Whether you are installing brand-new drywall or checking the existing drywall in a structure that has been compromised by moisture, you want to be sure you are accurate and thorough in how you take readings.
When drywall gets wet, or has absorbed too much moisture, it loses its structural integrity and becomes soft and weak - not adjectives that anyone wants associated with their walls. Another risk with too much moisture is mold. Moldy walls or moldy drywall is not only unsightly, but dangerous.
In order to be sure that your pre-existing or new drywall is in good shape, it’s vital for it to have the proper level of moisture. The most efficient way to ensure that your drywall is fit for installation or safe to keep is with correct use of a top-quality moisture meter.
What Level of Moisture is Safe?
Most houses have varying levels of humidity up to 50%, so moisture levels in drywall can vary from home to home. While relative humidity can have some effect on moisture levels, drywall is considered to have an appropriate level of moisture if it has a moisture content of between 5 and 12%.
Even a reading of up to 17% means that the drywall is salvageable, but any moisture level above 17% tells us that the drywall has been compromised and will need to be replaced, or cannot be used.
Checking for Moisture First
Before you use your moisture meter, give the drywall a visual once-over. Is the drywall discolored or crumbling? Is there a musty smell to it? If any of these signs are apparent, you can probably guess that the drywall has been exposed to too much moisture, and is maybe even beginning to grow mold that can be harmful to your home and your family.
This process of checking moisture is not an exact science, however. Issues as apparent as discoloration or crumbling mean that the drywall has gone unchecked, and has already experienced a prolonged exposure to moisture.
Because of this, even if drywall seems like it’s dry and structurally intact at first glance, it’s important to use a moisture meter to be absolutely certain that the drywall is safe to use (or safe to remain in its place), so you can catch water or moisture damage before its effects are visible to the eye and prevent a larger catastrophe.
Using a Moisture Meter
Kett offers several various kinds of moisture meters that have the capacity to take accurate readings of drywall, including several near-infrared and universal moisture meters (all of which be used for many, many purposes beyond drywall), but we also recommend our Advanced Instant Concrete Moisture Meter, which has calibrations specifically for use in taking readings of drywall. The upside of the near-infrared and concrete moisture meters is that they are non-destructive: meaning they will not leave any unsightly holes in your drywall with each test.
In order to use the moisture meter accurately, first check to ensure that it is properly calibrated for use in testing drywall. An improper calibration will give you an inaccurate reading. When you are taking readings, be sure to take readings in multiple areas around the affected area, or throughout the entire sheet of drywall, if you’re planning to install it.
If you are testing the moisture content of pre-existing drywall, or drywall that has already been installed, it’s not only important to test in multiple areas for the most accurate reading, but also because multiple readings give you an idea of the full extent of any damage that has occurred.
Some drywall can be saved, if the moisture content is below 17%, and so being able to focus remediation on the entire affected area ensures that the damage doesn’t spread, and that the drywall is saveable. Moisture spreads through drywall, so catching it early keeps the moisture from affecting other areas and causing further damage.
Still have questions about which moisture meter to use or how to check drywall for moisture? At Kett, we are passionate about helping you find the perfect moisture meter for you and just as passionate about ensuring you feel confident in using it. Contact us today to see how we can help you!