Q&A: “Will you be checking for moisture during the home inspection?”


“Will you be checking for moisture during the home inspection?”

Yep, that’s a common question asked by homebuyers during the scheduling process. The correct answer is Heck Yes. If I were limited to only doing one single thing during a home inspection, nothing else, it would be checking for moisture. When I teach first-time homebuyer classes, I like to joke that the #1 problem we find with houses is this horribly damaging stuff called Dihydrogen Monoxide. 

Aka water. Water problems are the most pervasive issues that we find, whether it be from roof leaks, frost in the attic, ice dams, plumbing leaks, wet basements, or water intrusion at the walls, water issues are huge.

Looking for moisture

The most basic way of finding moisture is to simply look for it. We begin this process when we pull up to the home. We think about where water goes after it hits the roof, and we focus on the areas that get really wet. They always fail first. I’ve probably said this a thousand times: Focus on the areas that will fail first. That’s my mantra. I’ve blogged about this many times.

And that’s just to start. After we identify the areas that will be the most problematic, we focus on those areas. Sometimes it’s thinking about wet basement issues, sometimes it’s leaky windows, sometimes it’s water intrusion at the siding. We look for signs of water in all of these areas.

Testing for moisture

The two most difficult places to identify water issues are finished basements and exterior walls. Those are two places where we absolutely can’t guarantee that we’ll find water, but we sure try.

For wet basement issues, we think about where water might be an issue and we poke, prod, and pull back the carpet in areas where we’re suspicious. We also use pin-probe moisture meters at carpet tack strips to make sure they’re not wet. Specifically, we use the Protimeter Surveymaster moisture meter.

Check out the video clip below to see how this is done.

Checking for moisture below carpet using a moisture meter during a home inspection:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=je_hTajFOIM

For walls, it depends. There’s not a whole lot that we can do during a home inspection to diagnose water intrusion at stucco homes. Stucco homes built since the late 1980’s have a high potential for water intrusion, so we recommend intrusive moisture testing on every one of those houses. Yes, intrusive moisture testing is a service that we offer, but we had been recommending this service long before we started offering it. We don’t recommend this service to ‘upsell’ our clients; we recommend it because there is no substitute for it, and none of us at Structure Tech would dream of buying a newer stucco home without this.

Oh, and for the record, stone veneer siding is stucco’s ugly stepbrother. It has all of the same problems as stucco, only worse.

We offer moisture testing on all other types of siding, but stucco and stone siding make up the bulk of our moisture testing services.

Source: Written by Reuben Saltzman for the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI); originally published in the Star Tribune.

Please contact RJ Home Inspection to schedule a professional home inspection for your home or business: 800-253-4402 or email info@rjhomeinspection.com