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Moisture meter use


Chris Bernhardt
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For those inspectors whose personal protocol basically has them performing a moisture analisis at all windows at points inside and out, have you ever discovered problems that you could not have identified via just a visual inspection?

And if yes then how often does that occur that you find moisture where there is otherwise absolutely no visual clue or defect that would indicate the possibility of a problem?

Chris, Oregon

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Yes, although upon further review, I think you can tell around windows by looking @ the drainage paths, drip caps, or other flashings.

If there's windows that aren't protected w/good installation practice, i.e., drip caps, draining sills, channels & flashing, or protected by large eave overhangs, there's probably been water in there somewhere.

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Both Yung and I have often found moisture issues using our Protimeter where there were no visual clues evident.

In every instance, I'm fully confident that these were issues that would have been latent at the time of the inspection, but the problem arises when they're discovered later on. One might not always be able to show that it was a latent issue.

I've never bothered to track them all, in order to see how many were false alarms caused by an anomaly, but I've never gotten an angry phone call from a client with that, "You told me there'd be moisture there, but there wasn't and I ended up paying for repairs that are your fault!" phone calls. So, I'm guessing that we were right virtually all of the time. Either that, or we're just so darned incredibly likeable that folks couldn't bear to call us up and yell at us for being dummies (not likely).

ONE TEAM - 0NE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Hi Chris,

Ten years ago, I would have said no. However, sophisticated moisture meters have been around for at least a decade now and their use has, pretty-much, become the standard of care for the business. Despite all of the protestations that home inspections are strictly visual, I think if an inspector is not using a moisture meter today that the inspector is liable to one-day experience the unpleasant reality of someone suing them for negligence. Sure, the person suing might lose, but the inspector will be paying through the nose to prove that liability should not accrue. Why put oneself through that when a decent combination scan and pin moisture meter can be purchased for just a few hundred dollars? Then, If your scans or probes don't find any moisture, you can really show that you did everything that anyone would reasonably have expected you to do in order to detect moisture.

On another thread questioning the use of IR you saw my cussing/banghead response. That's because I know that this year, next year, and maybe even the year after that, I'll still be able to get away without purchasing an IR camera. However, as more and more inspectors purchase them and begin using them, their use will gradually become part of the standard of care for the profession. Years from now, if I'm not using one, and am still relying on my moisture meter, which has a scan depth of about an inch-and-a-half, I'm going to be seen as the one behind the times and it might be me facing that unpleasant reality.

Times and technology are changing in this business. We have to keep up if we want to keep our companies reputable and solvent.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Good questions.

There's lots of times when I've pulled out the moisture meter & stabbed bsmt. baseboard, or carpet tack strip around the perimeter to see if it's wet. I can't honestly say how many times I've found water, but it was several.

Same thing w/drywall ceilings, and definitely ceilings under suspect mortar bed shower pans.

Windows are kind of tricky, but I'd stick w/what I said previously. I think you can categorize windows into either high or low risk of water entrance based on the criteria I noted, and test them accordingly.

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