A Complete Guide to Water Damage Inspections and Moisture Surveys with Moisture Meters and Moisture Mapping

A Complete Guide to Water Damage Inspections and Moisture Surveys with Moisture Meters and Moisture Mapping

A water damage inspection usually involves a thorough examination of the affected area by a professional repair technician or water damage restoration company to determine the extent and type of damage, and to develop the most effective plan for restoration.


What is a moisture survey?

A moisture survey is the process of assessing an area for the presence of moisture. The first step in a moisture survey is a visual inspection, in which the assessor looks for signs of moisture.

Moisture surveys are an important tool for determining the moisture content of building materials. By measuring the moisture content of the repair technician can determine a suitable course of action for restoration. Moisture meters are the most common type of moisture survey tool.

Start with Visual Inspection

A repair technician usually can't give a diagnosis without first seeing the issue first-hand. The same principle applies to moisture surveys from home inspections to water and flood damage restoration. A visual inspection is necessary to set the stage for the rest of the moisture survey and to provide invaluable information for remediation or repair efforts.

The first step to addressing a moisture issue is being able to identify signs that there may be a problem. To do this, you should enter any room or space that could potentially be affected by moisture and take a look around. Sometimes the evidence of moisture will be obvious, while other times you may need to look for more subtle signs that there is a problem. Regardless, a visual inspection should always be the first component of a moisture survey. By itself, a visual inspection is a means to get a sense of a space - or building - that's affected by moisture. It's also a rudimentary means to identify obvious areas of concern. A visual inspection is just one part of a broader effort to understand moisture presence within a space. Its results act as a guide for where the rest of a moisture investigation should start. A visual inspection, if done carefully, can save time in completing a full moisture survey.


Next step is to perform Moisture Mapping

The moisture mapping process helps communicate vital information with a property owner starting the recovery process, it is helpful to get easily digestible information about the source of moisture intrusion, the location of moisture, and the extent of damage.

A moisture map is a visual representation of the results of an inspection, detailing the location, extent, and likely point of entry of moisture in a space. It serves as a guide for repair crews and a documentation of damage for insurance claims.


Why is Moisture Mapping important in Water Damage Inspection and Flood Damage Restoration Process?

Moisture mapping is a non-destructive testing method that uses specialized equipment to detect, document, and often quantify the presence of absorbed moisture in building materials. A moisture map is the pictorial output of a moisture mapping procedure and is generally presented in the form of a colored floor plan showing the locations and extents of moisture within the building.

The moisture map displays the likely point of entry for moisture as well as the extent to which it is present within affected materials such as drywall, wood, flooring, baseboards, and ceilings.


How Moisture Maps help when Filing Insurance Claims?

Insurers typically need a lot of details about any flood or water damage that has happened. Moisture maps show where moisture has gone into a building, so insurers can tell how bad the damage is. If a property owner has a complete moisture map, it is more likely that the insurance company will approve their claim.


What tools are needed to prepare a Moisture Map?

To create an accurate and comprehensive moisture map, you need experience and the right tools. Fortunately, a moisture meter, a hygrometer, a visual camera (smartphone) and a thermal camera are standard equipment for flood damage restoration professionals.


Tool #1 Moisture Meter

There are many different types of moisture meters, each designed for a specific purpose. The most common type of moisture meter is the pin type moisture meter. Pin type moisture meters measure the moisture content of a material by inserting two metal pins into the material. The moisture content is then determined by the electrical resistance between the two pins.

Another type of moisture meter is the capacitive moisture meter (pinless moisture meters). Capacitive moisture meters measure the moisture content of a material by measuring the dielectric constant of the material. The dielectric constant is a measure of the ability of a material to store electrical energy.

In order to make a thorough assessment, you will need to use both types of moisture meters.:

  • For locating moisture you will use a pinless moisture meter (or non-invasive moisture meter)
  • For measuring actual moisture content in a material you will use a pin-type meter

At every point on a moisture map where moisture intrusion is observed, the corresponding moisture readings should be recorded.

Dual moisture meters like Protimeter MMS3 are all-in-one moisture meters that you can use. All-in-one moisture meters have the dual functionality as they combine the functionality of both meter types (pinless and pin type) into one device.

Sometimes it can be challenging to take moisture readings, or you may need specialized equipment. Additional functionality is available for your moisture meter device through meter-specific accessories. This allows you to complete a survey without unnecessary issues.

Some of the common moisture meter accessories to readily have are:

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


Tool #2 Hygrometer or more preferably Thermo-Hygrometer:

A hygrometer measures humidity (the amount of moisture in the air).

Hygrometers measure the following three components of humidity:

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

A Thermo-hygrometer like Protimeter Hygromaster2 is preferred to ordinary hygrometers because it not only takes humidity readings, but they also take temperature readings.


Tool #3 Visual Camera (Smartphone)

A regular camera in a smartphone can help you create a more detailed moisture map by providing additional information about the areas you surveyed. Photos can show the areas tested and any visible damage, which can help you create a more accurate moisture map.


Tool #4 Thermal Camera

A thermal camera is a camera that uses infrared radiation (heat) to create images. Thermal cameras detect differences in temperature in order to identify areas where water is present. Combined with readings from moisture meter and hygrometer this can help in finding hidden leaks or assessing the amount of water damage after a flood.

A thermal camera can be used to find areas that may be affected by moisture. These areas appear cooler on the camera. This information, along with readings from a hygrometer, can be used to determine if there is moisture present in a space.


Check out the all-in-one solution for Water Damage and Flood Damage Restoration Professionals from Protimeter.

Protimeter Restoration Kit

MMS3+ Probes + Heavy Duty Hammer Electrode

For use with:

  • Wood
  • Drywall
  • Building Materials
  • Concrete

Everything you need in one case. Also includes: QuickStick, Sensor and extension lead, calibration check device, logging software and cable, all-in-one foam insert hard carrying case.


For more information click here to explore other moisture meters and kits.

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