Log homes are popular among some homeowners due to their rustic and countryside ambiance. However, the wood that makes up the foundation, floors and walls are prone to moisture, which can cause structural damage in the form of rot and mold. For log home owners, the following guide explains how to accurately measure the moisture content of their indoor property using a wood moisture meter.
Use the Right Meter
Be sure to use a moisture meter designated specifically for wood. There are also moisture meters for concrete, and some homeowners make the mistake of using this meter to measure wood moisture. There are, however, dual-purpose models that are able to provide readings for both materials.
Know How to Use the Meter Properly
The standard meter comes with two metal pins at the end. For an accurate reading, be sure to stab the pin all the way into the wood and in the direction of the grain. Moisture tends to reside in the wood's core, and failing to insert the needle all the way in may produce an inaccurate reading.
Meters also come in a pinless model. These are actually easier to use; simply set it on the floor or secure it to a wall, and it will produce a reading by transmitting low-frequency signals. Keep in mind, however, that these models typically produce a reading up to 1.5 inches into the wood. If the wood – particularly the flooring – is less than 1.5 inches thick, then the meter may end up producing a reading of the subfloor beneath the wood.
Replace Worn Pins
Pin meters come with insulation strips on the pins. Every time you stick the meter into the wood, some of the insulation is scraped away; this can lead to less accurate readings over time. Be sure to replace the pins regularly. A close observation of the pins is usually enough to tell if most of the insulation coating has been stripped away.
Take Measurements in Multiple Spots
Don't measure the wood in just two or three places in the home and assume that those readings represent the moisture level of the entire house. As a rule of thumb, take measurements every 100 square feet. For areas conducive to moisture, such as the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere where the pipes are running through the walls, take measurements every 50 square feet.
Document the Readings
Use a logbook or online spreadsheet to record all your readings. You can also snap a photo of the meter immediately after the reading. This way, you will know something is off if one area suddenly experiences a spike in readings.
Be Sure the Meter is Calibrated to the Specific Type of Wood
It's essential that you know the exact type of wood your home is made from. The standard meter is usually calibrated to a generic wood species, such as Douglas fir wood, or isn't calibrated at all. Most meters come with a chart that allows you to set the meter to the right calibrations for your specific wood type.
Know the Acceptable Moisture Content for Your Area
The wood's acceptable moisture content differs depending on your region's climate. A moisture content of around 9%, for example, is perfectly within range for a wet and high humidity climate, but is too high for a dry region. Know the average relative humidity of your geographic location to know what moisture content range is acceptable.
With the raw beauty of wood comes the additional responsibility of regular maintenance. Taking readings at periodic intervals is the first preventative step that ensures that the wood that makes up your log home retains its natural aesthetic appeal. Read more here.