7 common mistakes when using a moisture meter


If you’re in an industry that needs to know how much moisture is in a certain material, like woods, food, soil or even tobacco, you probably already know about moisture meters.  A building inspector uses one to check for damp damage.  Furniture makers check their timber before starting work.  A floor layer will whip out their moisture meter before putting something expensive down on a slab.

Although rapidly-changing technologies are speeding along at an eye-watering pace, most meter meters do their thing by simply measuring the material in question’s electrical resistivity.  The simplest meter readout is then a moisture content percentage – 0 for bone dry up to 100 for fully-saturated – with different meters offer varying degrees of accuracy and features.

Most moisture meters can be divided into three types: pin, pinless, and all-in-one.  For the first, two pins penetrate the test surface to get the reading.  Pinless meters are non-invasive, collecting their measurements by with the principle of electrical impedance, while all-in-one does it all – collects a quick reading whilst also allowing the user to get more specific about the precise moisture source. All three types can be purchased at a reputable supplier like RS Components.

Feel like you’re ready to start using a moisture meter for your business’ critical operations?  It’s not difficult at all … if you know which common user mistakes to avoid:

1. Getting the depth wrong

With a pin-based meter, you need to get the reading depth right.  For instance, a floor layer may attempt to take a reading through an existing floor covering whilst not reaching deep enough into the sub-floor – and getting a moisture content reading that is misleading.

2. Getting the pressure wrong

The most common mistake with a pinless moisture meter, on the other hand, is not applying the correct amount of pressure.  Get it wrong, and you’ll also be testing the moisture content of the air between the material and the sensor.

3. Bending the pins

Apply too much pressure to a pin-type meter, though, and you risk damaging, bending or breaking those pins.  If you need to really ram those pins in like you’re banging in a nail – for hardwoods, for instance – you’ll need to ensure your meter has hammer-style pins.

4. ‘Making do’

Especially if those pins are difficult to get properly inserted, it can be tempting for a moisture meter user to think ‘that will do’ … and then get a totally inaccurate reading.  Remember: just because you get the moisture readout you’re looking for doesn’t necessarily mean the test was properly carried out.

5. Ignoring maintenance

Like any important device – and especially the ones you use for profit-making or operations-dependent activities – it’s crucial to look after them.  It may be a moisture meter, but getting your moisture meter wet is a very bad idea, as is storing it where it will get very hot or very cold.

6. Not checking calibration

An accurate meter is a properly calibrated meter, and it’s the user’s responsibility to ensure it.  The best strategy is to run the calibration every time you use it to guarantee accurate readings, and the worst is to forget about it completely.  For real peace of mind, browse moisture meters with an on-demand, instant calibration facility.

7. Using the wrong setting

Your moisture meter is probably calibrated for wood, but you may be able to program in your own settings for the particular material being tested, or flick between settings for hardwood or softwoods, for example.  If the meter doesn’t allow for setting changes, the reading may be more approximate than accurate.

Ready to select the moisture meter your organisation or application requires?  Make sure you buy a product specific to the materials you want to test, is capable of the required depth, and is robust enough to cope with the operating conditions.


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