Finding Moisture Sources During Winter Water Damage Restoration

Posted by Tom Laurenzi on Dec 17, 2017 8:00:00 AM

While the winter season might be a time of holiday cheer, it can also be a time of increased risks for water damage. The combination of low temperatures and precipitation can cause significant damage to structures that aren’t sufficiently prepared to handle wintertime weather patterns.

For example, extremely low temperatures can cause water in an unprotected pipe to freeze. The expanding ice causes a pressure buildup—which can burst the pipe. Snow left on a rooftop can build up over the course of a season, causing damage through excessive weight and melting into the cracks as temperatures warm.

To make winter water damage restoration efforts as quick and efficient as possible, it’s important to find moisture sources such as burst pipes, ruptured roofs, leaky foundations, and the like. The sooner the cause of the moisture intrusion can be found and remediated, the sooner the restoration work can be completed.

One way that water damage restoration experts can quickly identify moisture intrusion sources in a structure is to use a moisture meter.

About Restoration Moisture Meters

meter for restoration.pngThere are two kinds of moisture meters used for restoration work: pin-type meters and pinless meters.

Pin meters use electrodes to penetrate building materials. An electrical current is passed through the material between the pins, and the resistance to the current is used to calculate the moisture content of the material.

Pinless meters use electromagnetic frequencies to scan building materials. Distortions in the wave are used to calculate the moisture content of the material in the scanning area.

Pin meters tend to be more precise, but slower to use, while pinless meters are faster to use, but require a flat surface at least as large as the scanning plate to work.

Using Moisture Meters to Find Moisture Sources in Restoration Work

To quickly identify moisture intrusion sources in a structure, restoration specialists often use both pin and pinless meters (or 2-in-1 devices with the features of both). The pinless meter is used to quickly establish if water is present in building materials, while the pin-type meter is used to find the depth of the moisture pocket and precise location of the outside edge of moisture pockets.

By tracing the outside edges of moisture pockets in building materials, restoration experts can make finding the source of moisture intrusion easier—or at least narrow the source down to a specific area.

Some specific areas to check for moisture intrusion sources include:

  • Attic/Rooftop Areas. Since heavy snow buildup often causes damage to the roof, this is a major area of concern for moisture checks. Pinless meters can be used to quickly check support beams and the underside of the roof. This can help quickly prove or disprove the roof as the source of water intrusion in the structure. If a support beam does have excess moisture, then a pin-type meter can be used to help pinpoint the source of the moisture intrusion.
  • Burst Pipes. For many burst pipes, the sheer amount of water involved makes find the damaged areas easy to spot. However, the origin point of the moisture intrusion may be located far away from the visible damage. Using a moisture meter to track the moisture to its source can help precisely locate the placement of the burst pipe so it can be repaired or replaced as necessary.
  • Insulation Behind Walls. When moisture reaches the insulation in a structure, the damage it causes isn’t always immediately visible to the naked eye. Testing insulation with an extended-length probe is crucial for finding moisture pockets in insulation that would otherwise be hidden from view.
  • Flooring and Foundations. Moisture intrusion sources in flooring and foundations can be especially difficult to find. However, moisture meters can help identify moisture-compromised flooring so it can be removed as needed for dry-out operations.

To check each of these areas may require some specialized tools, such as extended-length probes for checking deep into insulation, or flat probes to get under the trim of a wall to check for moisture behind it.

What to Look for in a Winter Water Damage Restoration Meter

When choosing a moisture meter to help you with your water damage restoration/remediation work, some things to consider include:

  • Versatility of the Meter. Odds are that you’re going to be checking for moisture intrusion sources in a variety of building materials that are all different shapes and sizes. Here, having a versatile meter that has both pin and pinless operating modes, and both wood and reference (or other) reading modes can make it easier to quickly check for moisture at all of the jobsites you work. Compatibility with alternative probe types is also a plus, as it gives a meter even greater utility.
  • Display Type. Are readings put on an analog or a digital display? Some people prefer analog displays that use a needle, but digital displays are more precise and easy to read for many.
  • Calibration Checks. Over time, any moisture meter may lose accuracy. Built-in calibration checks let you verify the accuracy of the meter with the push of a button.
  • Data Storage and Export. Some meters can record the moisture measurements they take with a date and time stamp so you can export it to a computer later. This is very handy for documenting your work in case a dispute occurs.

Need more information about how to find and use a moisture meter for winter water damage restoration? Contact Delmhorst or download our free guide to Measuring Moisture in Restoration today!

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Topics: winter restoration Water Damage