Home is where your heart is. But a comfortable home is where humidity levels range between 30-50%. Once moisture drops below the recommended value, both your health and furniture suffer. Static electricity, dry hair and skin, sensitivity to respiratory problems become more common. Besides being favorable for germs to thrive, low humidity impacts your home too. Wood furniture or floor can crack, paint tends to chip. Electronics are also exposed to damage risks because of static electricity. Things don’t get any brighter when humidity levels rise either. Mold or mildew, swollen wood, wall stains and allergies or asthma appear on the horizon. More than 60% can even impact the resistance structure of your house.
So, how can a homeowner know when humidity reaches alarming levels? The answer is pretty simple – using a moisture meter. Portable, easy to use and mostly budget-friendly, these devices come in handy. They do not help you monitor only the level of moisture existing in the air you breathe at home. They reflect the hidden threats hiding in the masonry, walls or wood structures.
It’s time to take some measures against the discomfort caused by irregular humidity. Start with a device that helps you assess better how precarious things are in your house. Think about it as the ace up your sleeve. Before you decide on larger investments, like dehumidifiers, consider getting a moisture meter. Knowing what you are facing exactly allows you to get more suitable measures.
All you want to know about moisture meters is what we focus on today. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits, main characteristics to look for and some tips. Plus, we reveal our selection of five moisture meters that caught our attention.
Best Moisture Meters: Quick picks
|General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter||pin||Wood 5%-50%|
|1 year||great reviews for firewood readings; good performance in a budget-friendly device|
|Wood Moisture Meter||pin||Wood 6%-60%|
Building materials 0.2%-2.9%
|2 year||wide display for easy reading, highly praised for its precision on wood (8 calibration scales)|
|Extech MO55 – Combination Pin/Pinless Moisture Meter||pin/pinless||PIN|
Wood moisture 5-50%
Other materials 1.5%-33%
|1 year||dual moisture measuring technology in one device; high accuracy for a variety of materials|
|Pinless Wood Moisture Meter||pinless||Wood 4% - 80%||1 year||non-invasive measuring (HF electromagnetic waves technology),
temperature compensation feature&
|SAM-PRO Dual Moisture Meter||pin||5%-50%||lifetime||lifetime warranty; moisture & temperature reading for more than 100 materials|
Sources Of Humidity In Your Home
In order to control the level of humidity in your house, you need to start by knowing where it comes from. There are several main sources of moisture you can get a hold of right away.
First on the list are rooms or areas where ventilation is poor. From attic to basement, trapped humid air can be very damaging. Also, bathrooms, kitchens and closets may contain damp air, favorable for mildew growth. Be careful with your fireplace, if it’s unused and air doesn’t circulate within. This allows water droplets to infiltrate in the masonry and walls. Mold can grow inside it without you noticing it.
Next, uninsulated surfaces that also make way for condensation. As the warm, humid indoor air reaches a cold surface, moisture turns into water droplets. Responsible for the humid air are factors like cooking or having wet clothes to dry inside. Add washing dishes, bathing or unvented heating appliances. You may start to understand how they are all connected. If your home walls or windows are not insulated, in winter, they are the cold surfaces we were talking about. In summer, condensation finds its way on the cold water pipes, for example. The issue is not a small cold window, it’s more about the large surfaces that communicate with the outside.
Crawl spaces and leaking pipes are one more worrying aspect. If you live in a region with heavy rain, there is a risk that rain seeps into the foundation. If gutters are often stuck or your crawl space is not insulated, look out for imminent damage. Excess water can weaken the resistance structure. Not to mention that it creates conditions for airborne particles to flourish.
Benefits Of Using A Moisture Meter
Before you make the decision of buying a moisture meter, you need some good reasons to convince you. Among the most relevant details that we can provide you with are some of the benefits such a device comes with.
- Efficient wood burning
If you have a traditional chimney and your main source of heating is wood burning, you know wet wood is not good. It can lead to heavy soot deposits that turn into fire hazards. Not to mention, the wood’s heat output is drastically reduced when it’s damp.
- Safe renovations
When you are building or reconditioning some area of your house, you know time is precious. The level of moisture in the air dictates if you can advance to the next step or not. From concrete to wood, construction materials need specific levels of humidity. For the best results and to avoid wasting time or resources, you can track it.
- Better health
Unbalanced levels of humidity can impact your health and lead to unwanted problems. While high humidity may be easier to spot even without a meter, lower levels can be a threat hidden in the dark. You can adjust it using various methods. But a moisture meter is the best tool you can use to know if you are really facing a problem or not.
- Budget-friendly investment
Before you jump to conclusions and spend money on (de)humidifiers, you have to be sure. A moisture meter gives you an accurate number as reference. It can save you from throwing money on the window, buying some large device that proves less useful.
Most Important Features Of A Moisture Meter
As many other household items, moisture meters come in a variety of shapes, sizes and models. Getting to know better the main features that you should look for helps you make the right decision. Below, you can find a list of criteria that you can check to ensure you get a moisture meter adequate for your needs.
- MOISTURE RANGE
Considering the purpose you want to use the moisture meter, you may need a model with a wider range. For example, those who work with wood usually have to monitor the extent of the drying process. Dried lumber, compared to freshly cut wood, has a different moisture level. Most woodworking involves a range of 6% to 15%. If you plan to use wood only for burning, accuracy is not something that relevant for you. But for professionals using it to build furniture or wooden floors, precision is key. The more accurate, the better, as the level of moisture influences wood processing. The majority of moisture meters have a working range going up to 50%.
- MEASURING DEPTH
Construction work, renovations versus wood burning involve various levels of access to a surface. Pinless moisture meters allow you to measure up to 3/4 inches deep, while pinned models go up to 3/16 inches.
- MEASURED MATERIALS
On average, meters are suitable for measuring wood. Some models work great on concrete and drywall too. Latest models provide a more detailed insight on their display. They can even reflect the average values for a specific type of material.
- EASE OF USE
Investing in a moisture meter should not bring you a headache when you put it to work. Search for a model that is easy to use and has a clear display, that will not give you extra-trouble. Pinless meters, for example, scan wider areas without causing any damage. Pin meters may require several rounds of poking to get a reliable average.
Depending on your budget, you can find moisture meters at a very affordable price (less than 50$). You can also explore the more high-end versions that can reach up to 300$ in price.
Top 5 Picks For Moisture Meters 2020
Too many theoretical details can be as exciting as watching paint dry. So, let us get straight to the next point – our reviews for five of the best moisture meters. The table below gives you a quick overview for the main features. For a more thorough analysis, we also include an insightful description. Time to get down to…moisture measuring.
First on our list is the budget-friendly General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter. Use it to be a step ahead of mold growing within your home. It can reveal water leaks or hidden damp walls, just as well as it measures moisture in wood. And the numbers are super-easy to read, thanks to the backlit LCD display. Also, the device features audible and visual alerts, to flag extreme moisture values. The stainless steel pins allow for an insightful measurement ranging from 5 to 50% for wood or 1. 5 to 33% for building materials.
- water leak detector & moisture tester
- easy to use & read (backlit LCD Display)
- hold function (for reading freeze)
- self-shut down (battery life saving)
- one year of warranty.
- some buyers faced difficulty in getting accurate readings on drywall (defective items).
The Tavool Store Wood Moisture Meter takes precision to a whole new level. With 8 calibration scales for wood, this pin-type meter allows quick, effective reading. Such a detector is ideal as a tool for manufacturers, flooring installers, inspectors. Lumber suppliers can also rely on it to know the %MC in a few moments. Get more from this practical device, that features even a memory function. The automatic shut-down comes in handy to prevent battery draining.
- professional tool for wood measuring (8 calibration scales)
- suitable for building materials as well
- easy to use and read (large display, hold function)
- lightweight design
- self-turn off after 10 minutes
- two years of warranty.
- some wood species appear with their botanical name in the user manual list.
To enjoy the best of both worlds, the Extech MO55 Pin/Pinless Moisture Meter is a great combination. It can reflect the moisture level with high accuracy in various types of surfaces. From wood to sheetrock, concrete or mortar, this meter does the job right. The technology blending in this dual device kicks things up a notch. The sound alarm indicates rising levels of moisture, as its frequency increases.
- dual moisture measuring
- suitable for various surfaces/materials
- audible alert tone
- easy to read and use
- data hold (for display freeze)
- ideal for building restorations or detecting hidden leaks.
- high-end product
- limited warranty.
There are many moments when a non-invasive measuring of humidity is better. And the Dr.meter Pinless Wood Moisture Meter MD918 offers you that. Thanks to its intelligent lumber moisture meter, this device keeps your wood untouched. It can reach a range of up to 80% in reading. This meter relies on HF electromagnetic waves for reliable, hole-free evaluations. And you will appreciate the large array of wood types with which it is compatible. Features like temperature compensation or calibration indicator help you feel like a pro. The device will notify you of how to ensure the conditions of measuring are appropriate. After 5 minutes of inactivity, the power saving mode comes into the scene. The unit shuts off automatically this way.
- intelligent lumber moisture meter
- non-invasive measuring (HF electromagnetic waves technology)
- compatible with up to 10 grades of timber density
- temperature compensation feature
- calibration indicator.
- suitable only for wood
- some users complained about difficult calibration.
Building or woodworking conditions are more secure with the SAM-PRO Dual Moisture Meter. Use it for moisture and temperature readings on the most varied surfaces. The four smart material modes reflect the humidity levels in more than 100 materials. Inwood, concrete or carpets, moisture cannot stay hidden for long. The steel sensor pins detect it fast, while the large LCD screen makes readings easier.
- lifetime warranty
- large LCD screen for ease of use
- compatible with more than 100 materials
- four smart material type modes
- ideal for both moisture and temperature readings.
- users complain about the short battery life.
Having a moisture meter in your home or at work can prove very useful. In your fight against unstable humidity, such a tool can save you time and help you take better decisions. From advancing with reconstruction, down to detecting hidden leaks, information is essential. And a device like the ones we presented above can provide you the relevant details. Let us know in the comments how you would benefit from using a moisture meter.
Informed buying decisions make space for more questions. And a topic like moisture meters is no exception. We brought together answers for the most common concerns. Check this section to elucidate the mystery around the most frequently asked questions.
What is relative humidity?
Relative humidity reflects the amount of moisture in air, at a specific temperature. The lower this factor is, the less moisture problems exist in your home.
What is the ideal level of moisture in summer?
On average, a 50% level of moisture is usually considered adequate for the summer. As humidity increases in winter due to condensation, the ideal value for the cold season is lower. Around 25% is preferable.
How do moisture meters work?
Pin moisture meters assess the electrical resistance between the two pins (as electrodes). Electricity flows easier where moisture is present within the wood. As expected, while wood becomes dryer, its resistance to the electrical flow increases.
Pinless meters feature an electromagnetic sensor pad. This comes into contact with the wood surface, without needing to cause any damage. These devices can measure moisture content from the surface down to 0.2 inches. For deeper measurements, they can reach up to 1.5 inches.
How do I know if I have too much humidity in my house?
The most common signs that you have too much humidity in your house are rather visible. Condensation on windows during the winter is one of the most frequent. Adding to this, mold can grow on kitchen or bathroom surfaces. Paint can start to peel or crack both on the inside and outside. Any signs of allergies can be on the list too, due to overflowing dust mite infestation.
Can moisture meters detect mold?
Moisture meters can be of great help to detect mold infestation risks. Once mold is visible on walls or cabinets, that may be already too late. Moisture meters can scan and flag areas with excessive humidity within a surface. That is where mold spores flourish, so finding it in time can save you time and resources.
Does static electricity affect meter readings?
Cold and/or dry climates are where static charges can impact the meter readings ranging under 8 %. The analog meter pointer may “jump” all over the scale. If you have a digital display meter, the numbers may flash out of order. You can reduce the effect of static, with some simple measures. First, place the electrode pins into the wood with the device turned off. Turn the meter on after you are ready for the reading. Place your hands on both sides of the pins to help discharge the static. Pass over the board’s surface with a damp cloth before driving the pins.
What are the best ways to reduce moisture on a budget?
Control the common sources of moisture, such as cooking or bathing. Cover the pans often, increase ventilation indoors. Open the windows or keep doors open to improve the airflow, even during the winter. Insulate cold-water pipes where condensation tends to happen. Seal the cracks and put at least a plastic cover in your crawlspace, to stop the cold moist of the soil from coming up. Install some venting fans in the bathroom or kitchen, for better air circulation.
How can I improve humidity levels when it’s too low?
Consider adding a green corner to your space. Plants release oxygen, improving the quality of the air you breathe. But they also emit some moisture, which can contribute to your comfort. If you don’t want to invest in a humidifier, plants can be the most accessible, eco-friendly solution.
How to keep a moisture meter working properly?
Usually designed to last for a few years, moisture meters don’t need much maintenance. Try to store the meter in a clean, dry place and replace the batteries and pins whenever needed. Check the user’s manual for any specific recommendations from the manufacturer.