HOUSTON MOISTURE ASSESSMENT and REPORTING
Updated: Dec 30, 2019
A huge part of a Houston home inspector's job is to find out if moisture is coming into your home from the roof, walls, plumbing or high grade.
A knowledgeable experienced home inspector can always just use his eyes for signs of water penetration because products that aren't meant to resist water do show evidence during its slow decline.
In addition to our eyes, we use specialized tools to help us during a home inspection or mold assessment: They are:
1. Delmhorst BD2100 with or without 8" probes (used normally for invasive stucco inspections because they can reach into a wall cavity to touch the wall sheathing for moisture and density evaluation.
2. Tramex Moisture Encounter
3. FLIR infra-red B-200
Without these tools, it would be very difficult to find and PROVE that moisture is getting in. Home inspectors MUST have a minimum number of reliable, state-of-the-art tools.
Signs of moisture that affects wood is visible because wood, for example, takes in moisture by capillary action, trapping it within the cells and expanding them. Therefore, wood appears to be swollen, and if painted, will split the paint in order for moisture to escape.
When using a detector, such as a BD2100, the moisture would range between 13.1% (beginning of moisture) to 40% (saturation). The photo below tested 40% and was deteriorated and in need of replacement.
Wood flooring also show signs of having received moisture by "cupping" or "crowning" at the edges of each flooring plank, which is allowing moisture to escape. Sometimes so much moisture is underneath the flooring that the entire floor appears wavy!
The Tramex ready below shows 28% on this scale, which is almost saturation moisture. In the photo, the floor is next to a wall, which on the outside had extremely high grade. Every time it rains water backs up and into the wall cavity, then under the floor. The grade needs to be lowered.
Wall spaces, since they are dark and humid, will grow mold. The Delmhorst photo below shows mold growth on an wall space that has had the gypsum removed due to flooding. The wall is saturated at 6.4%(saturation starts at !% for the wood scale).
The FLIR Infra-red camera shows moisture as a different temperature than the surrounding walls - usually blue (cold) against a warmer background (red or yellow). An inspector also MUST confirm that the spots of color are moisture by using another meter. In the photo below, a classic blue circle on a ceiling is a definite sign that the shower in a second floor bathroom is leaking into the ceiling below. A plumber is needed at the minimum.
So as you can see, inspectors must have both the experience and the tools to detect moisture and then be able to place the proof of findings and remedies on an inspection report. To only do a visual report with no proof is not satisfactory.