How to Troubleshoot Wood Moisture Meter Issues
If you take a moment to think about all the things in your life that are made easier because of technology, you could probably come up with a pretty hefty list.
A reliable, high-quality moisture meter is one of those pieces of technology that we consider absolutely essential.
But as amazing as technology is, sometimes it can give us problems that we don’t know how to fix.
That’s where this page about troubleshooting comes in.
On this page, you’ll learn the essential troubleshooting methods that you need to know when faced with moisture meter issues.
Specifically, the page is going to cover these problem-solving methods:
- Considering meter quality
- Verifying the calibration
- Identifying signs of damage
- Checking out your meter’s manual
- Replacing your meter’s battery
- Sending it to the manufacturer
And after covering methods of troubleshooting, we’ll even discover how to avoid damage to your wood moisture meter altogether.
For now, let’s get started with some methods you should try when figuring out what’s up with your wood moisture meter.
Making sure you have a quality wood moisture meter
If you turn on the meter and it seems like…
- You aren’t getting the correct reading
- It doesn’t read well at either spectrum of moisture levels (high or low)
Then, the very first thing that you should do is consider its quality.
The fact is that a lot of cheaply made and very inexpensive meters can’t take correct readings in the first place. Wood moisture meter accuracy is directly related to quality because wood moisture meters are definitely one of those things where you get what you pay for.
So if they can take readings, it’s likely that they can only take readings that are more or less in the middle of the moisture percentage spectrum. In other words, the meter is incapable of taking readings at either end of the moisture measurement range.
When troubleshooting a wood moisture meter issue, ask yourself these questions:
- How much did this meter cost?
- Where was it made?
- Does it come from a reputable company?
- Does it have a warranty?
Depending on your answer to these questions, you might be dealing with a lower-quality meter.
Unfortunately, if that’s the case, there probably isn’t much you can do except invest in a better one for next time.
Verifying the calibration
Another way that you can troubleshoot your wood moisture meter is by verifying whether or not it is calibrated.
If you are continuously getting faulty results, whether that’s several percentage points off or just 1 or 2, your meter might need a recalibration. A meter that isn’t calibrated is simply not going to give you the results that you need.
It’s unlikely that you will be able to recalibrate it yourself, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t verify whether or not it is calibrated. Many high-quality meters will come with a calibration block or have a calibration block available that you can use to determine if it is calibrated.
If it is in calibration, and you are still getting faulty measurements, it’s time to move on to another troubleshooting method. If it’s not, however, then you’ve figured out the issue and can contact the company and send your wood moisture meter in for recalibration.
Mystery solved, and all you needed was a calibration check.
Identifying signs of damage
Damage to a wood moisture meter can sometimes go undetected. That is, until it’s time to use it and you discover it’s either not reading at all or it’s giving you an inaccurate reading.
Checking it for physical signs of damage may give you the information you need to take the next steps toward repair.
Have a pinless wood moisture meter?
Then look at the moisture sensor on the back of the meter. Does it look damaged? A damaged contact plate can result in skewed readings or no readings at all.
And you can ask a similar question for a pin-type meter.
Take a look at the pins. Do they look damaged? Have they been broken or bent? Damaged pins must be replaced in order to take accurate readings.
And regardless of what kind of wood moisture meter you have, you can check for signs of damage to its body. Are corners damaged from dropping? Does the display have parts that don’t work? Are there any signs of melting from being left in a hot car or another hot area?
Ask yourself these questions and take inventory of the answers. If you find yourself saying “yes” to any of these questions, contact the manufacturer. They may be able to repair or replace your meter, depending on the warranty.
Checking out the manual
Believe it or not, there is a lot that can be solved simply by looking through your wood moisture meter’s manual.
This is especially true if you are using multiple species of wood in a variety of woodworking projects and find the meter works well for some species and not others.
Does that sound relatable at all? Then it could be that you haven’t been correcting for species with your meter.
A good quality meter will come with a table that shows you how to adjust for species when you take moisture measurements. It may also come with a table for temperature correction.
If you read the manual, find out how to adjust for species, and see an improvement in your moisture measurements—and, therefore, your projects—then you’ve discovered the problem!
Replacing the battery
This simple solution may be the lifesaver you need to keep from panicking or from sending your meter in unnecessarily.
Replacing the battery is helpful if your meter is simply not turning on.
Making sure that your meter has the power it needs will ensure accurate meter readings. You can’t expect this powerful piece of equipment to function at its best if it only has a fraction of the “juice” that it needs.
So ask yourself, “When was the last time I changed my meter’s battery?”
If you’ve been using your meter consistently for several months or if the meter’s low-battery indicator or icon is on, open up the battery compartment, switch the batteries out, and see if that helps.
Sending it to your manufacturer
This last troubleshooting method is often the least considered, but sending your meter back to the manufacturer can help with a host of problems.
If you’ve tried all the other methods and you are still having trouble, perhaps your manufacturer can help. This is especially true if you purchased your meter from a reputable brand with solid customer service and a good warranty.
Does the meter only work intermittently? Does it randomly turn off? Do the buttons not work the way that they should, or is the display giving you trouble?
Your meter could have a manufacturing defect.
Even if the issue comes from the wear and tear of the meter, a quality meter manufacturer should be able to offer a plan to repair or replace the meter.
How to avoid damage to a wood moisture meter
While there are plenty of troubleshooting methods that you can use to solve moisture meter problems, there are also plenty of ways to prevent damage in the first place.
First of all, you’ll want to keep your meter in a safe, clean place. Put it back in the case after you use it, and store it in a place where it won’t overheat or get too cold.
Next, handle the meter carefully. Dropping the meter can cause moisture reading and calibration issues.
You’ll also want to avoid water or moisture with your meter. Don’t leave it out in the rain or drop it in water. Water damage is definitely a possibility, and you want to avoid it.
All of these tips can be summed up in this point: take care of your meter. You wouldn’t let your smartphone sit out in the sun, leave it out in the rain, handle it roughly, or risk dropping it. The same goes for your moisture meter.
If you take care of your moisture meter, it can last you many, many years, especially if you’ve invested in a quality moisture meter like those from Bessemeter.
Interested in adding a meter to your toolbox that will take reliable moisture readings for years to come?
Check out our moisture meter product page and make quality workmanship your priority.