As a restorer, you’re often tasked with using specialized tools in the field that require a methodology for recording data. In this how-to blog, we’ll outline how to take moisture depth readings with Encircle and a hammer probe to ensure your floors are dried properly.
What is a Hammer Probe?
A hammer probe is a tool that is often overlooked but should be in every restorer’s inspection kit. This tool is key to penetrating hard surfaces to accurately measure moisture levels throughout a material or at a specific depth. The information it provides is critical to helping you define your drying plan. Let’s say that you want to test 1” hardwood floors that have been affected by a burst pipe in your customer’s home.Photo Credit: FLIR Systems
Step 1: Download the Encircle Mobile App
The Encircle Mobile App provides excellent field documentation tools for restoration contractors. You can try the Mobile App for free by downloading the app on your Android or Apple mobile device. Once downloaded, open the app and choose the Claims product to access the full toolkit for restoration contractors and insurance professionals.
Step 2: Create a Room and Sketch
Once you have created or opened a claim in the Encircle Mobile App, add a room and create a sketch. Click on the Sketches tab to see a preview of any existing sketches to select from. To create a new sketch, press the Sketch button again. After creating a new sketch, select the Draw tool to draw your room. Two easy-to-use tools that are useful for drawing a room are the Room and Line tool, which allow you to connect the dots to draw a room outline.
Step 3: Add a Moisture Point
Select the Moisture tab and tap anywhere to add the location of the moisture point.
Step 4: Add Materials
You want to make sure that each of your floor depths dry to your drying goal. To do this, we will add three materials to track using Encircle and set drying standards for each. Tap the plus button beside Materials and add the name of a new material: Hardwood floors 1/4”. Repeat this process of adding a new material for each of the following:
- Hardwood floors ¾”
- Subfloor 1 ½”
Step 5: Set Dry Standards
Input a dry standard for the moisture levels the materials must attain in order to dry correctly. These are the reference points Encircle compares to each reading to determine when each material has dried. To set a dry standard, select each of the three materials under Edit Materials (Dry Standards) and note the required moisture content and meter type for measurements.
Step 6: It's hammer probe time!
Place your hammer probe on the measurement point and use the insulated pins to accurately mark your location. You’ll find that your marks are easy to see and touch up during the job. A great way to mark your depths is to use whiteout on the black or green pins so you can precisely tap them to the right depth. This creates a repeatable process and is easy for anyone to do.
Now measure the ¼” material depth. In Encircle, select the Hardwood Floor ¼’’ material from the materials list and add a reading for moisture content %. Then hit the back arrow and select the ¾” material reading. Next, tap your hammer probe to the appropriate depth and then take the reading again. Repeat this on the subfloor. You now have an accurate reading of what is happening with the flooring materials and subfloor, allowing you to better gauge the condition of the floor.
As you take moisture readings for each material, the Encircle Mobile App will provide visual trend lines in moisture levels over time and mark the material as Dry when it meets the dry standard.
Drying the Right Way
When you’re done, place a low tack plastic tape over the holes to allow the moisture to acclimate back to the edges of the wood. This will reduce the chances that the edges of the holes will be dried while the wood is still wet. This is a leading cause of providing false dry readings.
Failures when drying hardwood floors occur because the sub-floors were neglected during the drying process. Don’t be that restorer! Another common cause of failure is that a restorer tries to dry the material too quickly, causing case hardening of the wood which can result in permanent damage. By using a hammer probe, in conjunction with Encircle, you’ll have the tools and precision you need to monitor materials and ensure your customers are happy.