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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5Paul Probett, Clinton Craig, Blake Probett, Incodo Forensic Building Specialists 
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 , 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.
Our preferred moisture meter is a Trotec T2000 http://www.trotec.de/en/product-catalog/measuring-instruments/multi-function/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. 
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.
For 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 MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS - DF.
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 InspectaPedia.com, with permission from Incodo 8/5/2012, technical review is in process.
V4a 06/12 - ####
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Technical Reviewers & References
 Paul Probett, Clinton Craig, Blake Probett, "An Introduction to Micro-Drilling Technology for N. Z. Structural Timber Assessment", Incodo Ltd, 4/511 Cameron Rd, Tauranga NZ, article adapted by InspectAPedia with permission, August 2012. Contact the authors by Email: Paul Probett, email@example.com , Tel: 027 28 000 36 (Mobile) Website: http://incodo.co.nz/ [Copy of this article on file as Microdrilling_Assessment_Incodo.pdf]
 Thomas Tannert, Andreas Muller, Mareike Vogel, "Applications and limitations of NDT: a timber bridge case study", NDTCE’09, Non-Destructive Testing in Civil Engineering
Nantes, France, June 30th – July 3rd, 2009, web search 8/3/2012, original source: http://www.ndt.net/article/ndtce2009/papers/144.pdf [copy on file as Tannert_Timber_Test_144.pdf]
 Bohumil Kasal, Thomas Tannert, "RILEM Technical Committee on In Situ Assessment of Structural Timber", Bohumil Kasal et al., 2010, Advanced Materials Research, 133-134, 271, Abstract: Timber is an intriguing structural material and the only one that is truly renewable. Being biodegradable, hygroscopic and non-isotropic, it presents special challenges when assessing its integrity in structures. The presented paper outlines the major issues related to in-situ evaluation of structural timber and summarizes the work of the RILEM Technical Committee 215-AST “In-situ assessment of structural timber”. The committee was established in 2005 to bring together leading scientists and practitioners in the field of evaluation of timber in existing structures. Timber structures have been investigated for decades using numerous techniques that have been either developed specifically for the material or were transferred from other fields of investigation. A state-of-the-art report describing existing and emerging technologies and methods was prepared by the RILEM committee. The report describes the principles, the applications and the limitations of major evaluation techniques for in-situ assessment of timber. A brief discussion of codes standards and future research needs shows that much needs to be done in this area. As a present activity, harmonized test procedure recommendations are being prepared that will provide the engineering community with valuable guidance when evaluating timber structures.
 Bohumil Kasal & Thomas Tannert (Editors), In Situ Assessment of Structural Timber, ISBN 978-94-007-0559-3, Rilem 2010
 Bohumil Kasal, Tension Micro Specimens,
In Situ Assessment of Structural Timber
RILEM State of the Art Reports, 2011, Volume 7, 75-80, DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-0560-9_8, [excepts chapter 7 on file: Tension Micro-Specimens, as Kasal_Testing.pdf]
[Also] Kasal B, Anthony R: Advances in in-situ evaluation of timber structures. Progress in Structural Eng and Materials. 6(2):94-103, 2004.
 Thomas Tannert, Andreas Müller, Mareike Vogel, "in-situ assessment, hot spots, moisture content, block-laminated timber", ICTB 2010, Bern University of Applied Sciences. ISBN 978 8251 926805, in-situ assessment, hot spots, moisture content, block laminated timber,
 Wilkinson K, Thambiratnam D, Ferreira L. Non Destructive Testing of Timber Bridge Girders. In Proceedings Int. Conf. on Structural Condition Assessment, Monitoring and Improvement, Perth, Australia, 2005.
 Kasal B, Anthony R: Advances in in-situ evaluation of timber structures. Progress in Structural Eng and Materials. 6(2):94-103, 2004.
 Gerold M. Bloc-Glued Laminated decks for timber bridges. Structural engineering international, 12(3): 214–217, 2002.
 Graham T. Overview of non-destructive evaluation technologies. In Proceedings of the Nondestructive Evaluation of Aging Bridges and Highways, Ed by S. Chose, 1995.
 Duwadi SR, Ritter MA. An Overview of the Wood in Transportation Program in the United States, In Proceedings 5th World Conference on Timber Engineering, Montreux, Switzerland, 1998.
 Rinn F, Schweingruber FH, Schär E. Resistograph and X-Ray Density Charts of Wood. Comparative Evaluation of Drill resistance Profiles and X-Ray Density Charts of Different Wood Species. Holzforschung 50:303-311, 1996.
 Brashaw B, Vatalaro RJ, Wacker JP and RJ Ross. Condition Assessment of Timber Bridges: 1. Evaluation of a Micro-Drilling Tool. Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-159. Forest Products Laboratory Madison, WI. 2005.
[14 Simpson W. Drying and Control of Moisture Content and Dimensional Changes. Chapter 12, Wood handbook - wood as an engineering material. General Technical Report FPL–GTR– 113. Forest Products Laboratory, WI, 1999.
 "Fractometer Print Manual", IML Instrumenta Mechanik Labor System GmbH Großer Stadtacker 2 69168 Wiesloch • Germany, 02-2008, web search 8/4/12, original source: http://www.imlusa.com/Fractometer_Print_eng_web_A4.pdf [Copy on file as Fractometer_Print_eng.pdf]
 Bob Monk, "Evaluation of Decay Detection Equipment in Standing Trees", USDA Forest Service, web search 8/4/12, original source http://www.fs.fed.us/eng/techdev/IM/tree_decay/tree_decay_detect_equip.shtml [Copy on file as Monk_Tree_Deday_Detection.pdf] Introduction - quoting:
 Pilodyn Wood Tester, USA / Canadian Source: Intech-NDE, 6211 Roper Road
T6B 3G6, Tel: 1 888-576-7756 or Intech-NDE, 140 - 8851 Beckwith Road
Richmond, B.C., Tel: 1 800-677-8884, or USA Tel: 800-297-3208, Website: http://www.intechnde.com, web search 8/4/12, original source: http://www.corvib.com/pilodyn/ Quoting:
 Pilodyn Wood Tester, Hylec Controls, available in Australia from Ferret http://www.ferret.com.au/n/Pilodyn-wood-density-meter-from-Hylec-n852069 - Quoting:
 Hylec Controls, 8 Melissa Street AUBURN NSW 2144 AUSTRALIA, Tel: 1300 522 004, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.ferret.com.au/c/Hylec-Controls
 Brashaw, Brian K.; Vatalaro, Robert J.; Wacker, James P.; Ross, Robert J. 2005. "Condition Assessment of Timber Bridges: 1. Evaluation of a Micro-Drilling Resistance Tool" Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-159. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 8 p., web search 8/5/2012, original source: http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fpl_gtr159.pdf [copy on file as Micro_Drill_Study_USDA_fpl_gtr159.pdf] This publication is also available from the U.S. FPL at www.fpl.fs.fed.us
 Brashaw, B.K.; Vatalaro, R.J.; Erickson, J.R.; Forsman, J.W.; Ross, R.J. 2004. Final Report: A Study of Technologies to Locate Decayed Timber Bridge Members. Project No. 187-6456, NRRI/TR-2004-06. Duluth, MN: UM-Duluth, Natural Resources Research Institute.
 Brashaw, B.K.; Vatalaro, R.J.; Ross, R.J.; Wacker, J.P. 2005. Condition Assessment of Timber Bridges: 2. Evaluation of Several Commercially Available Stress Wave/Ultrasonic Tools. Gen. Tech. Rep. FPL-GTR-160. Madison, WI: USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory.
 Ross, R.J.; Brashaw, B.K.; Wang, X.; White, R.H.; Pellerin, R.F. 2004. Wood and Timber Condition Assessment Manual Madison, WI: Forest Products Society. 74 p.
 Troltech GMBH & Co. KG. Deutchland, Grebbener Str. 7, D-52525 Heinsberg, Deutchland, produces the Trotec T2000, Tel: 02452 962-450, International: +49 2452 962-450, Email: email@example.com, Website: http://www.trotec.de/, Web page for the Troltec T2000: http://www.trotec.de/en/product-catalog/measuring-instruments/multi-function/t2000/
 Paul Probett, Incodo, Ltd., "Thermal Imaging and Building Surveying / Inspection" 2008, Incodo Ltd, 4/511 Cameron Rd, Tauranga NZ, article adapted by InspectAPedia with permission, August 2012. Contact the authors by Email: Paul Probett, firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: 027 28 000 36 (Mobile) Website: http://incodo.co.nz/ [Copy of this article on file as Thermal Imaging NDT Presentation 2008.ppt ]
Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: email@example.com
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides:
Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, by Steven Bliss. John Wiley & Sons, 2006. ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, Hardcover: 320 pages, available from Amazon.com and also Wiley.com. See our book review of this publication.
Decks and Porches, the JLC Guide to, Best Practices for Outdoor Spaces, Steve Bliss (Editor), The Journal of Light Construction, Williston VT, 2010 ISBN 10: 1-928580-42-4, ISBN 13: 978-1-928580-42-3, available from Amazon.com
The Journal of Light Construction has generously given reprint permission to InspectAPedia.com for certain articles found at this website. All rights and contents to those materials are ©Journal of Light Construction and may not be reproduced in any form.
Allen, Edward and Joseph Iano. Fundamentals of Building Construction: Fourth Edition. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2004. pg. 91 [LVL lumber]
APA - The Engineered Wood Association, 7011 So. 19th St., PO Box 11700, Tacoma WA 98411-0700, Tel: 253-565-7265. APA provides an HDO/MDO Plywood Product Guide that offers details about these products., provides an HDO/MDO Plywood Product Guide that offers details about these products. Product support help desk: 253-620-7400. Email the APA at email@example.com. Web search 09/13/2010, original source: http://www.pacificwoodlaminates.com/img/PDFs/PlywoodGuide.pdf
Building Failures, Diagnosis & Avoidance, 2d Ed., W.H. Ransom, E.& F. Spon, New York, 1987 ISBN 0-419-14270-3
Building Pathology, Deterioration, Diagnostics, and Intervention, Samuel Y. Harris, P.E., AIA, Esq., ISBN 0-471-33172-4, John Wiley & Sons, 2001 [General building science-DF] ISBN-10: 0471331724 ISBN-13: 978-0471331728
Building Pathology: Principles and Practice, David Watt, Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (March 7, 2008) ISBN-10: 1405161035 ISBN-13: 978-1405161039
Crawl Space Moisture Control, U.S. Department of Energy
Design of Wood Structures - ASD, Donald E. Breyer, Kenneth Fridley, Kelly Cobeen, David Pollock, McGraw Hill, 2003, ISBN-10: 0071379320, ISBN-13: 978-0071379328
Diagnosing & Repairing House Structure Problems, Edgar O. Seaquist, McGraw Hill, 1980 ISBN 0-07-056013-7 (obsolete, incomplete, missing most diagnosis steps, but very good reading; out of print but used copies are available at Amazon.com, and reprints are available from some inspection tool suppliers). Ed Seaquist was among the first speakers invited to a series of educational conferences organized by D Friedman for ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors, where the topic of inspecting the in-service condition of building structures was first addressed.
Domestic Building Surveys, Andrew R. Williams, Kindle book, Amazon.com
Defects and Deterioration in Buildings: A Practical Guide to the Science and Technology of Material Failure, Barry Richardson, Spon Press; 2d Ed (2001), ISBN-10: 041925210X, ISBN-13: 978-0419252108. Quoting:
Guide to Domestic Building Surveys, Jack Bower, Butterworth Architecture, London, 1988, ISBN 0-408-50000 X
Historic Preservation Technology: A Primer, Robert A. Young, Wiley (March 21, 2008) ISBN-10: 0471788368 ISBN-13: 978-0471788362
Manual for the Inspection of Residential Wood Decks and Balconies, by Cheryl Anderson, Frank Woeste (Forest Products Society), & Joseph Loferski, October 2003, ISBN-13: 978-1892529343, $39.00 at Amazon.com or at the InspectAPediaBookstore
R-Value of Wood, U.S. Department of Energy
Microllam Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) and/or Parallam Parallel Strand Lumber (PSL) MSDS Material Safety Data Sheet, courtesy of Weyerhaeuser Company, PO Box 9777, Federal Way, WA 98063-9777 Tel: 253-924-3865
Log Homes: Log Home Design, U.S. Department of Energy
Our recommended books about building & mechanical systems design, inspection, problem diagnosis, and repair, and about indoor environment and IAQ testing, diagnosis, and cleanup are at the InspectAPedia Bookstore. Also see our Book Reviews - InspectAPedia.