Hi Mr. Pest Control. I was wondering if a moisture meter would help me to find Carpenter Ant nests in a house. If so, what type of moisture meter could you recommend? And how would I use it? Thank you
A moisture meter is a valuable tool for detecting moisture sources within hidden areas. While they may not always be associated with moisture, carpenter ants often do prefer to find areas that are higher in moisture than surrounding locations, and create their colonies there. I have read and heard that the colonies within a structure most often are satellite colonies that are still "connected" to the parent colony out in the ground somewhere, but at certain points in the colony life a drier location is needed for members of the colony such as late stage larvae or pupae, and these may be relocated to that satellite colony. Moisture definitely would be an attraction to the ants within a structure, so with luck the moisture meter would detect it.
My basic knowledge on moisture meters is that you have two basic kinds - those with two sharp prongs to poke into the surface, and referred to as Invasive, and those that are non-invasive and read through layers of material such as stucco, sheetrock, flooring, etc. I think the non-invasive would be the much more appropriate to use within a home, with all its finished surfaces. By simply passing the meter over the surface it somehow reads the conductivity beneath that area, sensing a higher conductivity when moisture is present. A dial or a digital readout tell you exactly what moisture level is present.
Univar carries a couple of moisture meters that should be appropriate. One is the Moisture Encounter Plus from Tramex, and you can see the device and read about it at this website - https://tramexltd.com/us/moistplus.php . This one uses a dial, but we have sold it for years and it is very reliable, reading through various kinds of fairly thick coverings, supposedly even brick or ceramic tiles. It is NON-invasive. Another is the Protimeter Mini Moisture meter from Peco, and it is an invasive model, with the two probes. It registers moisture levels on a lighted scale, from green to red depending on the moisture present. You can read about this one at this website - http://www.pecosales.com/product_pages/view_catalog_page.asp?id=7001 . Both meters are about the size of a large pocket calculator.
Companies that do structural inspections should definitely consider having a moisture meter as one of their most important tools. The ability to definitively identify moisture when suspected would be a huge service to the customer and gain some revenue and work for the inspector. These are a simple technology that adds one more level to a proper inspection for problems in a home.
Mr. Pest Control
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Please note, Mr. Pest Control is answering questions supplied by PMP customers across North America. His answers are generated from industry and manufacturer-provided information. The answer may not be specific to the laws and regulations for your State, Province, Territory or Country. In addition, products mentioned may not be registered and or available in all areas. Always check with your local Univar office for specific information to your area. Always read and follow label directions.