The Materials Checklist
Wood Moisture Readings—Seeing Through Inspectors’ Eyes
Despite the fact that inspection is among the most critical phases of building construction, stakeholders often fret about inspection results. To develop a layperson’s understanding of inspection is to look at the tools inspectors use to determine project quality, along with the basic list of necessities and requirements. A good moisture meter is essential.
Inspectors don’t just see things—they find things. They’re up on a ladder, armed with a flashlight, tape measure, level, screwdrivers and other common tools. But the hidden true colors of a project come out in the meter readings.
Electrical inspection cameras and meters, moisture meters for concrete, wood, sheetrock and more, infrared cameras, carbon monoxide meters, etc. It may seem like a hodgepodge of technical equipment, but each tool empowers building inspectors to log the crucial data that indicates a well-built structure, or a poorly-built structure.
Inspectors use these data-gathering tools to ultimately verify whether or not a structure meets local building codes that can vary state by state or region by region. These codes generally cover:
- Natural disasters
- Building usage (purpose)
- Energy consumption
- Air quality
- Allowable installation methods
- Specification of building materials
The International Code Council (ICC) has 14 sets of international codes that are used in the United States, including the International Building Code (IBC), the International Plumbing Code, the International Mechanical Code, and others.
If a building does not satisfy code requirements, builders are required to bring it into compliance.
Moisture Content Verification During Inspection
Compared to vast international code categories, citizens may rightly wonder: Why is something like moisture content so important? MC is crucial to the strength and performance of wood and other materials in a building structure because it actually changes the materials stability and behavior. And when a material’s performance fails, a structure can also fail.
Building inspectors carry moisture meters to ensure MC levels fall within acceptable parameters. Moisture-related problems annually cause millions of dollars in damage and are often the hardest to pinpoint when occurring in a completed structure.
The moisture meters used by inspectors are designed for a variety of materials, such as the Wagner Meters BI2200 Building Inspection Moisture Meter. These pinless meters measure the MC of various building materials such as synthetic stucco, plaster, drywall, linoleum, ceramic tile, insulation, shingles and concrete, to name a few. The BI2200 does not give precise MC percentages but is designed to provide a comparative, relative MC reading for each material inspected in order to identify potential problem areas in a building.
Pinless inspection meters provide the ability to “scan” large areas so that possible moisture intrusion can be quickly, easily identified without damaging any finished surfaces. Pin-style meters with longer pins penetrate the surfaces for a more focused, behind-the-scenes assessment of moisture conditions. When used for relative moisture assessment or measurement, moisture meters designed for inspectors provide the type of readings they seek.
When certification hangs in the balance, it’s up to inspectors to verify the integrity of the structure. A building inspection meter can provide a cost-effective and dependable way to verify strength and durability of materials. Excess MC in building materials will jeopardize the structure, which is why inspectors are armed to catch it.