Moisture testing in walls

Non destructive moisture testing in walls

Moisture in drywall

Drywall or plasterboard is one of the most commonly used materials for walls and ceilings within a building structure. Moisture-related problems on drywall can cause structural damage and potential health problems. 

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

Blisters on wall

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 5, 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?

The Tramex pinless moisture detectors evaluate moisture conditions within various building materials by non destructively measuring the electrical impedance.

A low frequency electronic signal is transmitted into the material via the electrodes on the base of the Moisture Encounter 5. The strength of this signal varies in proportion to the amount of moisture in the material under test. 

The ME5 moisture meter, in drywall scale, determines the strength of the impedance current and converts this to a qualitative moisture content value, displaying it 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.


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How to be aware of false positive readings on drywall

Moisture Mapping

This process of pinless moisture testing a drywall structure is not only recommended for locating moisture problems, it can also be used to trace and map the scale of the moisture content issues, without breaking or puncturing the wall surface and structure. 

Moisture mapping can be used for:

  • Detecting the location with elevated moisture content.

  • Determining the moisture content levels in different areas.

  • Help locate the origin of the moisture issue, leak tracing or leak seeking.

  • Monitoring the drying process until acceptable dry levels have been achieved.

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

Moisture mapping

Moisture Map with the Tramex Meters App

Moisture test inspection

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

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