Know the Differences: Moisture Meters vs. Thermal Imaging Cameras for Water Inspections

Water Damage Inspections
Thermal Imaging Camera for Repairs

Moisture Meters and Thermal Imaging Cameras:

How do they work? How are they different?

Quiet, yet extremely powerful. Slowly and steadily, water rots wood and erodes rock. Moisture is even highly corrosive to most metals including steel and zinc. It is not an overstatement that the general main concern with the property is water.

This should explain the data that a significant chunk of our emergency responses are related to property damage caused by water-related events. The best way to mitigate the damage and restore the loss is to act quickly. Thanks to modern technology, we now can detect moisture faster than ever.

Moisture Meters and Thermal Imaging Cameras are two tools that are commonly incorporated in completing a moisture survey within a building. Since their functions are different, it is best to use both devices together to inspect spaces more quickly and with more precise results.

Moisture Meters

Simply put, a moisture meter is a handy tool to measure the percentage of water in a given substance. With this information, engineers can determine if the inspected area is safe to use or not. As a result, it usually becomes the very first device to locate and inspect moisture's presence and severity. There are two types of moisture meters:

  • Pinless: This non-invasive device is best for taking quick measurements. This type of device uses radio frequencies to determine moisture's presence and to provide qualitative readings.

  • Pin-type: This device is useful to measure the actual moisture content within the given material. When it makes a contact with the material, it calculates the percentage (providing quantitative readings) of moisture by measuring the electrical resistance between the two pins.

Thermal Imaging Cameras

A thermal imaging camera, as known as a thermographic camera, provides images using infrared radiation. Compared to the 400–700 nanometre range of the visible light camera, a thermal imaging camera boats its extra sensitivity to the wavelength that encompasses from approximately 1,000 nm to 14,000 nm.

When it comes to moisture inspection, a thermal imaging camera detects differences in surface temperature to narrow down areas for further investigation. When an area is affected by moisture, it appears cooler (usually in blue) on the device's screen. If the water is hot, a thermal imaging camera can also detect unusually hot (red) spots. While measuring the temperature of the given material generally gives a good picture of the issue, it does not always guarantee that an identified cool or hot spot is due to a moisture leak. For instance, the temperature difference could be caused due to poor or missing insulation.

In general, we recommend using a thermal imaging camera first to quickly locate areas of concern in need of further investigation. Then we bring a moisture meter to confirm the suspected issue. The readings of these two different devices are interdependent on each other. Therefore, when being used together effectively, we can speed up the process of elimination to come up with a strategic plan to solve the problem.


At ARS/Global Emergency Management, our teams are equipped with the most innovative technology to accurately scan and map areas that have been impacted by water. This provides us with the insights necessary to enact a plan that mitigates the damage caused by water & moisture.

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