Moisture Meters and Basement Questions

I am looking for some information on moisture meters and whether they will actually help in my home inspection on a house i am looking to purchase.

This is a 2 storey home with a finished basement in Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada. We generally get pretty cold winters. Not uncommon to get -10 celsius to -25 celsius. I wouldn’t say we get much rainfall relative to maybe Vancouver / Seattle. Although this year has been dry with little moisture.

The home was built in 2003 and had one problem 1-2 years ago with leakage through a poured basemnt wall. Here is the answer the sellers gave me and they did provide me with the receipts of the work to fix the problem.

"In September 2010 small amount of water was found on baseboard in corner of the main area of the basement. Company was called Sept 17 to examine the leak. Drywall was cut out to determine the location of the leak. Wet insulation found in area was taken out. Drywall was not affected since it was caught early. Company could not do the repair until December 2010. Drywall was left open. Repairs done by Company as per schedule A. Dug out around foundation and repaired by Company. I was told that it was honeycombing. Slope was adjusted around foundation. Water test could not be done in winter and had to wait until Spring.

Spring 2011 water test done. Discovered small leak next to original repair. Leak found in spare bedroom. Water damage on baseboard and insulation. Called Company and they did further repair on May 27, 2011. Water tests done on the north side of house (where repairs were completed). No other problems. Since that time it was continually monitored with no further water problems in the basement.

Insulation and baseboards replaced. Drywall replaced and painted. Bottom line, problem discovered early, researched best company to fix it and it was repaired. It was monitored and tested for a period of time before the interior items (drywall, baseboards, etc.) were fixed."

Importantly as well. The row of houses that the house i’m looking at backs onto a row of walkout basement homes. Theoretically, the walkout homes should have roof leaders on their homes but i’m asuming the walkout homes’ yards drain onto my property.

Anyone have any advice whether a moisture meter will help in my home inspection right now? If not is my story typical or is there anything that sets off red flags?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

There are two kinds of basements.

There are those that leak and those that will leak.

Once the basement begins to leak, it is a leaky basement. Temporary measures can be taken to lengthen the pause between leaks and the best of them come with a 10-year warranty since that is when they are anticipated to leak again.

“Lifetime” warranties are lies that imply that the contractor doing the work will be alive or in business at such future time that a future home owner dealing with the leak realizes that he had sold such a warranty and simply mean that … when the basement leaks again and you can successfully locate the contractor … he is obligated to plug the hole again, but at no additional charge.

Ultimately, the basement will leak again no matter what the moisture level might be, today. There is no tool on the market that will assure you of the impossible … that your basement will not leak.

John I can not say this strong enough ,Hire a home Inspector .
I do not care what your Back ground the Money you save is nothing to what a good Home Inspector can show you and Information he can give you .
Even if you are starting out as a Home Inspector ,people are usually blind when they are in love… Roy

"People are usually blind when they are in love… "

Well said, Roy. I had a lady who hired me to inspect a bank-owned home. During the entire inspection, she was explaining to me where all her furniture was going to go. The home was an absolute wreck. Even when I found that the garage attic was COMPLETELY full of mould, she was still set on getting the home. It was only when I showed her that the rest of the attic had been ON FIRE that she started to get cold feet about buying the home. :shock: :shock:

Gentlemen, thanks for the advice to date. I am definitely not blinded by the house. My wife and I really do like the home but as a civil engineer working in transportation and land development i am definitely under no illusion of the pitfalls nor am i a home inspector.

I have talked to one home inspector today who has told me that “all basement walls he inspects have cracks and how you fix the problem is the most important item”. After mentioning that the lots behind my wanted house are walkout basement lots he sort of cringed a bit as well.

As well today i have found out that the lot did not receive the final grading certificate. The house was built in 2003. Apparently the county here doesn’t check on things. Kind of ticked me off. This obviously sets off another red flag as who knows what kind of additional groundwater pressure (if any) these basement walls have been subject to.

James so are you saying that the best thing when buying a house is to have one with no leaks? Of course that would be great but you also seem to be saying that every home basement will leak eventually. I guess what i’m saying is would you recommend a buyer to purchase this 9 year old home knowing what has been fixed? Or would you say fix the problem (as these owners did) and expect a leak within 10 years.

Thanks for the responses to date.

I have done many inspections for various Engineers .
The last one was very unhappy that his wife had booked an inspection with me .
He showed how unhappy he was and complained constantly about how they had bought three homes and he was very satisfied .
1/2 way through the inspection his face changed and he started to listen and did not talk .
10 days later I got two long pages of Questions ,looked to me like he suddenly realized this home Inspector had some knowledge .
I wish you all the best ,Sorry Alberta is too far for me to go But I am sure there are some great local Home Inspectors who can help you .
Listen close to the hair on the back of your neck it usually makes the correct decision .

If you are looking for an inspector that can help you out in your area give Fritz a call. He is a wealth of knowledge and a great Inspector. I know him through AlbertaNachi and he did a peer reveiw on me for my CCHI.
Fritz G. Kamprath, CMI
A+ Authorized Home & Property Inspection Services, Ltd.
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
(780) 409-8099

I use to be a general contractor. If the foundation is built right it will never leak. Hardly nobody nowadays will spend the money and the time to do it right. It is like when you her all concrete cracks. If it is done right concrete will not crack.

Hence the problem James. And this house was built in 2003. It isn’t even the 2006-2008 period or what i like to call the “my 16 year old nephew works with me building homes” period. This just leads me to believe that 95% of homes in Alberta are crap.

Of course i could build the house myself if the developers ever sold public lots for sale but that is few and far between and either the lots are garbage or they’re $250,000 a shot. The inspection is on Wednesday but i am not sure what an inspector can add since 99% of the basement is finished. Hopefully he/she can shed some light on the outside. I’m not sure if a moisture meter will do in winter temperatures for leaks behind basement drywall.

Will thermal imaging do anything for my concerns? Or does that have more to do with heat loss?

John, I don’t recommend to a client whether or not he should buy a house. I simply report on its condition which is, in most cases, only one of several important factors that go into an informed decision to buy or walk away.

I do inform my clients that all basements will leak at some point in the life of the home and that all repairs to basement leaks are temporary.

If it only took 9 years for this home to begin to leak … I think it would be prudent on your part to expect the conditions to worsen and not to improve.

Finished bsmt…
A moisture meter won’t tell anyone if there is a crack(s) in basement wall(s), and won’t tell you on poured walls if there are 1 or more rod holes that are about to give way/leak etc etc.

Just because some buy a new-newer house doesn’t mean it can’t/won’t leak. Just about all homes were NOT ‘waterproofed and backfilled correctly’ WHEN BUILT,no they were not. And many rod holes in poured walls when built were NOT plugged/sealed fully.Alot of them just have a ‘cork’ in em which break down/fall apart in time hence,begin to allow water in basement.

Just because that house suposedly hasn’t leaked since contractor was there the 2nd time doesn’t mean you won’t have further leak(s),its possible.

Q---- What did the contractor find WRONG other than supposed honeycombing? Did they take pictures, did they explain what they used on wall and WHAT was used as backfill?
Was there a vertical or diagonal crack?
Was there a crack AND 1 or more open-leaky rod holes?
Hope they have rock solid guarantee (most are full of crap)

Imo, it would be BEST for YOU to…SEE all the walls so that you would KNOW for CERTAIN whether or not they are any cracks or rod holes that may give you trouble/cost you money in the future. Not telling you/others to do this. Just saying what needs to be said in the best interst of any BUYER.

It’s possible there WERE 1+ rod holes or cracks BEHIND drywall in other-areas that might have been previously repaired. Sometimes PREVIOUS repairs are not done CORRECTLY,were done the ‘CHEAP az’ way, meaning…a crack might have been injected or 1+ rod holes might have been done BUT weren’t thoroughly-fully plugged and if so will leak again.See THAT all the time!

Regardless, rod holes in poured walls are often a big problem…they leak.
Say again,the exterior basement walls were not waterproofed and backfilled correctly and those rod holes likely(not always) weren’t plugged correctly…just have a cork in them eh.

See it all the time,over 30 yrs…finished basements,poured walls…buyer moves in and at some point, some rod holes begin to leak(yeah fairly often a crack too) and, lolol…many homeowners are bullshttt’d when they call contractor(s) over for estimates…INSIDE SYSTEM idiots who bs the homeowners and do not honestly and competenly IDENTIFY the ACTUAL problem,leak and talk them into installing an interior bs-my-azz-system,usually with sump pump…so heads up in future eh. Some buyers are told all they need to do is raise and slope the GRADE,pfttt…that crap is without ANY doubt in my honest opinion an incompetent bunch of shtt,dang right but some will cry on that one.

Finished basement HERE, DRYWALL too…click ‘arrows’ for other pics
Crack and rod holes and OTHER exterior openings/gaps that allowed water to enter and CAUSE duh MOLD. NO interior system-method would have fixed,repaired ALL the exterior pathways were water was entering.

The house your thinking of buying/others can ALREADY, POSSIBLY, have a crack(s) and–or 1+ rod holes BEHIND drywall that will leak at some point,just a matter of time. NOT saying the house DOES,just explaining what i’ve repeatedly seen. Buyer THINKS the basement doesn’t leak and may have been told it doesn’t…pffft.

Yep, its possible that one area they had repaired was the only leaky problem…at THIS point-in-time. And maybe the only problem-leak for decades to come,its possible sure.

On the other hand…say again, there MIGHT be other honeycombing,might be a crack,might be 1+ rod holes that are ABOUT to leak BEHIND drywall in other-areas…thats why i say,its best to SEE and KNOW what the hll yer buying BEFOREHAND…yeppers.

First 5 pics…
Poured walls,INSIDE system etc PREVIOUSLY installed…pfffttt! click each pic,again first 5
What IF…this house had DRYWALL agst these walls? Well, the cracks and previous bullshtt repairs would NOT be visible…just saying.

Here’s a house in MICH,block walls though eh…an INTERIOR SYSTEM previously installed…total incompetence!!! It did not STOP water from where its STILL entering which is CAUSING more mold,more efflorescence
See where FLOOR was CUT,patched…see JUNK along bottom of basement wall.
Any homeowners who have had THIS kind of incompetent crap installed need to SUE the dumb az incompetent,negligent inside system company! Jesus people,what are you doing!
Sue these companies for misrepresenting your actual problems,leaks,defects,causes of cracks and leaks for thier own SELF GAIN!!

Just because SOME who’ve had an inside system installed haven’t YET had any more water on the FLOOR does NOT at all mean THEY fixed your problem(s) correctly! Hear THAT crap all the time,its a bunch of INCOMPENT bullshtt,yes it is! “It keeps water off the FLOOR”! BS baby, bs! They/inside system CHUMPS did NOT competently identify the actual-problems and di NOT fix them all because they don’t do exterior waterproofing and only install inside systems…this IS complete incompetent crrrap and they need to be sued for bullshtting tens of thousands of homeowners into SHTTT that did NOT fix,repair the real problems and di NOT STOP water from where its STILL entering.

a real toe tapper…
Gilligans Island, Sifting Sand wiff Mary Ann

Salma Hayek on Letterman, got milk?

Then you better correct the Portland Concrete Association.

From their book “The Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures”:

“Drying shrinkage is an inherent, unavoidable property of concrete; therefore properly positioned reinforcing steel is used to reduce crack widths or control joints are used to predetermine and control the location of cracks.”

Can’t believe you said that!

You need to read what you pasted; it talks about the use of control joints.](*,)

Do not get me confused with the typical home inspector, who has just read stuff out of a book. Growing up in construction and learning by the old timers can teach a person things no books can. :wink:

Grew up in foundation family … Build highways, basements, runways, etc.

Some leak … Some don’t. Any basement can leak under the proper circumstances. Talk to the repair contractor; the neighbors, etc.

One that was repaired right may never leak again. One thats never leaked may do so next week.

Jesus…33 years ‘DOING’ basements…SEEING 'em right up friggin close on the inside but ALSO…on the OUTSIDE,underground EH lol. Not trying to get on anyone’s nerves but damn man.What…just because i/some others who post here aren’t nachi members we couldn’t possibly have much knowlegde on a subject? We couldn’t possibly be correct and a member wrong? lol

IF and when basement walls were built correctly and IF they were WATERPROOFED and…BACKFILLED correctly THEN…one stands a good chance it won’t leak…but many were not waterproofed when built AND not backfilled correctly,so sorry.:mrgreen:

NOT necessarily knocking anyone who has BUILT homes and been in construction etc BUTT, just because some BUILD x amount of houses doesn’t mean they SEE…EXACTLY what the hlll can,often does,occur to the EXTERIOR of block,brick,stone wall DOWN-the-ROAD,years after they were built! Some of the SAME one’s tell homeowners who have a leaky basement to…raise and slope the GRADE or its fcg fine n dandy to have inside systems installed!!! Jesus k man,plzzzzz.

I get ‘that-feeling’ from some…sometimes, who think they know all about basements,basement waterproofing just because they built 100 houses which in THEIR minds makes them some sort of expert on waterproofing,wtf is that…got milk?

I’m NOT mr expert builder,am not anything remotely close to a carpenter or electrician or stucco expert( Carl!! lololol) etc etc but sure as g damn hll am a very experienced AND honest basement waterproofing contractor…got that? Got milk?

Southbound/The Allman Bros…sweeeet Bubba’s on his waay!!! lolol

Now excuse me plz, i have to get to CHURCH…ya believe that?
And what th fc is it w/many republicans who say/preach/use ‘God’ in politics etc YET, like NEWTY-boy, have fcd over 1,2+ women in their lives and THEN claim,they’ve changed,they’ve been forgiven n shttt…sooo much craaap i for one stinky mfr can’t stand these weasels.And WwwwwTttttttFfffffffff is wrong with the stinky azz MEDIA…
all the have on,lead story etc is this CRRRRRRAP on the Repub Prez primary! GET IT OFF MY TV all you MEDIA shttheads!!! lol

Your point is?

Lets phrase this decision in a different way. How many older homes do you know of where the foundation is not cracked or is not leaking? I, myself, know plenty.
The notion of all basements will or are cracked and/or leaking is false.

I am amused by the argument that an old basement that does not presently leak is some sort of definitive proof that it will never leak. I would advise one to be wary of any such advice that might appear in a home inspection report.

Eventually … sometimes in 9 years and other times in 99 years or even more … the natural forces that are seeking to equalize the pressure on all sides of a basement’s walls will win.

Your best hope as a home owner is that it will not happen during your time. There are measures that can be taken to prolong it … but the soil and the water will eventually win.

Murphy’s Law suggests that it will happen shortly after your expensive basement finishing improvements.

Thanks for all the advice so far. I guess it is difficult for me to go one way or another because i do not have enough experience with leaky basements but then who does necessarily. Obviously you guys see thousands of homes a year so it’s nice to get a feel from the experts.

As for my home inspector, i will obviously take all advice but i cannot see how he will alleviate my concerns. The basement is completely finished so he will see nothing from the inside except for an obvious water stain here or there. On the outside, well besids downspouts / grading same thing i’m not sure what he can tell me.

It doesn’t make me feel better that the house backing on to mine has at minimum half his yard draining onto mine. The basement has leaked that’s a fact. Will it leak again. No one knows that. So basically it comes down to if it leaks again, what kind of a hit money-wise would i be taking. In addition can waterproofing from the outside be done yourself. I imagine that the costliest portion of the job involves the manual labor to dig around the home. If you “fix” the holes and / or cracks and place a membrane around the exterior, will that improve the situation? I believe membranes around the foundation wall are standard in provinces like Ontario but they are definitely not standard here in Alberta. Here are some simple links i pulled off Google. I’m not claiming these work but if anyone has an opinion, that would be great.

Again do not assume from my questions that i want to “cheapen out” by doing the work myself. I just trust myself than most contractors out there.

You are twisting my words again. Where did I say a basement will never leak?
My statement on old basements was meant as, if a basement is 60 years old and is not leaking and cracking, it most likely will not leak or crack in the future. I do not make blank statements that I cannot prove, unlike you.