Moisture testing in walls

Non destructive moisture testing in walls

Is moisture acceptable in drywall?

Moisture-related problems on drywall can cause structural damage and potential health problems.

Drywall or plasterboard is one of the most commonly used materials for walls and ceilings within a building structure. Drywall is a porous material that absorbs moisture easily. Unfortunately, moisture has a negative effect on drywall as its strength and rigidity become compromised. Elevated moisture levels can encourage mold growth which may cause health issues. Thus, there should be as little moisture as possible in drywall. 

It is important that any moisture-related issues are dealt with as early as possible. Moisture is not always visible on the surface and can be hidden and trapped behind the drywall layer, within the building structure. 


How to measure moisture in drywall

damaged drywall

Preventing moisture damage on walls

By the time moisture or mold is visible, structural damage has already occurred. This can show up as blistering, stains or discolouration.

Thankfully there is a way of detecting this unseen moisture before it becomes noticable and starts deteriorating the building structure. A non-destructive or pinless wall moisture meter, such as the Tramex Moisture Encounter ME5, detects elevated moisture levels within a wall structure without damaging or breaking the surface.

The ME5 moisture meter is the new and improved version of the well-established and trusted Moisture Encounter Plus - MEP, which has been a favourite amongst moisture professionals for many years. 

How does a pinless moisture detector work on drywall?

A pinless moisture detector for drywall evaluates the moisture conditions within the building material using a non-destructive method based on measuring electrical impedance.

To evaluate moisture levels, a low-frequency electronic signal is transmitted into the material through the electrodes located on the base of the moisture detector, such as the Moisture Encounter ME5. The strength of this signal varies in proportion to the moisture present in the material being tested.

The ME5 moisture meter, calibrated for drywall, measures the strength of the impedance current and converts it into a qualitative moisture content value, displayed on a clear analog dial.

how does a moisture meter work

The Moisture Encounter Evolution

The Moisture Encounter 5 offers similar scales to the Moisture Encounter Plus and features new benefits such as Dual Depth and Bluetooth connectivity to the Tramex Meters App. 

  • Dual depth measurements can help determine where moisture is located in a wall structure. By comparing moisture readings of shallow and core depth, the influence of the substrate can be eliminated when testing coverings.
  • The Tramex Meters App offers the ability to save readings, create visual moisture maps of the area under test and share reports.


How to use the Moisture Encounter 5

ME5 in use

How to use a moisture meter on drywall

As the Moisture Encounter 5, ME5, provides qualitative, comparative reading results, it is necessary to first take a moisture reading on a part of the wall that is known to be dry. This reading result can then be used as a reference for ‘acceptably dry’. 

  • Switch the meter on and select the drywall scale.
  • Press the moisture detector against the wall in a known dry area and take note to use this reading as a reference for further testing. Make sure that both electrodes fully connect to the surface under test.
  • Any higher moisture readings indicate a possible moisture related issue that needs further investigation. 
  • Taking multiple readings along the wall exterior with a pinless moisture meter, such as the ME5, does not damage the wall surface and gives a good indication of the moisture levels hidden behind the surface material. 
  • The Dual depth feature of the ME5 can help localize the depth of the moisture issue from the surface material. For example if the deep reading, up to 30mm (1¼"),  shows that there are elevated moisture levels and the shallow reading, up to 10mm (⅜”),  does not show elevated moisture issues, it can indicate that the moisture problem is located further into the building structure and has not reached the surface material.
  • With the Tramex Meters App you can view readings and create a visual moisture map of your test area, showing the different moisture values in the particular locations under test. Readings can be saved and made into reports for sharing with others.


Buy Now

How to be aware of false positive readings on drywall

How to detect moisture behind walls?

Moisture within and behind walls can be detected with a pinless moisture meter. A non-destructive moisture meter can accurately locate and measure elevated moisture levels without the need to break the wall’s surface material. 

A dual depth moisture meter, such as the ME5, allows the user to compare moisture levels within and behind a wall covering. The shallow-depth readings, up to 10mm (⅜”),  and deep-depth readings, up to 30mm (1¼"), can be used to compare surface moisture and core moisture and eliminate the influence of the substrate when testing coverings. Further in-situ investigation can then be done when necessary with insulated pins and RH probes for moisture measurement at depth. 

In addition to evaluating moisture, pinless moisture testing is also suitable for tracing and mapping the extent of a moisture issue within a wall structure, without puncturing the exterior surface. The scale of a moisture problem can be visualized with the use of moisture maps.

Moisture mapping can:

  • Detect locations within the wall with elevated moisture content.
  • Determine the moisture content levels in different areas of the wall.
  • Help locate the origin of the moisture issue by tracing the leak.
  • Monitor the drying process until acceptable dry levels have been achieved.

Moisture mapping allows for the collection of data from the point of diagnosis, throughout the mitigation process up until the conclusion of the restoration process.

Moisture mapping

Creating a moisture map with the Tramex App

Moisture test inspection

The Tramex Water damage restoration kits provide the necessary tools to detect elevated moisture levels in and behind walls & ceilings and to conduct further inspection if required.

Tramex Meters has long standing experience in developing accurate moisture detection equipment for moisture related problems within the building structure. 

Click for more information on: