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!