When it comes to construction, determining the correct moisturecontent of wetted building materials and analyzing correspondinglocations, orientations and patterns is of imminent value toforensic engineers and building scientists. As many buildingdamages relate to insurance claims and construction defect/subrogation lawsuits, legal challenges to the accuracy of measuredmoisture content (MC) have arisen.

Moisture in the built environment

Various types of leaks may expose the built environment to arange of potential MC. A common roof or window leak causeslow-volume moisture intrusion that subjects the interior buildingcomponents to an intermittent source and corresponding elevated MC,while a sudden plumbing leak may result in near saturatedconditions.

Gypsum board drywall and wood building products are nearuniversal in modern construction. Extended moisture exposure tointerior building components causes fungal growth, deterioration,and eventual weakening and/or failure of the material.

A wide range of possible moisture contents within a buildingsubjected to a leak prompts the question as to the precision ofmoisture meters at a range of contents, substrates, and which meteris more effective under which specific circumstance.

Study materials and methods

An independent study was conducted to establish the levelof precision of common moisture meters used to quantify and measuremoisture content in building components. The study tested fourdifferent brand moisture meters in gypsum and wood substrates atnormal, high and saturated moisture contents. After specifiedperiods of wetting, four different brands of moisture meter wereutilized to determine the moisture content of specimens by manualpin type measurements. The results were compared againstlaboratory-obtained moisture content to assess the accuracy ofmeters in each substrate at a varying range of MC.

  • Meter E had a retail price of $320.
  • Meter G had a retail price of $35.
  • Meter S had a retail price of $599.
  • Meter T had a retail price of $342.

 Related: Alerting your clients to a major, and yetunderappreciated, risk

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