particular wood product may require you to make a conversion using a species correction table or to use a meter that makes the conversion for you.

“The temperature of wood can impact moisture meter readings. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get an accurate reading when wood is hotter or colder than the meter assumes, but may mean that you have to use a table to convert the reading into an accurate moisture measurement. If ambient temperatures are below 50°F or above 90°F, variations in the readings will be significant, measure the temperature of the wood itself to determine any needed adjustment.” 

When using the reference scale to test materials such as brick, concrete block and other non-wood building materials, be sure that you understand exactly what those readings mean. The reference scale standing alone will only indicate high or low moisture content, and readings from different meters cannot be directly compared.

With most moisture meters, drywall is measured using the reference scale and comparisons to dry materials. However, Delmhorst offers several moisture meters that are calibrated specifically for drywall. 

Some meters may show readings that drift downward after a few seconds. For best results, make sure that you note your reading within 2-3 seconds.

Remote Monitoring

Many of the best innovations save time, make our life easier or make our businesses more profitable. Meters that remotely monitor job conditions and control your equipment provide all those benefits.

“In my classes the adjusters are wanting more and more data because they want that documentation and verification that their claim is done and back to pre-loss condition and they want that data as fast as possible,” says John Otero, who provides continuing education classes for the insurance industry,

Today, more remote technology is entering the field, whereby users no longer have to connect to Ethernet, get a separate modem or connect to Wi-Fi. SIM cards, similar to those on your cell phone, are used to communicate and collect data at any time. Plus, you can even turn on or off your equipment from your phone or other device and get an e-mail or text message when you lose power on the job or when that customer decides to turn off the equipment. You can also download and supply your adjuster or client real-time readings like air temperature, surface temperature, moisture content, GPP and surface temperature.  

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