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Old 12-23-2008, 10:21 AM   #1
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need quick general advice on moisture readings


I am close to closing on a 5 year old house in SC, and have already done a CL100 termite/moisture inspection, and a general home inspection. Both revealed only minor potential moisture problems with the floor specific to one area (around the back door). This spot has some rot/black stuff as seen from the crawl space, but the inspectors said gutters should keep pooling on the deck from occurring and that spot should dry out.

I had some hardwood/disaster repair type guys come in yesterday though and they were the first ones that I saw test the floor and air with moisture meters. They kicked this little meter around on the floor testing random spots around, and got readings of about 10-15 at around about half the spots, but in many spots (I'm talking a dozen or so) in three different rooms spread out in the 2000 square foot house, found readings of 25-30 on the meter. It actually pegged the meter out, and that thing was just beeping like crazy.

They also checked the crawlspace, which was at about 35% relative humidity, compared to about 21% outside yesterday. They said that also was a bad sign.

They used a probe type meter too that they stuck into the walls, to reveal an acceptable range at every placed checked (8-12).

This is my first house, and I donít know anything about moisture readings. I was pretty much trusting my inspectors, but now an starting to have my doubts... True that these guys have a vested interest in selling me a product... but on the other hand, they are the experts, and are the only ones that use the equipment that I saw.

To make things worse, we only have next week to finish up inspections, and I hate to walk away form this house, if the problems are minor. We plan to ask for an extended inspection period, but donít know if they will accept.

My question is, what do you guys think? Is there a potential problem big enough that it could be tens of thousands of dollars of repair work? Would you walk away with this info, not be concerned at all, etc.? any advice would be great... I am really starting to feel like I am in over my head being so inexperienced with moisture problems.

Background: Itís a foreclosure and has been vacant and unairconditioned all summer long.

Thanks a lot.

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Old 12-23-2008, 01:20 PM   #2
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need quick general advice on moisture readings


just got done talking to the floor guys. They say that somebody has done a cheap "Buff and Coat" type treatment on the floor, but didnt dry it first. They claim it cannot be repaired due to how thin the wear layer is. and say my only alternatives are to live with the ugly peeling spots and expect them to worsen, or to rip the whole floor up, dry it out and replace it. They quoted me $15k for the whole 2000 square foot house. Could this be right?

The other inspector who checked the crawl space says there is not evidance of moisture below... says theres nothing to worry about.

Anybody even experianced such a problem? please advise... thanks.

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Old 12-24-2008, 09:11 AM   #3
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need quick general advice on moisture readings


35% inside a crawl space isn't terrible. Many crawl spaces would be lucky to see 35%. There can be a lot of variables that affect crawl space moisture readings. You will be hard pressed to ever get the inside and outside numbers to match perfectly. In the areas where they claimed to have high readings, did they recheck the same area from below? Did they recheck it with a different meter to verify? A high spot reading could be caused by a pipe or wire directly against the floor. Most times, if we run into a high spot reading, we start making slow circles to see if a pattern develops. In many cases we can draw a pattern that can be traced to a piece of metal directly below the surface. Abrupt changes in meter readings on floors or walls should always be treated as suspect. A slow scan will show a gradual increase or decrease in moisture content if a wet spot exists. A moisture meter can say all kinds of things to the un-informed. Especially in the hands of a less than honorable company with a vested interest in high readings. Oh.......... and we don't kick our very expensive meters around on the floor. I'd be most concerned with the spot inside the back door that is already rotted and already has black fuzzy stuff issues. If it's got mold, then moisture has already effected the integrity of the structure in that spot to some degree. Be sure the inspectors have a good look at the sill and ring joist along that wall. Did they test that area? And what readings did they get? How old is the floor refinish? Could they be reading residual from the finish that has not yet cured out? What is the general appearance of the rest of the house? Do you know any history of the area where the house sets? Is it in a flood plain? Ask the neighbors what they know about the place. A repo house isn't like a flip house where all kinds of things can be deliberately hidden. Without being able to see conditions, it's hard to give advice.
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