Need for moisture meter

Im sure this has been addressed.
So if i have a water stain, how much help is a moisture meter?
Am i not going to recommend a specialist in the end?


It will help to determine if it is still active.

Oh, Welcome to the forum, Mike. Enjoy!!


How will you verify the leak is active or pre-existing. Who would you consider to be an expert when you are the one they hired to perform their home inspection?

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I guess you can always do the taste test.


A moisture meter can tell you if a stain contains moisture or not.

If there is an active leak it’s obviously more serious than a dry stain that may have been there for 10+ years before they last replaced the roof.

A good moisture meter is a must have tool for a home inspector.


The recommendation you give to your client (if you give recommendations) may change based on if moisture is present or not present, whether it has rained recently, or whether there is plumbing above. It is really just another tool to give your client the best recommendation possible.


Hey Martin.
We are hired for our general wide ranging proficiency in the huge number of systems andvsubsystems that make up a dwelling.
I see my job as pointing out various concerns.
In this case it is a giant difference with a dry V wet stain. You can’t tell by looking usually, so a specialist non homeowner tool is used to verify.
If it’s wet you then recommend further review and suggest who based on your suspicion or actual determination of the cause.
Under a bathroom a plumber, a/c lines an HVAC, a roof then a roofer. But you found the problem and set them down the road to get it fixed.

I don’t recommend how it should be fixed, just that it should followed by refinishing

I apply this logic all the way thru the report.

The preamble to the report I send out highlights quite emphatically that I do not have the expertise to know HOW to fix particular concerns, but that a suitable professional be engaged to make it happen.

I try and keep the reporting of concerns brief. Ie this is what I saw, this is why it’s bad, this is what I recommend you do.

If I feel the need to be more expansive I will include further information in the appropriate part if the report using much more descriptive terms.

As an example I will just say I observed the stairway did not have dimensional uniformity, it could cause a trip and I recommend repairs for safety. Then in an informational blurb I explain in detail what that means. But the concern is brief, succinct and easily noted.

Good luck on your career


Thank you Alan. The question was for the OP to get him to understand the importance of a moisture meter when he is the one hired as an expert in his field.

Thank you sir for your professional and helpful response.
i have a few things to consider on using them and your response is quit helpful
i think in my quest here im trying to determine based on our level of expertise, the actual amount it will benifit my customer. i mean its good to know if there is moisture, but many other factors come into play alot of times.

I think thats my concern it may help, but enough?
if the area is dry there could still be a leak and id hate to give my customer a false sense of security.
ceiling water stains are a concern. i think my train of thought here is that a roofer will be able to make the determination better than me with even a meter. i just want to do whats best for my customer

it can still be active even if its dry right?
they would need to have that disclosed to them
it can help i think if the circumstance is there. but not always?

I try to keep it simple:
Water stains were noted. Stains are evidence of prior water penetrations. No moisture present at the time of inspection.


In my opinion as a Home Inspector, the moisture meter is my #1 tool! This helps you determine if stains are actively leaking or not.

I used a cheap starter from Amazon that was not very expensive, then upgraded to a much better model over time.

You cant “verify” unless it is raining or has rained recently.
an expert in the field?
Perhaps someone at that point who IS expected to do exhaustive inspection of an area using invasive procedures or specialized equipment

You are the expert the customer has hired. Report on your findings the day of inspection only.

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I always try to get as much info for my clients as possible. Observe where the stains are, is it a possible roof leak or plumbing leak. Go to the area if accessible and try to determine if it appears to have been repaired or not.

Example: If there is a bathroom upstairs and you notice past stains under the sink from a previous drain leak but after running water you see no active leaks and the drain appears to be newer.


If roof leak, go back and look in that area. Is it a flashing issue? Drain boot or chimney located in that area? If it appears to be sealed well report on that and move on.

It’s not always going to be raining so some stains that test dry with a moisture meter may still be active leaks. Just make sure your client is aware of that and tell them to monitor further if you see no signs of why the stain would be active.

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That would be you but let’s say this is the scenario. You find a stain on the bathroom wall. Now you don’t believe in moisture meters so you ask for further evaluation by a professional.

The plumber says “I tore the wall open and there isn’t a plumbing leak. That will be $500 please.” The cost for repairing the drywall and tile $1000.

Customer hires a roofer. “I went into the attic and there was no leaks visible on the roof sheathing over the bathroom. However the HVAC air handler is above the bathroom. That will be $300 please”.

The HVAC technician says “Yes it looks like the air handler auxiliary pan leaked at one point, somebody installed a new one. There is no active leak here. That will be $300 please”.

So now you’re on the hook for about $2100. You have a pissed off customer. A moisture meter would have told you if that leak was active on the day of inspection. A good home inspector will go into the attic and investigate the source of the stain.


Yes, it can be an active leak but currently be dry, regardless, we need to report what we see at the time of inspection.

Here’s how I report a dry stain:

Dry stains were viewed on the ceiling surface materials, unable to verify active leakage at the time of inspection, make inquiry with current owner as to any current or previous leaks.

Here’s how I report a wet stain:

Stains viewed on the ceiling surface materials were checked with a moisture meter and resulted in a high moisture content reading indicating a current leak.


That makes sense
thank you

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Yes sorry Martin. It was directed to the OP just missed the right arrow.

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