Trotec T2000 multifunction sensorMoisture Meters for Structural Wood Damage Assessment
How experts assess the structural integrity of wood framing or wood timbers in-situ

  • WOOD BEAM ROT ASSESS: MOISTURE METERS - CONTENTS: assessment of the effectiveness of the use of moisture meters or moisture detection to detect wood rot in wood structural beams & timbers
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about methods used in testing structural wood members for damage or decay & the role of micro-drilling tests for in-situ evaluation of structural wood beams, timbers, or other framing members in buildings..

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Role of moisture meters among the methods for determining the soundness of wood structural members: this article discusses the use and the limitations of moisture meters in screening a building for structural damage to wood framing members.

This article series describes the various methods used to test & evaluate the structural integrity of wood-framed buildings where focus is on the condition of structural wood posts, beams and other framing members. We discuss the problems surrounding hidden rot or decay, the presence or absence of moisture or other instrument-detectable clues, and the problem of subjective decisions to replace or not-replace suspect wood structural members.

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Moisture Meters Used for Spotting Areas of Extra Risk of Structural Rot Damage

Moisture meter test (C) Daniel Friedman5Paul Probett, Clinton Craig, Blake Probett, Incodo Forensic Building Specialists [1]

This article series on methods for assessing structural wood rot & damage is adapted & expanded from the author's "An Introduction to Micro-Drilling Technology for N. Z. Structural Timber Assessment" and is used with permission. We [DF] have added comments, some illustrations, and additional article citations.

At the references section we include a link to the original article as well as contact information for the authors and Incodo Ltd., a Tauranga, New Zealand forensic engineering firm.

[Click to enlarge any image or illustration]

Here, in expansion of an original article by Probett et als [1], here we discuss the range of structural wood beam or timber assessment methods where wood beams, timbers, or other structural members are used in buildings and where there is known or suspected risk of structural damage from leaks, decay by wood rotting fungi, or damage by wood destroying insects.

It is crucial to use this or any nondestructive testing tool or device as part of a comprehensive condition assessment. Such an assessment should incorporate an in-depth visual inspection, knowledge of prior use of the structure, and a working knowledge of fundamental engineering properties of structural wood products.

Trotec T2000 multifunction sensorCurrent choices for assessing the structural integrity of wood timbers, beams, or other framing members include the following:

Our preferred moisture meter is a Trotec T2000

This tool accepts a wide range of input sensors including 16+ variations on pin type electrodes for measuring moisture in wood. Quoting from the manufacturer:

Multifunctional measuring instruments with digital precision without the measured value drift disadvantage of analogue instruments.

SDI input for serial sensors such as temperature, relative humidity, flow speed and destruction-free humidity measurement. In addition to the Trotec sensors you can not only connect electrodes from other manufacturers to the device with adapter cables but [the tool] will also be able to combine future sensor developments with the T2000. [24]

We find the “lollipop”  dielectric head particularly useful and the microwave head is of some use.

The unit also comes with a temp/humidity probe that is only 4 mm diameter and we use it on cavities and to determine moisture in concrete.

Interestingly the Trotec Manual also includes research from Aachen Univ that allows resistance readings in concrete and other non wood materials to be converted to MC%. - P.D.

Moisture meter test (C) Daniel FriedmanFor a study testing the effectiveness of several types of moisture meters for finding wet materials or surfaces hidden in wall cavities of a building with known current, recent, and previous leaks see MOISTURE METER STUDY.

We tried pin type and electronic moisture encounter meters as well as more invasive methods such as test cuts in suspect areas, followed by a complete interior surface demolition to disclose actual leak areas, both recent and historic.

Our photo (above left) illustrates the chance involved in using even a long-pin Delmhorst moisture meter to detect an exterior wall water leak that sent water running inside the wall cavity but down the side of the stud.

None of the moisture meters we tested could find this leak until we cut open the wall.

In general, pin type moisture meters work well at producing moisture content profiles in materials that have been directly wet or dampened such as wood or drywall that are directly accessible.

Probing deep inside wall cavities, as our photo above illustrates, is a hit-or miss proposition. Electronic moisture encounters work well at producing moisture content profiles on all surfaces and can detect moisture behind a ceramic tile wall. But these devices can be fooled by foil faced insulation, expanded metal lath, piping and wiring.


Also see our insect damage & wood-destroying insect type identification articles beginning at INSECT INFESTATION / DAMAGE and STRUCTURAL DAMAGE PROBING and see TIMBER FRAMING, ROT where we describe the relationship between construction details and the occurrence of structural rot in timber frame buildings.

Note: Above information is copyright, commercially sensitive and is yet to be peer reviewed. It is not to be copied or circulated without the express and written permission of Incodo Limited. Adapted here by, with permission from Incodo 8/5/2012, technical review is in process.

V4a 06/12 - ####


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