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How we detect water damage

The extent of water damage is not as easy to detect as many would think. While a wall or floor may look dry doesn’t necessarily mean it is. At Sincerely Yours, Inc. we use different kinds of meters to determine how wet (or dry) a surface is. The ways we determine this is by thermal imaging, non-penetrating meters and pin-type meters.

Thermal imaging

Most, if not all, of us have seen videos of night time vision goggles the military uses or that the police use when tracking down a criminal on the run. In the restoration business we use thermal imaging as well.

This technology detects radiation or differences in temperature that is emitted by an object. Warm objects will appear white (or red if using a color camera) while cooler objects will appear black (or blue). In the restoration industry if a material has absorbed water the materials surface will appear dark. If a material has a normal moisture content than the material will have a gray or lighter color than the wet material next to it. The cool surface appears dark due to the rate of evaporation, much like getting out of a pool or a shower – you feel cooler due to the water evaporating off your skin.

IMPORTANT: Remember, a thermal imaging camera does NOT tell you if a material is wet – only if there is a difference in temperature. You must use a penetrating or non-penetrating meter
to verify if the material has excessive moisture content or if it is dry.

taking moisture readings with a pin-type meter

A Sincerely Yours, Inc. technician takes moisture readings with a pin-type meter during a recent water damage restoration job.

Water Meters

While this tool saves a tremendous amount of time, it is not capable of verifying if a material actually has excessive moisture content (MC). The thermal imaging (or infrared camera) works purely off temperature differentials. The most accurate way to determine if a material is wet is to use a moisture meter.

There are two (2) types of moisture meters a professional restoration contractor will use:

  • Pin-type meter (also referred to as a penetrating meter)
  • Non-destructive meter (known as a non-penetrating meter)

While both these meters measure the MC of a material, they both have their distinct advantages and disadvantages. We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each meter type in the future.