How to Use a Moisture Meter – 10 Easy Steps

Orion moisture meter familyIf you own a Wagner moisture meter, you have one of the best tools on the market for monitoring wood moisture on your job site. The IntelliSense™ technology designed into your meter yields quick and accurate readings of the moisture content (MC) in your materials. Here are the top 10 ways to make the most of your Wagner moisture meter.

1. Apply Pressure

Since your Wagner moisture meter is pin-less, you will lay it on top of the wood to get a reading. Tip number one to get the most from your meter is to put some pressure on the meter when you lay it on the wood. About three pounds of pressure is ideal for a good reading.

2. Wipe off Standing Water

Before taking wood moisture readings, wipe off any standing or visible water and allow the surface to dry for 60 seconds or more. Standing or visible water always results in inaccurate readings, regardless of the meter type. For example, pin moisture meters with non-insulated pins give highly exaggerated readings when the wood surface is wet. Even Wagner pinless moisture meters will read a bit higher than normal, though typically less than 3 to 4%. Once the wood has been wiped and allowed to dry, Wagner meters with IntelliSense™ are able to give accurate readings in less time than other meters. Also, be aware that water soaking into the wood will give a higher MC reading.

3. Use an Accurate Moisture Meter

Use the proper meter for the job. If you are working strictly with woods less than 1/4″ thick you will want the Orion® 920 or if you only use thicker stock the Orion 910 will be the right choice. For the best of both worlds, the Orion 930 has dual depth measurements for thick and thin stocks. If you require extended data collection capabilities for quality control, the Orion 940 and Orion 950 offers data analysis functions as well with the 950 connecting to Bluetooth® and containing a built-in temperature/humidity sensor. The right meter for the job will save you time and potential trouble down the road.

4. Consider the Subfloor

If you are measuring MC levels in installed flooring, the meter will probably pick up moisture in the subfloor. If the subfloor is made of wood products, this probably won’t skew the readings, but concrete will give a higher reading.

5. Beware of Metal

Never check the MC of a piece of wood lying on a metal table. Instead, hold it in the air to take a reading. The reason: Moisture meters are sensitive to anything conductive. Thus, taking a reading on a metal table or near any metal objects such as nails, staples, or metal studs renders the moisture meter ineffective, resulting in a false reading.

6. Make Sure Your Meter is Calibrated

Be careful with your meter. A Wagner moisture meter is calibrated at the factory, and although its extremely simple, re-calibrate the meter with the included On-Demand Calibrator. However, if you drop your meter, or it is accidentally submerged, it could be damaged. You should keep it on your belt loop or in the provided carrying case for protection.

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7. Keep Fresh Batteries on Hand

The batteries for your Wagner moisture meter are very long-lasting. However, it is always a good idea to keep spares with you. A quick switch of batteries on the job site will make a big difference in time-on-task.

8. Don’t Forget Your Manual

Keep the manuals handy. In addition to the operation manual, the Wagner moisture meter comes with another very useful manual that tells you the specific gravities for each wood you deal with. Be sure to check your manual to get the most from your meter. Both manuals fit nicely next to your meter in the protective carrying case.

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9. Keep Your Meter Dry

Be sure there is no condensation on the sensing plate of your moisture meter. Just as the surface you are measuring should be free of visible moisture, the sensing plate should be clear as well.

10. Consider Your Wood Materials

Don’t forget that your Wagner moisture meter can be used to measure MC levels in plywood and OSB. Use the section in your Species Adjustment Table to set your meter to read these materials.

There you have it – 10 ways to get the most from your Wagner moisture meter. These pointers will help you use your meter trouble-free for years to come.

Last updated on September 27th, 2022

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