South-east Australia is a great place to live – there’s no arguing with that. But living in a region so frequently visited by rain, storms and floods comes with its challenges, particularly for our homes. Water can sneak in through the smallest cracks and spread behind the walls, getting harder and more expensive to repair the longer it goes unchecked. That’s why moisture meter reading tests are part of every professional building inspection.
So what are moisture meters, how do we use them, and what happens if we don’t?
Moisture meter tests
A moisture meter is a piece of equipment used in a range of industries to detect the moisture content of various materials, like walls and floors. Building and pest inspectors rely on them to identify areas where water is leaking and building up that are often not visible to the naked or untrained eye. Where high moisture readings are detected, an inspector investigates the issue to find the source, assess the damage, and recommend the repairs required to stop it from happening again.
There are three types of moisture meters: Pin-type, pinless and all-in-one. Pin-type moisture meters have pins that penetrate the material being tested and use the principle of electrical resistance to gain an accurate moisture content reading. Pinless, or non-destructive meters, use the principle of electrical impedance instead. But the best moisture meter for home inspectors is the all-in-one, which uses both scientific principles to gain moisture content percentage readings.
How we use moisture meters in building inspections
With a particular focus on wet areas of the building – bathrooms, kitchen, laundry – building inspectors use moisture meters to find areas where the reading is higher than an acceptable level for the material. We then diagnose the issue by looking at the structural issues that caused it.
In bathrooms, for example, the issue often comes from poor design in the first place. When floors aren’t sloped towards a drain, water pools in the room and causes moud.
Leaky roofs are often caused by badly installed air conditioners or skylights which weren’t sealed properly, and can be exacerbated by blocked gutters or drainage pipes.
High moisture readings in walls can indicate the use of inappropriate materials for wet areas, such as chipboard or pine in bathrooms or laundries. These design flaws lead to persistent problems with fungal rot and mould, so are often expensive to correct. Prolonged moisture in timber can also attract pests and the further damage they inflict.
Left unchecked, water damage devalues your home and becomes very expensive to repair. Whether it’s causing mould, devaluation or serious structural issues, the best time to deal with moisture issues is ASAP.
So, how can you protect your home from moisture issues? The absolute best way to do it is to ensure there are no leakage and moisture issues from the start with a professional building and pest inspection. You’ll know about current and potential future issues and exactly how to deal with them with the help of a professional (and their moisture meter!). Get in touch to arrange one with one of our friendly home inspectors today!