Concrete Testing: Be Prepared for the Right Results

construction worker with gloves and hardhatPreviously published by ProInstaller Magazine

Chuck Noll, the legendary Hall of Fame coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, once remarked, “Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing.” In winning four Super Bowls, he always assumed that proper preparation would drive his team’s success. And he was right.

Moisture testing, conducted before the installation of the finished floor over a concrete slab, is no different than football in this sense. Prepare properly and you will minimize the risk of a moisture-related flooring disaster. So here are several vital tips to help you better prepare for your next flooring job.

Know the Job Parameters

When it comes to testing moisture in concrete, make sure you are clear about the contract for the flooring job. You want to be sure you’ll be working under parameters that set you up for success. What moisture test is being specified for the job? Who will be doing the moisture testing prior to the flooring installation? Will you do the testing, or is this to be performed by an independent party? Or someone else?

Once you’re clear about the parameters related to testing the slab’s readiness for the floor installation, if the entire situation doesn’t feel comfortable at the outset, you may want to consider respectfully declining and walking away. Trust your instincts.

Gather the Right Tools and People for the Job

Rapid RH L6If you are to be the one doing the moisture testing, do you have the right tools and manpower on hand? You’ll want to employ the scientifically proven in situ relative humidity (RH) test method for concrete slabs. And this means having properly calibrated NIST-traceable RH sensors, such as the Rapid RH L6 by Wagner Meters. For ensuring data integrity, consider using a mobile device app that makes data recording and reporting seamless and easy. And when drilling your test holes, an SDS hammer drill is an ideal tool for the job.

You’ll want to be sure that testing is to be done per the guidelines of the ASTM F2170 standard for RH testing. Find out who will be doing the test (if not you) and are they well versed in the proper protocols of this specific test method? You want complete assurance that the test results will be reliable. While RH testing is not rocket science, be aware that when the people performing the test aren’t properly trained, the likelihood of misleading results goes way up. Programs and courses for getting the right training are offered by organizations such as the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI).

Ensure Good Communication at the Outset

Construction Workers Shaking HandsDo what you can to ensure good communications with the stakeholders, including the general contractor, architect, site owner, and perhaps even the end-user. Verify that all the essential information has been gathered prior to moisture testing. Is the age of the structure known, as well as the slab pour date and depth? Do you know if a vapor retarder was installed under the slab and is still intact? Do special conditions exist, such as buried metal or fiber optics? Does the slab include any corrugated pan decking? Or any other conditions that might affect the RH testing protocol?

If vital pieces of information are missing, do not proceed until informational interviews or other means are employed to get that information.

Cover All Important Bases

Finally, when you will be on the job site to perform RH testing, make sure you’ve also covered these important bases:

  • Come prepared with personal protective equipment as needed;
  • Schedule the testing according to how many tests will be conducted, and maintain a test timeline consistent with the expected or desired completion date;
  • Monitor job site ambient conditions beforehand using an onsite data logger to be sure you will meet the service condition requirements of the ASTM F2170 standard;
  • Come fully prepared to maintain accurate and complete recordkeeping of your test conditions, test methods, and test results;
  • Above all, make sure the testing is done in a sound manner with people who know and understand the ASTM F2170 guidelines.

You know instinctively that success on a flooring job does not just happen. It happens because you’ve done your homework. The same goes for concrete moisture testing. Be sure the job’s parameters will set you up for success. Then be sure the necessary resources are on hand, especially in terms of using the right tools and the right people. Use certified moisture testing technicians when you can. And be sure good lines of communication are established to gather all essential information.

Don’t leave anything to chance! Always remember proper preparation is vital to your success on every job.

For more information about concrete moisture testing and how to be sure you’ve got the right tools for the job, give us a call at (541) 291-5123.

Last updated on March 16th, 2020

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