Best Handheld Moisture Meters
The presence of moisture in drywall, wood or masonry can be and early or late indicator of mold’s presence. While not a direct mold test, handheld moisture meters are often used to pinpoint trouble areas by mold and water damage professionals and building inspectors alike.
There are several different types of moisture meters, and extreme variance in price depending on the technology. The most sophisticated are hand-held thermal imaging moisture meters which cost several hundred dollars. On the other end of the spectrum are pinned or pinless moisture meters.
The most sophisticated moisture meter on our list is the Flir MR277. This pinless moisture meter uses thermal imaging and advanced sensors to quickly find, identify, and document moisture problems.
Once a has been identified, its position can be pinpointed with a laser pointer. Then, using an accurate moisture reading can be made using either the MR277’s integrated pinless moisture sensor or a secondary pinned or pinless moisture meter.
One of the biggest advantages of a high-end thermal imaging moisture meter like this MR277 is that it takes care of many environmental readings automatically and without needing calibration. It’s built-in hygrometer is very accurate and in addition to finding and diagnosing moisture issues, it can also identify air leaks and insulation voids.
The unit also connects to other devices via bluetooth, further extending its capabilities. The downside? It’s expensive, with an MSRP over $1,500 although at retail it is closer to $1,300.
Accessory sensors and probes (not included)
- Baseboard Probe (MR09)
- Extension Pole (MR04)
- Hammer and Wall Cavity Probe Combo (MR08)
- Hammer Probe (MR07)
- Wall Cavity Probe (MR06)
- Ball Probe Moisture Sensor (MR12)
- Handheld Temperature/Humidity Sensor (MR11)
- Temperature / RH Sensor and Extension Assembly (MR01-EXT)
- Temperature and Humidity Sensor (MR13)
We think this is the best alternative to the MR277. Coming in at half the price (under $700), the MR160 Thermal Imaging Moisture Meter has many of the features of the pricier MR277.
You still get visual guidance to the moisture source, although it is without the laser accuracy. The MR160 also includes an integrated pinless moisture probe and a very good display.
Although not included, FLIR does offer several accessories including a Baseboard Probe (MR09), Hammer and Wall Cavity Probe Combo (MR08), Hammer Probe (MR07)
and Wall Cavity Probe (MR06), Ball Probe Moisture Sensor (MR12) and several pin sensors.
Wagner’s Orion 950 is as good as it gets for measuring moisture inside wood. Using a non-damaging pinless sensor, the 950 can accurately measure the presence of moisture at both 1/4″ and 3/4″ depth.
Use is simple, and calibration can be performed on-site. Material can be set to a variety of levels to target the specific wood species being measured. Species include softwood, hardwood, bamboo, MDF, plywood and OSB.
While the Wagner 950 is most often found in the toolkit of wood floor installers, it’s also used to detect moisture when mold is suspected.
While moisture detection is necessary to understand if there may be a presence of mold in drywall, Klein’s ET140 Moisture Meter is a good choice. It is not as accurate as Wagner’s meter above, but it does do a reasonable job.
Like the Wagner model, the ET140’s pinless design means that you won’t be patching drywall later if no moisture is present.
Electromagnetic field (EMF) technology performs the measurement which is displayed on a 9-stage moisture range LED readout.
The unit is good for up to 3/4 inch material depth (approximately 19mm). While most often used for detecting moisture in drywall, the manufacturer claims it is also capable of testing soft wood, hard wood and masonry.