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  1. #1
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    Default Moisture meter -Stucco

    I'm looking for a pin type moisture meter to test sheathing behind stucco. What is your experience with these and what should I look for and price. Thanks. I have a pin type moisture meter for interior walls but am interested in the type where you drive holes in the stucco and then insert the longer pins. Is that the best way to go? Would appreciate any advice.

    Well I did some searching on this site and it looks like putting holes in stucco to insert probes is not a great idea although I think it is done a lot this way. I always defer to a specialist when I find signs of moisture damage behind stucco but am finding that this is a big expense for my clients in addition to the cost for my inspection.

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    Last edited by Tom Rees; 05-05-2016 at 07:45 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rees View Post
    Would appreciate any advice.

    Well I did some searching on this site and it looks like putting holes in stucco to insert probes is not a great idea ...
    Tom,

    Poking holes through stucco is worse than "not a good idea" - it is a really bad idea.

    I always defer to a specialist when I find signs of moisture damage behind stucco ...
    I recommend volunteering to go with the expert you recommend so you can see what they do and how they are doing it, and, hopefully, they are doing more than poking holes through the stucco to get to the sheathing - the correct way is quite involved and, ...

    ... but am finding that this is a big expense for my clients in addition to the cost for my inspection.
    ... it is not inexpensive - even if you were to do it (provided you were to do it the 'right way').

    Do you take appliances apart to see why they are not working? That is what you would be doing with stucco - 'taking it apart' ... of course, you would then have to 'put it back together' - drainage plane, bond breaker, metal lath, stucco, and, yes, painting it afterward.

    I recommend going with the specialist when they go out there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Are you crazy, who is feeding you this non-sense? You can't go poking holes in stucco in a property that neither you nor your client own. Especially on the outside.
    My recommendation is that you evaluate what the point to all this is. You want to provide an add on service to increase revenue, you want to provide more info, its a sales gimmick? Why would you take on a liability like this?
    If you want to provide a service, buy the Tramex wet wall detector. No need to make holes. Its what the EIFS guys around here all us. Used +/-$1000. New quite a bit more for the kit.
    If you just want 'the option' you can get the long wall pin attachments for various MM like the Delmhorst. This would allow you to get into the wall at the interior say from a crappy wall corner, open trim corner or even poke it through the drywall and then putty the hole. Numerous possibilities.
    You might want to consider getting more familiar with stucco itself so that you know the problem signs to look for, how to evaluate and advise the client rather than getting into something that could end up more problematic
    If its old stucco, problem signs or water trails should be fairly obvious. If its new stucco, EIFS, they are pretty much screwed if the caulk joints look like they've been open for a while and there are minimal soffits.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Never Mind.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    While not part of a home inspection, many home inspectors and others perform invasive moisture testing like this. It is the only practical method of inspecting stucco. It is a very common practice in many areas. In my area and many others there are huge problems with masonry stucco on frame construction. The Tramex meter mentioned cannot be used because of the wire lath.

    I don't do much of this testing, but when I do I use a Delmhorst meter. I don't recall the model, but it is a popular model.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    ABSOLUTELY NO HOLES should be poked through the drainage plane which backs up the stucco.

    If one is actually reading the moisture content of the sheathing, which is behind that drainage plane, then they have violated that drainage plane.

    No depth reading moisture meter will work because of the metal lath, besides, the stucco itself can and does absorb moisture and even if there was no metal lath, the stucco itself would likely show a reading.

    Behind the metal lath should be a bond breaker layer (typically, the paper on paper-backed metal lath) - the bond breaker layer can be penetrated as it is not critical for that purpose, its purpose is to not permit the stucco to bond to the drainage plane.

    Behind the bond breaker layer is the drainage plane - poke holes in that and, if there is no current leakage ... there will be because you just violated the drainage plane.

    A pin type moisture meter needs to break through that drainage plane to get to the sheathing before it can read the moisture content of the sheathing - the problem is penetrating through that drainage plane to get to the sheathing.

    Even if one could safely get through the drainage plane without making holes through it (explain how you would accomplish that??), the drainage plane is likely moist, and if the moisture meter pins are touching the drainage plane, the moisture meter is reading the moisture on the drainage plane too (or maybe 'only'), not just the moisture in the sheathing (and maybe not reading any moisture in the sheathing, just the drainage plane).

    Basically speaking (not all steps are addressed). the proper way is to ... use a hole saw with the starting guide drill bit extended just enough to start the hole and guide the hole saw, once the hole saw has started into the stucco, retract the centering drill bit to be flush with the hole saw and drill in a little deeper, then retract the centering drill bit so it is behind the hole saw cutting edge, and cut deeper - being careful to only cut to the metal lath, not beyond it so you don't hole saw out the drainage plane (at this time).

    You now have a sample plug of the stucco and metal lath ... and a hole to work through for any other work.

    If you need to get to the sheathing, you will need to slit and open the drainage plane in such a manner that will allow you to insert is repair for the drainage plane to keep allowing any drainage do drain, shingle fashion, down and over your sample hole. If you cannot do that, you are causing a problem where there might not be a problem.

    Of course, though, if the sheathing is gone (rotted), no big deal, that whole area of stucco needs to be removed to get to the sheathing. The problem for repairing the core sample comes into play when you find that the sheathing is not gone.

    If the sheathing is not gone, you will need to properly patch the drainage plane, the bond breaker, install a piece of metal lath, stucco the core hole up, then paint the area.

    Now, if one willy-nilly makes holes for a moisture meter and the sheathing is gong - no biggie - the sheathing needs to come off anyway.

    However, if one makes those holes and is actually reading the moisture in the drainage plane and reports it as wet sheathing - and the stucco is removed to reveal ... not bad sheathing ... 'Lucy, you got some 'splainin to do'.

    Fortunately (for the inspector, but unfortunately for the owner) the likelihood of finding bad sheathing is fairly high.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    There are 2 basic types of moisture meters.
    1: Pin.
    2: Pinless.
    I have been testing for moisture content, saturation, in objects for some time.

    1: Pin type or as many like to say, destructive testing.
    %MC electrical resistance between the tips.
    There are times when the stucco or other layered veneer allow penetration.
    When there is an access point. Like EIFS, penetrate at an upward angle into the opening. Missing mortar. Failed missing caulk or seals.

    I use 6.5" probes on a Delmhorst TechCheck Plus.
    It also reads %MC pin less or non destructively.

    Pinless or non invasive moisture meters operate on electrical impedance.
    Depth of penetration is most useful.
    It is hard at best or impossible most times to get an accurate reading if the surface is not smooth.

    I use a Tramex MRH III

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    ABSOLUTELY NO HOLES should be poked through the drainage plane which backs up the stucco.

    If one is actually reading the moisture content of the sheathing, which is behind that drainage plane, then they have violated that drainage plane.

    No depth reading moisture meter will work because of the metal lath, besides, the stucco itself can and does absorb moisture and even if there was no metal lath, the stucco itself would likely show a reading.

    Behind the metal lath should be a bond breaker layer (typically, the paper on paper-backed metal lath) - the bond breaker layer can be penetrated as it is not critical for that purpose, its purpose is to not permit the stucco to bond to the drainage plane.

    Behind the bond breaker layer is the drainage plane - poke holes in that and, if there is no current leakage ... there will be because you just violated the drainage plane.

    A pin type moisture meter needs to break through that drainage plane to get to the sheathing before it can read the moisture content of the sheathing - the problem is penetrating through that drainage plane to get to the sheathing.

    Even if one could safely get through the drainage plane without making holes through it (explain how you would accomplish that??), the drainage plane is likely moist, and if the moisture meter pins are touching the drainage plane, the moisture meter is reading the moisture on the drainage plane too (or maybe 'only'), not just the moisture in the sheathing (and maybe not reading any moisture in the sheathing, just the drainage plane).

    Basically speaking (not all steps are addressed). the proper way is to ... use a hole saw with the starting guide drill bit extended just enough to start the hole and guide the hole saw, once the hole saw has started into the stucco, retract the centering drill bit to be flush with the hole saw and drill in a little deeper, then retract the centering drill bit so it is behind the hole saw cutting edge, and cut deeper - being careful to only cut to the metal lath, not beyond it so you don't hole saw out the drainage plane (at this time).

    You now have a sample plug of the stucco and metal lath ... and a hole to work through for any other work.

    If you need to get to the sheathing, you will need to slit and open the drainage plane in such a manner that will allow you to insert is repair for the drainage plane to keep allowing any drainage do drain, shingle fashion, down and over your sample hole. If you cannot do that, you are causing a problem where there might not be a problem.

    Of course, though, if the sheathing is gone (rotted), no big deal, that whole area of stucco needs to be removed to get to the sheathing. The problem for repairing the core sample comes into play when you find that the sheathing is not gone.

    If the sheathing is not gone, you will need to properly patch the drainage plane, the bond breaker, install a piece of metal lath, stucco the core hole up, then paint the area.

    Now, if one willy-nilly makes holes for a moisture meter and the sheathing is gong - no biggie - the sheathing needs to come off anyway.

    However, if one makes those holes and is actually reading the moisture in the drainage plane and reports it as wet sheathing - and the stucco is removed to reveal ... not bad sheathing ... 'Lucy, you got some 'splainin to do'.

    Fortunately (for the inspector, but unfortunately for the owner) the likelihood of finding bad sheathing is fairly high.
    Jerry, With this process you drill into the sheathing and then probe a bit deeper. The pins are insulated except for the ends to minimize the chance that you will get a false reading. When finished the holes are caulked. If the person is doing this correctly the caulk should go all the way to the sheathing. I have done forensic work where stucco was removed from many buildings one to two years after testing was performed. I have not seen a problem caused by these holes.

    This is typically performed at dozens of locations. The small holes are well hidden by the caulk. Larger holes would be a much more involved process for drilling and patching. This is usually performed on a seller's house. The process is invasive, but cannot be too invasive. With remediation costs in the $100,000 to $200,000 range on many houses this method has become standard practice.

    When I do forensic work to confirm problems or document causes I often remove areas of stucco, then patch the moisture barrier and replace the piece that was removed (with caulk around the edges). This is generally temporary because in most cases by the time I get called in its likely that stucco replacement is going to be done in the near future.


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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    This is typically performed at dozens of locations. The small holes are well hidden by the caulk. Larger holes would be a much more involved process for drilling and patching. This is usually performed on a seller's house. The process is invasive, but cannot be too invasive. With remediation costs in the $100,000 to $200,000 range on many houses this method has become standard practice.

    When I do forensic work to confirm problems or document causes I often remove areas of stucco, then patch the moisture barrier and replace the piece that was removed (with caulk around the edges). This is generally temporary because in most cases by the time I get called in its likely that stucco replacement is going to be done in the near future.
    Not using IR?

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by ROBERT YOUNG View Post
    Not using IR?
    Robert,

    IR only tells you 'where' moisture may be (within the wall area side-to-side and top-to-bottom).

    IR does not tell you 'where' the moisture is (from the surface back to the sheathing).

    While IR is a very good tool, like all tools, it has its limitations. Every try to use a 3/4" box end wrench on a 1/2" nut or a 1" nut? Doesn't do much good for either (except maybe for banging on it to knock some rust loose ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Jerry,

    You have the patience of a saint!


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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rees View Post
    I'm looking for a pin type moisture meter to test sheathing behind stucco. What is your experience with these and what should I look for and price. Thanks. I have a pin type moisture meter for interior walls but am interested in the type where you drive holes in the stucco and then insert the longer pins. Is that the best way to go? Would appreciate any advice.

    Well I did some searching on this site and it looks like putting holes in stucco to insert probes is not a great idea although I think it is done a lot this way. I always defer to a specialist when I find signs of moisture damage behind stucco but am finding that this is a big expense for my clients in addition to the cost for my inspection.
    delmhorst bd & tramex pro have been the standard for years
    if you ever work with or talk to Leavitt tell him hi

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
    Commercial-Residential-Construction-EIFS-Infrared Thermography
    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Robert,

    IR only tells you 'where' moisture may be (within the wall area side-to-side and top-to-bottom).

    IR does not tell you 'where' the moisture is (from the surface back to the sheathing).
    ).
    It would be interesting to have Jim Saffin here.
    I agree a combination of tools helps me.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    An IR camera should only be used following ASTM protocol. If not the results can not be trusted. Jerry when drilling a core hole how do you determine when you have gone through the lath and stop there? I've drilled many core holes and would not be able to tell when I have gone through the lath. The type of inspection everyone is talking about is called a Certified Stucco Inspection and is performed following the protocol as established by EDI. If you are not familiar with the methods prescribed by EDI you should not be performing a certified stucco inspection.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    The grinding away resistance of the hole saw changes slightly (more resistance) when it meets the metal lath, and when the bond breaker spins with the stucco and metal lath, the resistance drops.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Robert, not sure what you are referring to. The ASTM protocol states that when performing a thermal scan on a masonry clad structure the area must a full day of thermal loading and the scan should be done 8 hrs. after sundown. This makes perfect sense when you understand thermal capacity of different materials. I do understand the whole thing with the patent trolls but that should not keep anyone from performing proper inspections with an infrared camera. I see it to often down here and always dispute there findings (when moisture probing is done there findings are always wrong). This makes me wonder how many inspections are done where the inspector uses an infrared camera wrong and reports no moisture.

    Jerry i use a diamond tip hole saw for doing core samples and it doesn't slow down for anything.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley frost View Post
    Robert, not sure what you are referring to. The ASTM protocol states that when performing a thermal scan on a masonry clad structure the area must a full day of thermal loading and the scan should be done 8 hrs. after sundown. This makes perfect sense when you understand thermal capacity of different materials. I do understand the whole thing with the patent trolls but that should not keep anyone from performing proper inspections with an infrared camera. I see it to often down here and always dispute there findings (when moisture probing is done there findings are always wrong). This makes me wonder how many inspections are done where the inspector uses an infrared camera wrong and reports no moisture.

    Jerry i use a diamond tip hole saw for doing core samples and it doesn't slow down for anything.
    Sorry everyone.
    Rant is down.

    Stanley, looking up the ASTM Stucco moisture intrusion assessment protocol I ran across an ASTM test method were HomeSafe was mentioned in the article or document.
    HomeSafe Inspection, a Mississippi company that has several patents covering various uses of infrared cameras and were threatening and suing home inspectors using infrared cameras.
    I ranted and do apologize to everyone here.
    I will find the article.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Thank you, Ray.
    Very much appreciated!
    The Infrared Industry was turned on its head by Kevin S.
    Hopefully it all will end well.

    Last edited by ROBERT YOUNG; 10-12-2016 at 01:58 PM.
    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    As for R&D. I feel it has been hamstrung.
    Even the infrared giants did not want to approach Kevin Seddon's false claims for IR R&D for moisture intrusion assessments utilizing infrared technology.
    From assessing termites in wood to energy audits and beyond. Wow, it boggles the imagination.

    Thanks, Nick.
    InterNACHI lawsuit against HomeSafe and Kevin Seddon (personally): https://www.nachi.org/documents2012/I...vin-Seddon.pdf

    InterNACHI motion to pierce HomeSafe's corporate veil to include Kevin Seddon (personally) as a defendant:https://www.nachi.org/documents2012/I...orate-veil.pdf

    Best of luck buddy.
    We are all rooting for you!
    Even the one's that did not defend your first actions by protecting our members as well as anyone that wanted to be kept harmless. The window was left open for anyone that wanted protection.
    Many owe you and apology.

    Robert Young's Montreal Home Inspection Services Inc.
    Call (514) 489-1887 or (514) 441-3732
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley frost View Post
    Jerry i use a diamond tip hole saw for doing core samples and it doesn't slow down for anything.
    It does if you are not just 'drilling away' - you should be able to feel the differences, and, when the plug breaks free and spins with the hole saw you should be able to fee that difference - the plug inside the hole saw will typically break loose of the surrounding stucco and spin with the hole saw when the metal lath is cut through as the metal latch is typically almost back at the bond breaker paper ... the drill's rpm should rev up when the plug breaks loose and spins.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Thumbs up Re: Moisture meter -Stucco

    I would recommend the survey master non invasive pin pad probe kit.


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