Pinless Moisture Meters are a key tool for many professionals. They’re often used by restoration experts and building inspectors to detect moisture in different building materials. Compared to pin-type meters, pinless meters are known for being incredibly fast at detecting moisture in a large area, and for being non-destructive—meaning they don’t leave pinholes in the materials being tested.
However, there are a few tradeoffs. First, pinless meters require a flat surface to work. If the scanning plate cannot make solid contact, then the accuracy of the moisture measurement may be adversely affected. In addition, because pinless moisture meters have a depth of penetration limited to ¾, they cannot identify the source of moisture behind drywall or beneath a wood floor.
How can you use a pinless meter? Some uses include:
Speeding Up Moisture Detection in Water Damage Restoration
Restoration experts often use the fast scanning capability of a pinless meter to speed up the process of finding moisture pockets in restoration work. With the pinless meter, they can take readings, pick up the meter and move it to another spot, and take another reading in a few seconds, with each scan covering a larger area than what a pin-type meter can.
This is why many restoration specialists carry both a pin and pinless meter on the job, or use a 2-in-1 combination meter.
This same speed and ease of use also applies to other kinds of work where you might have to check for moisture in a large area, such as building inspection.
Verifying Flooring Acclimation Prior to Installation
Another use for a nondestructive pinless moisture meter is to check the acclimation of flooring wood to make sure it has reached equilibrium moisture content (EMC) prior to installation. The reason to use a pinless meter here is because they don’t have to puncture the wood flooring to check the wood’s %MC.
To test if wood flooring is at EMC, you can check the moisture content (%MC) of the wood flooring over the course of several days to see if the %MC value changes. When the moisture content of the wood stops changing, then the wood is likely in equilibrium with its environment.
This method of testing wood’s EMC is best done when the wood is being stored at the installation site, and the climate control system has been on for at least 72 hours at the settings that best represent the everyday use condition.
Quick Pass/Fail Checks in Drywall
Most pinless meters have a reference scale mode that allows users to test a wider variety of materials than just wood. While the reference scale does not provide a quantitative measurement of moisture content, it can be useful for getting a general indication of whether or not moisture is present in various materials.
Some users have employed the reference scale as a means of testing drywall to see if it’s moisture-compromised or not. Because of drywall’s extreme sensitivity to moisture, any significant indication of moisture is a failure. So, even on a reference scale, a pinless meter can easily be used to indicate if a piece of drywall is moisture-free.
However, because drywall is often thinner than the scanning depth of a pinless moisture meter, it is important to remember that you might get results for material behind a piece of drywall. So, if moisture is detected, further tests with a pin-type drywall moisture meter may be necessary.
Another unusual use of a pinless moisture meter is to test the top layer of concrete to verify if it’s ready for sealant to be applied, or to see if further testing with a thermo-hygrometer and in-situ probes is warranted.
While these readings would be considered qualitative ones under the ASTM 2659 guideline, they can prove to be a valuable preliminary check when testing newly-poured concrete that you’re not sure if it has sufficiently cured yet.
Have a favorite alternative use for pinless moisture meters? Please share it in the comments section below! Or, if you’re looking for more information about how to use moisture meters, contact Delmhorst today.