Moisture Testing Companies

Are you looking for a moisture testing company to test the timber framework in your house… or the house you’re about to buy?

It’s true… there are several companies to choose from in NZ who do moisture testing, but like any other type of business, are they using the equipment correctly? What exactly are they looking for?

Here’s what prompted me to write this post. I found an online sample of a building moisture testing report from an inspection company in the North Island. It showed the actual moisture meter he used to ‘test for moisture’ in wall. The meter had two 15mm pins and he simply put them through the gib board and onto the timber stud… here’s the problem with this method in my opinion:

First of all, gib board is 10mm thick, so the majority of the pin was directly touching the gib, and only 5mm of the pin actually penetrated the timber. So how on this earth will he detect the moisture on the outer side of the timber?

There are 1000’s and 1000’s of homes in NZ with no cavity system, which means the cladding is fixed directly onto the timber framework. If the cladding leaks through cracks (especially plaster), then it goes directly onto the outer side of the timber (cladding side). So if you stick two small pins into the internal side of the timber, and the moisture hasn’t got across that far, then the moisture inspection company could be missing the first signs of a leaky home.

Moisture testing companies in NZ will vary, so if they are going to do an invasive inspection for you, make sure they at least first drill holes through the gib that are wider than the pins, so the pins don’t take a false reading off the gib! In some cases the gib is slightly moist, but the timber is fine… yet that could throw out the reading and cause a ‘false positive’ reading.

One of the moisture testing companies we use in Auckland actually bypass the internal side of the timber and only penetrate the longer moisture meter pins into the external side of the timber as close to the cladding as possible. This is critical in most areas of the home. Leaks under windows are more likely to cause an even spread of moisture on the timber frame and the testing equipment will normally detect that from the internal side… even with a non-invasive moisture meter and usually infrared thermal imaging also. 

In many cases, the moisture testing inspector will use a non-invasive meter to first establish where there are signs of moisture… and these meters will usually pick up where the moisture issues are in the home very quickly because they are extremely sensitive and calibrated accordingly… even through gib board. If timber is moist, it will transfer that moisture onto the gib and that’s what we are actually reading with the non-invasive meter, and that’s what you also are ‘seeing’ in the infrared camera photos on this website (different temperature on the surface of the gib where the leak(s) are).

Would you buy a car without even looking at it? Probably not. Well why would you buy a house without getting an idea of what the timber frame is like! After all, it’s the ‘bones’ of your walls.

Don’t get caught buying a dog like many immigrants do! The problem is they don’t even consider the moisture testing option when buying a home, mainly because most homes around the world don’t have the leaky home issues like we do here in NZ. It’s not that these offshore buyers are silly, it’s just that they aren’t aware of the problem NZ faces. Better to be safe then sorry!!

Moisture Meter – Measuring Moisture Content of Wood

We have a serious moisture problem in this country when untreated timber comes into the picture!

The moisture content within timber has a very important bearing on the uses for that type of wood. Having a good understanding of how moisture and leaks effect timber types is therefore critical to determine utilization. Moisture meters are the fast way to read moisture levels in wood.

Here’s a quick lesson about wood moisture, how it works in timber… and why we have leaky homes and leaky buildings in NZ:

The makeup on wood is best described as 1000’s of tiny cells… and within those cells are cell walls and cavities. Heartwood and Sapwood in their raw form (freshly cut) are saturated with moisture, and you may have noticed this yourself when you cut down a tree. In between the saturated cells are very small spaces of air. Once the wood has been cut, and the drying out process of the timber begins, the first part of the cell to loose it’s moisture content is the cell cavity, and then the cell wall.

Important to understand: Once the moisture from the timber cell walls has completely evaporated and the timber itself has somewhat shrunk in the process, the woods moisture content will then be in equilibrium with its surroundings (EMC – Equilibrium Moisture Content).

Once the timber framework of your home has been put in place by the builder, from then on its integrity and life span will be subject to the variations in surrounding relative humidity (and to a lesser extent, temperature). In general, most countries around the world including New Zealand, will have wide variances in humidity between winter and summer months, therefore the Equilibrium Moisture Content of the timber will affected (swelling and shrinking) if it wasn’t originally dried to the average moisture content is will attain in use. That’s why moisture meters quickly help us to determine if the timber is either dried out, or wet.

Are you starting to get the picture about why the high moisture content in untreated timber is causing major issues here is NZ with leaky buildings?

How does temperature affect moisture readings?

Most companies will initially calibrate their moisture meters around 19 -21 degress. The problem with people who aren’t experienced and don’t know how to use a moisture meter correctly, is they aren’t aware of how to add or subject readings based on temperature corrections. The basic rule of thumb, is that you subtract 1 from the meter reading either way per 5 degrees in temperature variance (this only applies up to 70 degrees in temp). The best moisture meters for sale in NZ will have this correction feature as a function.

You should have knowledge about the different timber species used in NZ buildings prior to arriving at a benchmark moisture percentage to work with. Treated and untreated timber will require adjustments. Untreated timber will actually give the most true reading because there aren’t any chemical preservatives to throw the moisture reading out.

We use a moisture meter to test NZ houses daily, and it works out cheaper for us to do the moisture inspection for you then buying one for yourself. 

(Source: Some of the above info was provided by NZ Forest Research Institute)

Condensation Moisture – Ants crawling out corner of window sill?

Have you noticed signs of timber rot in the corners of your window sills?

One on the ‘red flags’ that will normally catch my eye when doing a thermal home moisture inspection, is when the window sill has a soft spot up against the window joinery OR if ants are crawling out of the sill in the area.

Recently during a moisture inspection, my equipment detected signs of moisture behind the wall under a window. There was a builder with me at the time of inspection, and without hesitating, he pulled off the gib board on the spot.

Here’s what the thermal camera detected (Dark area in bottom right corner indicates a potential issue)


What did we find behind this area?

Ant nests, black mould, rotted timber and all the things you don’t want to see if you own the home. Who else was there? The tenant. The tenant had 3 kids and went into a panic due to the unhealthy aspect of the home… like black mould spores floating into the air etc.

Typical: The home owner didn’t even know the window sills were rotting, because the tenants didn’t say a word about these issues when they first appeared, and now the vendor has some serious remedial work to undertake. (The cladding was plaster with no cavity). On top of that, the tenant is now taking this to the rental tribunal to get out of the lease on the grounds of an unhealthy home.

The message here is that if you own a home that is rented out, and it’s built between 1992-2004, then you should consider a thermal moisture ‘check up’ to detect potential problems caused by joinery leaks and window condensation… before the whole wall rots due to gradual leak damage!

Should you bother getting an infrared moisture scan? Take a look around this website to see what other types of leaks our thermal camera has found behind walls…

Banks requiring leak and moisture inspections before lending?

Here’s another solid indicator about the risks involved with buying a home built in NZ

There have been a growing number of phone enquiries to us saying “the bank would like a leak and moisture test on the home before they lend us the money”. So why would this be?

As you are most likely aware, the leaky home problem in NZ  is constantly talked about in the media… and for good reason. People are watching their bank balances plummet to the floor in legal fees because they didn’t get a moisture test before buying their home (not to mention the stress involved)… and guess who else risks losing money on leaky buildings? The banks!

Question: Would you lend your money to someone buying a home in NZ built between 1992 and 2004 (leaky home era), without getting it checked first with a thermal imaging camera and moisture testing equipment? Unlikely. I know I wouldn’t.

The banks can also see that some of these homes are ‘risky’ or potential leaky buildings, so to help reduce their risk, they also want to know if the home they are lending money on is a potential ‘lemon’. The bank may not require moisture testing if you have a very large deposit, but if you intend on borrowing the majority of the money, then don’t be surprised if an infrared moisture inspection becomes one of their lending conditions.

Are there any homes that don’t leak?

The majority of homes we inspect do have a leak of some kind. Some types of leaks wouldn’t warrant pulling out of a property deal, whilst others certainly would. EG.Would you prefer to find a shower leak that only requires the screen to be resealed, or find a leak running down the wall from ceiling to floor in a home with no cavity system and untreated timber (Common is leaky buildings)? Give me a shower leak anyday!

Take care when buying, because some homes simply aren’t as tidy as they appear… and most people find that out after they become unconditional on the home… because they didn’t want to spend the money up front to get it checked out.

Now that you know about infrared thermal leak detection, do you think you could buy a home without it? Some people would take the risk and ‘hope for the best’, but with all the leaky home issues in NZ, most savvy home buyers don’t take the risk of buying without an infrared building inspection first. Here are more thermal images of hidden leaks in ‘nice looking’ homes.

Invasive Moisture Meter Test Reveals Wet Rotting Timber

During a recent infrared moisture inspection test, we had an interesting question arise from a home owner….

The question was … “If our home was built before the leaky home era, does that mean the timber behind our walls won’t rot?”

The answer is “No”. Any timber that is wet for an extended period of time will eventually rot.

If you are buying a home built outside the ‘leaky building era’, then you still run the risk of buying a home with wet timber behind the wall. This type of moisture is usually due to leaking windows, plumbing leaks or some kind of gradual leak.

In NZ, due to all the publicity about leaky problems with many homes and buildings, it’s almost becoming ‘normal’ to get moisture inspection in additional to a structural building inspection report. I can’t tell you how many times home owners have said to me “I wish I knew about your service before we purchased this home”

So what happens if signs of moisture are detected with a non-invasive moisture test?

The next step is an invasive test. This involves inserting two probes deep into the framework to determine if there is moisture INSIDE the timber. If the invasive moisture meter reading still comes up high, then further investigation should take place to determine what the condition of the timber is like behind the wall, and if rot or mould has set in. (You should find this out before handing over the money for the dwelling).

Is an invasive inspection from the interior of the home equivalent of a ‘weather tightness’ inspection?

No. There have been plenty of cases where the timber is only rotting in the immediate area where the cladding is fixed to the timber framework (usually in homes with no cavity system), yet the same piece of timber is perfectly dry closest to the gib board side. Leaky home specialists will usually investigate through the cladding side on the home to get a conclusive result, but not all vendors are going to let you penetrate the cladding with invasive testing as part of your pre purchase due diligence.

No matter where you live, be it Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, or any home in NZ, a thermal imaging and moisture test should be seriously considered PRIOR to going unconditional on the property contract to detect any signs of moisture!

Do Moisture Inspection Results Get Published on My LIM Report?

Are you considering getting an infrared moisture inspection on your home?

Worried about the test results becoming public knowledge?

One of the main questions home owners have prior to getting their home tested for moisture levels, is “Will the results will be forwarded to any third party?”. Put your fears to rest if this is you, because that doesn’t happen with our company.

100% Guarantee: We do not discuss your results, nor do we forward your infrared inspection results to any third party (that includes real estate agents). The report is forwarded to you directly, and that’s where it stops… period. What you do with the report beyond that point is up to you.

This topic came up during a moisture inspection on a home in Auckland recently. After coming across one area that did show signs of moisture, the home owner was in a complete panic that their LIM report for the property was going to be blemished, and potential buyers for the home would end up finding out. Not the case at all.

All moisture inspections with our company are 100% confidential… guaranteed.

Pre Purchase Moisture Inspection Saves Another Unsuspecting Kiwi Home Buyer!

Can’t decide whether you should get a pre purchase moisture inspection before buying?

Some building inspectors could miss the hidden moisture issues within a building envelope if they don’t use an infra red camera!

One of my clients was just days from going unconditional on a home recently in West Harbour, and at the last moment decided to get a non-invasive moisture inspection on the home for a peace of mind on his families $800,000 purchase. This was a very wise decision, and here’s what he had to say about it….

$800,000 that was what we had signed up on, it was a huge 5 bedroom house we were going to buy.
Dean’s very professional and prompted service saved us from buying this property which was a leaky home. Nearly every room had a leak or excessive moisture. We can’t thank him enough and every home buyer no matter how much they like the house must get this company in to do the thermal imaging. It may save them hundreds of thousands of dollars like they did for us and stress that would of come with it. The house was checked on the 2/07/08.” John S – West Harbour

The point here is that no matter how great the home looks (like this one in West Harbour), you can’t be too careful when investing large sums of money on a home purchase. John almost got caught bigtime! Can you imagine the stress this would have caused within the family long-term?? Please remember that a thermal imaging camera can see what no human can see (building inspectors included), so at least investigate the option of an infra red scan of your future home, because it’ll be to late once the deal is done.

Moisture Inspections

Moisture inspections in NZ are certainly saving families from financial & health risks when buying a home!

Have you had your home tested for moisture levels lately?

We specialise in moisture inspections using an infrared camera (to detect signs of hidden moisture behind walls), and a non-invasive moisture testing machine. Please note that we do not need to damage walls or any part of your house to find signs of moisture.

Yesterday we inspected a home north of Auckland that felt damp from the very moment we walked in. After conducting the moisture inspection, the results told the story… the home owners bedroom was surrounded by moist walls! The reason the lady called us in the first place was because she was finding it hard to sleep in one of the rooms of the house. She said that each morning she found it was getting harder and harder to breathe then normal. Since recognising it may be an ‘unexplained’ issue in the bedroom, she’s been sleeping in another room, and waking up feeling fine as a result.

Moisture inspections only take 1.5 -2 hours, and can make all the difference to your families health.

Has someone in your home got unexplained health problems?

Contact us for an infrared moisture test on your home today! 

Monolithic Cladding Moisture Test – Leaky Building?

Are you considering buying a home with monolithic cladding?

Do you own a home with monolithic cladding?

Being in the business of testing homes and building for signs of moisture, I really can not stress enough the importance of getting a moisture test (in addition to a building inspection) before going unconditional on a property deal. One of todays inspections further confirms my thoughts…

A young couple called me this morning in a mad rush to get a moisture inspection on a property they have under contract. The lady said it was built in 1996 and has monolithic cladding. Before I continue, it’s important to note that not all monolithic cladding homes are leaky buildings… it’s just the last 3 homes i’ve inspected with this cladding have shown very high non-invasive moisture readings on walls that look immaculate to the human eye. It’s also important to note there are homes that aren’t made of monolithic that are leaky homes.

monolithic cladding

See this photo here. The moisture reading is well above what we are looking for… and it wasn’t just in this one place, there were readings like this all over the north facing wall of this place!

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what type of cladding your home has, it can still leak if areas such as window joinery or the roof are showing signs fatique.

The couple I did this test for today said “Phew… we were about to put our life savings into that home”

Take your time and go through the motions… and don’t blame anyone else but yourself if you short-cut the logical pre purchase process and get caught out buying a lemon.

NZ website has further info about cladding types and risks here

 Contact us for a free quote today.


Testing & Measuring Moisture Content in Your Walls and Ceiling

How do you test or measure the moisture content in your wall or ceiling?

Can you do it yourself?

The answer here is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes – If you are willing to invest the amount of money needed for the correct moisture testing equipment and the training needed to interpret what the readings actually mean. In addition, you need to have an idea of what additional +/- % of the reading you need to allow for based on the type of materials you are reading directly off. There are also many other contributing factors you need to allow for when moisture testing. Do you know a false reading when you see one?

No – If you don’t have the correct type of moisture testing equipment in your tool box already, then you may find it’s not a very wise investment to make unless you are starting a long term business that requires this type of equipment.

In summary, it’s only logical that you would hire someone that already has this type of equipment ready to go. This could be compared to saying “Should I buy a car, or would it be cheaper to buy all the equipment and get trained on how to make my own?”. If you plan to make 200 cars, then it may be viable. Testing the moisture content in your home is no different… if it’s a one off test, there is no possible way it makes sense to buy and be trained to use the moisture testing equipment.

We can perform a moisture content test on your home and be done within 1.5 – 2 hrs. Contact us today for a free quote.