Cold Store Panels Retaining Moisture

Here is an infrared photo from a thermographic survey we did for one of the largest dairy companies in the world.

Thermal imaging cameras are an excellent tool for detecting moisture ingress into cold store panels.

We were recently hired to detect any signs of water leaking into a building freezer cool room made up entirely of 150mm thick polystyrene panels (poly in the middle and a plastic skin on either side). Between each panel is a join as seen in this image below.

cold store panels leaking

(The darkest area is water under the sealant between the panels. The lighter shades is water under the panels)

In theory: The roof should be a uniform temperature across the entire surface, as there is no shade or obstructions that could cause a different infrared temperature reading in isolated areas. On this roof, there were thermal anomalies in several areas which indicates there could be moisture ingress inside the panels.

The reason we can detected these anomalies, is because the moisture inside the panels would heat up and cool down at a different rate to the rest of the panels where no moisture is present. Thermal imaging can detect such anomalies instantly.

Taking into account the cool stores are running below zero degrees, any water inside these panels will most likely freeze. Frozen water will lead to excess weight inside the panels, and will also cause loss of cold air by conduction.

Potential Danger: A large build up of ice inside a low pitch roof cavity which is only 150mm thick could cause the roof to collapse due to sudden increase in weight.

Time of Survey: Just as the sun went down to avoid reflection giving off false readings. We needed some daylight so we had a reference point in the still images. This infrared inspection should have been done from a cherry picker or helicopter for safety reasons, but the pitch of the roof was low and safe to walk on.

In summary: Further invasive testing should be carried out in random areas to confirm if moisture/ice is present, and to confirm the structural integrity of the roof area.

NZ Moisture Reports & Testing – Pre Purchase

Moisture Reports are Critical When Buying a Home!

A pre purchase property report for moisture detection is almost common place now in NZ. Buyers, sellers, lawyers, real estate agents and   even family and friends will all suggest getting the property tested for moisture with a report… normally a thermal imaging report for leaks also. Moisture inspections & reports on leaky homes, or potential leaky buildings will even be recommended by the banks now!

This website literally has 100’s of pages of information and photo’s of moisture problems, and general information about which homes are the most likely to leak. You could spend hours reading through this info! If after you finish reading the articles you don’t think a thermal scan and moisture report is worth your while, then maybe you should reconsider purchasing the property… especially if it was built between 1992 – 2004 . Older homes leak also… even if it has treated timber framing. You need to know Before purchasing.


Other things to consider is if the home has treated timber. Treated timber framing can still rot if enough water gets onto it… but it generally stays isolated to the general area where the leak and moisture is. We can now do a timber treatment test to determine if your home, or the home you are looking to purchase has treated framing in the external walls. Call and ask for a free quote.

If you rush to buy, or get pushed to buy, feel free to call us after you move in and find the first sign of a leak. The first question we will ask you is “Did you get a moisture test or thermal imaging report prior to purchasing?”. Ok, I think i’ve made the point. (Sorry, but i’ve inspected so many house now in NZ, and have seen just about every devastating scenario. As we don’t know each other, all I can do is warn you as best I can).

Should I Reclad My Plaster Home?

We get a variety of valid questions from plaster home owners during building inspections. Some of these questions come from a ‘slightly worried’ mindset about the cladding on their home, and what the public perception is about plaster cladding systems.

Should you reclad your home, even if it’s not leaking?

The short answer is “No”. You don’t need to reclad unless the home is so far rotted that the toxic black mould is a health hazard, or the rot is causing structural integrity problems. Most homes have targeted areas that are leaking that need to be repaired… both the leak source and any damage caused as a result of the leak or moisture ingress.

There have been cases in NZ where reclad companies have convinced the property owner it’s a leaky home and needs to be reclad, only to find once the cladding is removed the timber frame is perfectly OK around the majority of the home.

 It’s true that recladding a house does increase the overall value of the home, but are you over capitalising?

How much does it cost to reclad a plaster house in NZ?

This will vary from company to company, but let us say for the purposes of this exercise that it will be $750 per square meter of floor area. For example, your home might be 200sqm, therefore it could cost $150,000.

Should I ‘bite the bullet’ and just reclad the home anyway?

If you plan to stay in the home long term, from our experience, the home owner will simply fix the detected leaks and subsequent damage… then maintain the home properly to avoid the same mistake in the future.

If you plan to sell, then you would need to ‘run the numbers’ and determine if it’s all worth it. If you spend $150k, will you get more than that back with the upgrade, or will you only break even on the deal after the process of moving out, paying fee’s here and there, stressing out, having the reclad all over your LIM report etc etc.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to numbers. Some builders buy leaky homes as a business… but normally from the price of the land only. When they slice the home open, some of them find it wasn’t so bad after all and go on to make a handsome profit.

It’s true that you automatically get thrown into the ‘potential leaky home’ basket, even if your home isn’t leaking… so work through every ‘numbers’ scenario you can. Maybe get a couple of free quotes from recladding services and you’ll possibly find it’s actually a good option to reclad in weatherboard… the cladding most Kiwi’s feel comfortable with and trust.

Keep in mind that you may need consent to do target repairs.

First… you need to know if it’s leaking or not! We can help you in that area from a non-biased point of view, as we don’t sell repair or recladding services at the end of the job.

What Causes Mould on Curtains

Have you got a HUGE  health hazard covering your windows?

Mouldy curtains can be very unhealthy, and you wouldn’t even suspect it. Curtains are normally very absorbent to moisture, and act like a big sponge to any moist air in the room… especially bedrooms. Once the mould starts to grow on the back of curtains, you ‘officially’ have mould spores flying around the room when you open up the curtains. Not very healthy!

What causes mould to grow on curtains?

Apart from moist air in the room, it’s the condensation on windows that cause bad mould issues. Wet windows are sitting right next to the curtains and basically transfer wet air directly onto the curtains, nets or blinds… especially when they touch the window! Single glazed windows don’t help the cause either.

So how do you stop condensation which causes mold?

You can try 2 very popular products called:

‘Curtain Magic Mould Remover’ and…

‘Condensation Magic’. 


At the end of the day, there are so many cases where home owners are living and sleeping in a rooms full of floating airbourne toxic black mould spores and they don’t do anything about it! Take action today, and breathe easy tomorrow.

Damp Testing Houses in NZ

One of the most unhealthy problems you can encounter in your house is dampness problems.

Damp is invisible to the naked eye, but you can smell it (can cause allergies) & you can see it (in the form of mould). What about the moisture in the air? Is using a dehumidifier enough?

The issue with dehumidifiers is they are expensive to run, and they can only do a small area. Also, if you have condensation all over your windows, then you are introducing plenty more moisture  into the air, and certainly into the curtains where it gets held… and further causing mould growth. (Read more here about mould on curtains – click here)

Unless you have a permanant moisture reduction system installed and double glazed windows, then you may be ‘stuck’ with the moisture problem in your home… and damp could be getting into all your furnishings etc.

All the above equals a very unhealthy damp home!

Damp testing can either be ‘air sampling’, which involves taking an air sample and having it lab tested for potential black mould spores. Or, you can have your walls tested to see if there is any dampness behind the wall. We can assist you with both of the above scenarios.

Otherwise it could be a straight out leak that you can’t see. We use a damp test meter and equipment to determine moisture meter levels. Call today for more info!

Moisture Detection Companies and Services NZ

With the leaky building crisis in full swing, and the building industry slowing down again, there is now a glut of new building inspection and moisture detection companies entering the market.

How do you know who the ‘newly registered’ home inspection companies are in the past year or so? Simple. Just go to the companies office website and do a search for their company name… that’s the fast and most accurate way to REALLY tell how long they’ve been in the business for!

We pride ourselves on being one of the longer standing moisture detection companies in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (operating NZ Wide) with some of NZ’s most high profile companies on our books, including several councils and publically listed companies who use our services time and time again.

What’s happened recently in the NZ building inspection services industry, is builders started to run out of physical building work, and as a result they suddenly turned into inspectors.

What happens next? They start inspecting homes with a potential ‘hidden’ agender. We called up 1o companies who have started inspecting houses in the past 2 years and asked them if they fixed any problems they found. 8 out of the 10 house inspection companies surveyed said “YES”, or they could refer someone who could. 5 of them did not carry a thermal imaging camera.

So now… is it really an independant inspection if they also sell repair services also? Possibly not. This goes for pre sale, pre purchase moisture detection and building inspection services.

The way we’ve built our company over the years, is by sticking to a policy of non-biased inspections, which means it makes absolutely no difference to us if we find zero leaks, or 10 leaks using our leak detection equipment and techniques. In addition, we do these moisture inspections with reports at the best possible price possible, based on the area where you live.

Cladding to Close to Deck = Moisture Damage

One of the most common questions we get asked, is “What are the most common causes of leaky homes?”

There are several things to look for when buying a home to determine if it could be a leaky building. There are several different telltale design faults that contribute to houses leaking… and here is just one of them:

In the righthand photo, you will see how the cladding runs down and touches the deck. In the lefthand infrared photo, you will see a dark shade running across the base of the cladding, indicating signs of moisture ingress at the base of the wall.

The new building code stats you need ‘ground clearence’ (a gap) between the bottom of the cladding and the ground (or in this case, the deck). What’s happened is the above photos, is water has run across the deck and under the base of the cladding. Because the deck is touching the cladding, the water has soaked back up the cladding (Commonly referred to as capillary reaction or ‘wicking’), and into the bottom plate of the timber frame behind the wall.

In addition, there is only a small height difference between the inside floor level and the outside deck level, therefore the water doesn’t have far to wick into the timber frame of the wall.

The above scenario is a common problem in homes built in the ‘leaky home era’, and as a result has caused many homes to sustain serious moisture damage within the building envelope.

In most cases you will not know if water has penetrated the wall unless you have the correct equipment to indicate if there could be an moisture issue… as most of ‘subtle’ leaking problems are not visible to the human eye.

How to Stop & Eliminate Condensation on Windows

How to eliminate condensation on windows

This is one of the most common questions we get asked… and the answer is actually straight forward. Click Here to see how you can do it within minutes!

Let me start by saying that I’m in NZ houses almost every day of the week testing for moisture, or inspecting houses for ‘leaks’ under windows. Well, in many cases they are not actually leaks coming in from the outside (i.e. Weather tightness issues), it’s condensation pouring down the windows and straight into the walls! This is especially the case for windows with no condensation channels, or situations where the miter joints have failed. Even some homes with double glazed windows still get moisture beading on the aluminum frame due to a high moisture content in the air.

“How do you stop condensation?”

Click Here to see how you reduce condensation within minutes!

If you have single glazed windows, then you’re in for an uphill battle right from the get go. Homes with single glazing will always be susceptible to moisture and damp issues if there is no air circulation. A classic example of ‘lack of air circulation’ is when a home owner calls telling us their basement is damp. If you smell damp in the basement of your house, simply ‘test’ putting a dehumidifier in the room. If the smell fades away after a few days, then you know it’s simply moist air. If the smell remains (providing it’s not a permanent smell in carpet), then you could have other moisture/drainage related problems, especially if the external walls are built into the side of a hill.

Back to stopping window condensation…

If you and/or your children are sleeping in a room with condensation on the windows, you should put a stop to this asap, purely for health purposes if anything. If you or someone in your home gets asthma, or generally gets sick over winter, then you need to do your best to begin a logical ‘process of elimination’ of what could be causing the problem. Here’s a few options to test…

  • Put a dehumidifier in the room… if it fills with water in 24hrs or less, you know the air is very moist! Consider getting some kind of system installed that works 24/7 to keep your home dry and healthy (HRV, DVS, Moisture Master etc).
  • If the dehumidifier doesn’t work, go for a holiday somewhere and sleep in a different environment for 5 days or so. Has the health condition of the person changed in a positive way? You might find it will, therefore your house is the problem.
  • Are the bedroom curtains moist? They most likely will be if you have condensation. Curtains in moist rooms act like a big sponge… further introducing ‘sustainable’ damp in the room. Not good.
    As a result of moisture on the back curtains (transferred from the wet windows), mould will start growing on the curtain, potentially causing further health issues! Try using this mould cleaning product on curtains…
  • Here is your best option… Click Here to see how you can manage and control condesation on windows within minutes!

Double glazed windows will certainly help reduce condensation, and also help to retain any heat that is introduced into the room. If you live in a damp area of NZ and are constantly getting sick, then you may have no choice but to sell up and leave! That is the extreme case I know, but many people take this option to resolve moisture related health problems almost right away. Why would you compromise your lifestyle and health, when you could be living somewhere warmer, healthier and generally a dryer environment!

In summary, NZ has moist climatic conditions over winter and there is nothing that you or I can do about part of it… but there are always ways around it, generally at a cost. Before you hit the panic button, the best low-cost place to start is with moisture testing the home to make sure the problem isn’t originating from behind the wall, which is often the case… and usually doesn’t cost much to fix providing it’s not a widespread moisture ingress isssue.

Moisture Testing Houses on Dry Summer Days

“Can you moisture test a home on dry summer days? “… a common question clients ask in summer time.

Yes you can, but there’s a couple of things to consider. Before I explain further, here’s a photo of a major leak below a window that we detected on a hot dry Auckland day with thermal imaging and moisture meters… (You can see the mould stain on the internal side of fiber cement board)

The timber doesn't look too damaged does it?
The timber doesn't look too damaged does it?

This is a very common type of window leak that was caused be cracks opening up around where the plaster cladding meets the aluminium window frame. There were no visual signs of this leak on gib board, skirting or external cladding.

So can you detect moisture problems in houses when it hasn’t rained?

First of all, there is a difference between moisture and leaks. Moisture will accumulate in a wall (with no cavity), and penetrate into insulation as a result of a leak. Moisture will stay long term, even if you fix the source of the leak… and if the timber in the area is untreated, mould and decay will start to take place, and you won’t even know it. A pitched roof leak for example could be missed if it hasn’t rained for some time, as the air circulation in the ceiling space will potentially dry the leak out… but not so with trapped moisture in walls.

The moisture damage below the window above was due to lack of cladding maintenance around the windows… coupled with design issues.

Here’s part 2 of what happened with the job above:

The home owner got his local builder to take the gib board off where we had found the leak. The vendor then had the source of the problem fixed and they used a dehumidifier to dry the area out. He kept the area open and dry of two weeks before replacing the gib, plastering and painting. The reason he went ahead and closed it all back up is because the timber frame looked and felt dry… and the screwdriver didn’t go through the timber when he tested further. Then…

He called me back to do a ‘re-test’ and get a clean moisture report. Guess what? After all that time drying it out, the moisture readings came back at 60% (Well over 18 – 20% moisture that it should be). Why was this? The moisture was inside the untreated timber and couldn’t be ‘seen’. See, the window leak was running down the internal side of the cladding where the timber frame was touching, therefore the majority of the water was soaking in through the back on the timber and across… and didn’t leave much visual evidence on the side of the timber that could be viewed.

Now what?

The area is now getting pulled back apart and the timber is coming out. Ideally, he would have had it moisture tested before closing it back up.

Summary: Dehumidifiers won’t completely dry out moist untreated timber, and what ‘looks’ dry may not be… even if you can’t push a screwdriver through it.

Further info about how moisture can accumulate in walls HERE

Can Internal Moisture Cause Timber to Rot?

So you’ve made sure every crack and pentration on the external cladding is sealed, so the house won’t leak… right?

Not so. Sure, the external cladding may now be all sealed up and water tight as a navy submarine, but is there a possibility that moisture can still get into the timber frame of the house? Yes… if there is no wall cavity system, most definately… especially if you don’t have a system in place to expel the trapped moisture.

How is the moisture getting into the wall if the house is ‘sealed’?

Recently I found this topic on a forum which talks about the basic theory of how moisture ‘penetrates’ walls, even when you think your home is water tight. I thought this summed it up nicely…

internal moisture extract

(Did you take note of the last sentence of paragraph 2? Nice analogy!)

In summary, if a wall can’t breathe (i.e cavity system), then it’s only a matter of time before moisture does what it does best to timber… rot.

If you fix cladding directly onto timber, and then you also cover the internal side with gib board, then what you are actually doing is creating a vaccuum. What  happens next, is that the local plumber comes along and fixes a pipe bracket through the plaster which will eventually release and create a small hole. Then what happens?

Here’s what… the outside air pressure is greater than the internal wall pressure, therefore the water gets sucked right into the tightest of holes and penetrations. Got kids? Make sure they dont slam their pushbikes up against the plaster cladding and penetrate it… same effect… in goes the water!!

As a result of many plaster homes leaking, some people will only buy old weatherboard or brick & tile homes… you know, then ones that have been standing for 50+yrs, but wouldn’t get a CCC under the new building code  🙂 . Hmmm.

Did they build with internal gutters back in the good old days (Common design issue associated with leaky buildings)? The basic issue here is that if the gutter leaks, it goes straight down into the wall… and it can’t escape because there is no cavity for it to exit. The only thing standing in the way of the water is untreated timber! Ekkk.

Here’s an interesting fact: Just about every builder I speak too says “I tried to warn the authorities that untreated timber wouldn’t work”. So why did they go ahead and build with it? Because they could, and it was cheaper etc etc. Lets not get into the ‘who’s at fault’ debate… we’ll leave that to the ‘experts’… and no doubt the experts will be the ones that created the problem in the first place (cough).

95% of plaster home owners when asked “Would you buy another plaster home?”, say “NO”. This is based on my own survey whilst inspecting homes, it’s not an official statistic. You can join the dots on the meaning of that one.