Survey your own building - Meters

Test for damp, dry rot, condensation, humidity and movement

Property Repair Systems - where you can talk to real people - 01626 331351

 

 

 

   
How to test damp walls using a damp meter

 

Quick DIY Master Class in Dampness and Condensation - become your own Expert in 1 hour! Buy our "Dampness in Buildings" reprinted book by the great expert Graham Coleman. A great read, short and to the point.

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Damp testing meters measure either electrical conductivity between two steel pins touched onto, or pressed into the plaster, masonry or timber, or they use a smooth contact head to measure electrical capacitance. Damp meters usually have two scales, one for timber and one for masonry, but some have only a simple 'reference' scale or a row of coloured lights. Dampness readings in wood usually covers a scale from 0 - 40% maximum (average softwoods are saturated at 28% - 32%) and damp readings in masonry (brick, stone, plaster, concrete) usually range from 0 - 5% maximum.

'Protimeter' is the trade name most familiar to the professional surveyor, but there are many other quality 'damp' meters on the market. Protimeters tend to be expensive, but have a range of special attachments and advanced features required by qualified dampness Surveyors and Chartered Building Surveyors.

Self Help - Diagnosing your damp:

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Test for Condensation

Test the walls of the building with our Condensation Test Kit. The small white condensation sensitive test strips are mounted on a special waterproof self adhesive backing.

To test, wipe the surface dry, then peel off the backing paper and stick the white card to the suspect surface. If condensation occurs the white strip will turn progressively blue - the longer the blue area the more condensation has been occurring. This forms a permanent record of the condensation - there is space on the card for location and date details.

 

Condensation Test Strip Cards - available singly and in boxes of 6.

Also, look for evidence of mold - usually 'black spot' - this indicates that you have Condensation forming on the coldest surfaces in the room. Unless you can increase ventilation and heating, consider using our Anti-Mold Paint Additive or Anti-Mould Emulsion Paint - guaranteed for 5 years!

If necessary, treat all plaster with the anti-mold treatment supplied with the paint and then redecorate.

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Measure the amount of moisture in the air - the Relative Humidity

Use our Home Humidity Meter - Hygrometer - to monitor the conditions in each affected room and use the Memory function to check the exact conditions overnight, the time when temperature falls and condensation is most likely. This meter helps you to control the conditions that cause condensation and to monitor the use of your heating, ventilation and dehumidification.

Available in standard and large display versions

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How to test damp walls and timber

 

USING A DAMP METER

Firstly, check the outside of the building for rainwater penetration - if the walls are absorbing moisture apply a water repellent - UltraProof - check your downpipes and gutters.

Click here to see the Data Sheet for the Damp Testing Meter

Click here to see a Quick Guide to understanding the readings from a Damp testing Meter - Front Page

Click here for Quick Guide Back Page

Damp testing meter - a sturdy conductivity meter, ideal for testing masonry (brick, stone, plaster) and timber (skirting boards, floors) to give an indication of 'relative' dampness. Always use meters to compare like materials, never quote readings as a true percentage moisture content - that requires Laboratory testing (ask us for help with our full Laboratory services).

Benefits are as follows;

  1. Pocket sized
  2. As used by the 'professionals'
  3. Battery powered
  4. Direct visual reading

Can also be used to test damp floors and new concrete floors.

(We also sell the Protimeter Range of products, including the Surveymaster. These are Professional instruments, starting at over £100 plus VAT for the basic model.)


USING A DAMP TEST STICK

Damp testing sticks are designed to change colour when there is dampness inside a wall or inside timber.

The small white tip will change to a blue colour - allow 14 days before first removing the stick.

The permanent change in colour allows you to prove that dampness exists in a building material.

Available in boxes of 1, 6 or 50 test sticks.

No Damp - white (left) Damp - blue (right)

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How to detect cold walls and cold spots

 

Wall temperature gun

The best way to quickly find the cold areas in a building. Compare readings for areas showing no signs of damage and see immediately the extent of the cold - point and click.

Hand held infra red temperature gun in action

Call 01626 331351 to discuss cold spot and cold bridge diagnosis with our friendly experts.

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Professional Damp Testing Meters - by Protimeter

 

Protimeter Mini

The Protimeter Mini can be used for making rapid moisture assessments in a wide range of building materials including wood, masonry, drywall, plaster and concrete. The instrument measuring pins are small and sharp which means measurements can be taken at the surface with virtually no mark left behind.

The numerical values represent the actual percent moisture content of wood (%MC) and the wood moisture equivalent (WME) of other materials. The Protimeter Mini can be used to determine if the fabric of a building is in a dry, borderline or damp condition.

When taking readings in awkward positions, the Protimeter Mini can be used with the moisture probe and lead, supplied as standard with the instrument.

The optional Protimeter Hammer Electrode can also be used with the Protimeter Mini for determining moisture gradients in wood.

Optional Deep Wall Probes can be used with Protimeter Mini to measure the moisture level at depth in a wall, irrespective of the surface condition. Deep Wall Probes are very useful accessories when investigating the cause of the moisture problems within buildings.

Call 01626 331351 to discuss Protimeters with our friendly experts.

Click here for Wood Calibration Chart

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Protimeter Surveymaster - advanced damp tests

 

Protimeter Surveymaster - The Dual Mode Moisture Meter.

The NEW Surveymaster incorporates two modes of operation - search and measure (non-invasive and pin type). Search and measure enable the user to distinguish surface moisture from sub-surface moisture, essential information when trying to establish the extent and cause of a moisture problem.

Surveymaster is a moisture meter that displays the moisture level values on a digital display along side a scale of colour coded lights. This digital moisture meter helps in accurate building material moisture measurement. This combined presentation of moisture measurement helps the user to map the extent of problems and monitor changes in condition precisely and reliably.

Call 01626 331351 to discuss Protimeters with our friendly experts.

Click here for Protimeter Data Sheet

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How to test walls with cracks for movement - use Tell Tales

 

Most buildings crack at sometime during their service life. Usually the cracks are of little consequence but they may be the first indication of a serious defect.

Monitoring the changes in crack width across a crack helps determine the cause of cracking and decide what remedial work should be specified.

 

How to Test for Crack Movement

A basic, calibrated Tell Tale shows any horizontal or vertical movement across a crack on a flat surface. The Tell Tale is pre-set at zero with transparent tape. The tape is cut after the Tell Tale is fixed across the crack, using screws in plastic plugs or epoxy adhesive (e.g. Araldite).

As the crack opens, or closes, the cursor moves relative to the calibration scale. You then log the opening or closing of the crack on the crack record sheet supplied.

Supplied with full instructions and a Crack Record Sheet.


Types of Tell Tale

Standard Tell Tale - as shown above. Held in the central start position, ready for fixing, with tape, which you simply cut with a knife once the unit is screwed or glued in place.

Tell Tale Plus - as above but with four pegs to locate the unit in the central, start position. You remove the four pegs once the unit is screwed or glued in place.

Corner Tell Tail - monitors horizontal and vertical movement across a crack in a corner. Use singly to monitor two dimensional movement, or use in pairs to monitor three dimensional movement. Reconfigure the Tell Tale components to monitor cracks between ceilings and walls or floors and walls.

Displacement Tell Tale - monitors horizontal and displacement movement where there is a “step” across a crack due to displacement or “out of plane” movement. The Tell Tale consists of three components. A base plate (not calibrated) a top plate (which is calibrated) and a graduated ruler. The ruler is not left on the gauge but is used to measure the relative movement in the two plates each time you test the situation.


Fixing Methods

Ideally the Tell Tales should be fixed with screws in rawlplugs and adhesive. If the test area is not hidden or private there is always the risk of tampering if fixed with screws alone.

On some surfaces there is no option but to use only adhesive. The adhesive must fully cure before the four plugs are removed (Plus Tell Tale) or the tape is cut (Standard). The time taken for the adhesive to cure will depend on the ambient temperature, but the Tell Tale must be held in position until the adhesive has hardened sufficiently for it to support the weight of the Tell Tale.

Some customers use the following technique to provide temporary support of the Tell Tale until the adhesive cures. In many instances the Blu Tack will support the Tell Tale long enough for the adhesive to harden.

1. Roll a piece of Blu Tack into a ball and squeeze it flat until it is about the size of a coin.

2. Press it on to the back of the Tell Tale on the white coated section.

3. Apply the adhesive at both ends of the Tell Tale and press it into position across the crack.

4. Do not remove the four plugs (Plus Tell Tale) or the tape is cut (Standard) until the adhesive is has hardened.


Will changes in temperature of the Tell Tales affect the readings?

The coefficient of thermal expansion is 6.8 x 10-5 cm/cm per degree Centigrade. This is applicable for the range of temperatures between –40 degrees C to +80 degrees C.

There are three factors that can affect the reading of the Tell Tale due to temperature changes. The coefficient of thermal expansion, the change in temperature and the relationship between the dimension of the Tell Tale and that of the building element being monitored. Because the dimensions of the Tell Tale is small when compared with the building element the effect of thermal expansion and contraction of the Tell Tale is usually insignificant.

Tell Tales have been used successfully throughout the world for many years, from the desert and tropical to the polar regions as well as the more temperate climates.


Why do I need to monitor the changes of width of a crack?

Cracks often appear in a building. They may be just hairline cracks and of little significance or they may the first sign of a serious defect. The crack may not increase in width and therefore would be static. However it may progressively increase in width over time. This progressive movement may suggest there is a serious defect in the foundations and/or the superstructure.

Monitoring and recording progressive changes in the width of the crack over time will confirm or otherwise the nature of the defect and assist with diagnosing the cause.

Sometimes cracks will open and then partially close, and then open again before partially closing again following a cyclic pattern of movement. Again monitoring and recording the changes of width over time and perhaps correlating the crack movements with external factors will assist with identifying the cause.

Monitoring in isolation to any other investigation will rarely provide sufficient information to fully diagnose the cause of cracks. But it will indicate how the building is deforming and the rate at which movement is occurring. The results of the monitoring are a vital ingredient for diagnosing the cause.

Because crack monitoring takes time, it is essential it starts at the earliest opportunity and continues throughout the period of inspections and investigations. In some instances it can be continued to validate the remedial work.

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How to detect Dry Rot

 

Dry rot detector - the best way to find 'active' dry rot, or to chart the edges of an attack.

Benefits are as follows;

  1. Change colour to show Dry rot blue to yellow
  2. Only require an 8mm diameter hole
  3. Quick fit and remove to view
  4. Can remain on test indefinitely

Available in boxes of 8, ready to use

Call 01626 331351 to discuss Dry Rot Diagnosis with our friendly experts.

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Summary

 

Mould growth is caused by Condensation forming on a cold surface or inside the building material where it is cold enough to reach the Dew Point.

Condensation is caused by high levels of moisture in the air condensing on the coldest surfaces in the room, often at night when the temperature falls.

Surfaces will be colder if they are damp - rising and penetrating dampness, blocked wall cavities or lack of them, can all increase dampness

Dampness can be caused by common defects, like blocked gutters overflowing, poor pointing, cracked external render.

Testing wood for moisture content - at over 18-20% wood can begin to rot


For immediate help (in office hours) ring our dedicated team of Experts - David, Angela or Kathy will help to diagnose your dampness problem FREE. Ring them on 01626 331351 or use our special CHECKLIST by clicking here.

Self Help - Diagnosing your damp:

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www.drywallandfloor.co.uk - how to fit plastic dimpled sheets to damp walls to provide a new, dry decorative surface.

www.dryrot.biz - how to cure and prevent Dry Rot

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www.joist-repair.co.uk - how to quickly repair joists and beams of any size

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www.propertyrepairsystems.co.uk - fire retardent paints, hygiene products, metal bracket manufacture, crack injection

www.timber.org.uk - systems of repair, with step by step methods

www.timber-repair.co.uk - how to repair timbers in buildings without wrecking the place

www.woodworm-info.co.uk - how to kill and prevent woodworm and death watch beetle