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

Swollen or Bulging Skirting Board? Leak

One of the most common indicators of a leak is a swollen skirting board.

Commonly referred to as a ‘blowen skirting’.

The key is to find the leak source before it gets to the point of doing damage, but that’s not always possible. So where is it coming from in the first place?

The following thermal imaging photo shows you what I found during a house inspection in Sumner, Christchurch. In this case, the skirting was actually in tact and not showing any signs of swelling due to mositure , yet the thermo camera picked up the problem right away….

Dark area indicates hidden leak
Dark area indicates hidden leak

Wouldn’t you prefer to know this before buying the house!

This particular leak was actually coming from the roof, and running down the side of the window frame and showing itself at the bottom of the wall/skirting area. There was a cladding detail running around the perimeter of the house that was flat of top, so the water had no way of running off. The cause of the leak was a crack in the polystyrene cladding above this detail just below the roof line.

We find leaks and moisture… that’s all we do.

Finding a Water Leak and Tracking it to the Source

How to find a leak before calling a plumber!

Trying to find a leak around the home can be very frustrating and can get very expensive… especially if the leak is behind a wall, or a roof leak. A plumber can usually fix water leaks very quickly, but it’s the actual process to find the water leak that can really cost you big dollars!

When your paying a plumber, roofer or builder to find a leak, they may need to pull down multiple walls to ‘get a better idea’ of where the problem is, and to you, that could mean additional money going out of your pocket to replace the gib board/cladding, plus the painting and plaster work etc to get it all back up to scratch. So what if your plumber/builder is trying to find a leak, and ends up pulling down a wall in an area that has nothing to do with the leak source? It’s easy for someone to pull down a wall, or stick a screwdriver through to ‘test’ if an area has excess moisture, but i’m saying this kind of process to find a leak simply isn’t required. There’s a much faster and non-destructive way to go about it.

leak in ceiling

How to find a water leak in a non-invasive way: 

Leak detection by way of thermal imaging is the key to a fast, neat and tidy leak fix. Why? for starters, we can detect potential leaks penetrating your inside walls within minutes… with both our IR camera and our back up test with a moisture meter. Secondly, we can usually see where the leak is coming from, and where the leak damage ends. After viewing the infrared photos we take, your plumber or builder can go directly to the problem, and not have to tear down your walls in places that aren’t required… saving you money.

Quickest way to find a leak…

Detecting water leaks fast… that’s what we do. We are trained thermographers who specialise in leak & moisture detection using a high tech thermal imaging camera, and pinpointing potential problem areas in your home or office.

Need to find a leak fast? Contact us today!