But have you ever wondered how to find out the moisture content of wood? Simple: use a moisture meter.
A firewood moisture metre is an absolutely essential tool if you want to get the most out of your log burner or fireplace.
A moisture metre will help you determine how well seasoned your firewood is. If you notice that your log burner isn’t putting out a lot of heat, or that the windows are becoming blackened, this could be a sign that the firewood you are using isn’t seasoned enough.
Using unseasoned firewood is not only incredibly inefficient, but it can also damage your log burner. Worse still it can cause a build-up of tar in your chimney which could lead to a house fire.
Burning unseasoned wood also produces high levels of particulates and soot which can be seriously bad for your health.
Having a moisture metre on hand will help you avoid all of those issues and help you to get the most out of your log fire.
What is a moisture metre?
As the name would suggest, a moisture metre is a device used to measure moisture levels. They’re small and handheld, and can be used on wood, concrete, soil, paper and drywall.
Moisture metres will either be digital or analogue and will either be pinless or have two pins.
Pin-type moisture metre
Pin-type moisture metres are designed with two pins which must be pushed into the wood in order to take a reading.
When you turn the metre on, electricity will flow through the pins and measure the resistance between them. Obviously wood doesn’t conduct electricity, but the moisture in the wood will. The higher the resistance, the dryer the wood.
Some pin metres are even sensitive to the chemicals within the firewood and may ask you to put in the species of wood you are using.
Pin-type moisture metres are super accurate. The only drawback is that, over time, after being shoved into wood repeatedly, the pins can get damaged and may need to be replaced.
Pinless moisture metre
With pinless moisture metres you don’t have to poke anything into the wood. Instead you lay the device on top of it.
Pinless moisture metres scan the area they are placed on and measure the density of the wood.
With pin moisture metres you can only determine the moisture levels between the two points. With the pinless device, you can measure a much wider area.
Pinless metres will measure the moisture from the surface down to around 1.5 inches deep.
Be sure to wipe the surface of the wood before taking a reading as any moisture on the surface could drastically change the result.
What to look for in a moisture metre
There are thousands of moisture metres out there and it can be difficult to know where to start when trying to find the right one for you.
Here are the things you should look out for:
Needless to say, the most important feature of your moisture metre should be its accuracy. It can have all the fancy functions it likes, but if it isn’t giving you an accurate reading, it’s useless to you.
With moisture metres, you generally get what you pay for. The higher-priced metres will tend to be the most accurate. The cheaper the metre, the lower the accuracy.
You want a moisture metre that is built to last. Look for devices that come with cases and that are designed for heavy use.
If you have opted for a pin-type metre then choose one where the pins are easy to install and that come with replacements which are easy to put in.
Easy to use
If your moisture metre is of decent quality it should be simple and intuitive to use.
And that’s everything you need to know about moisture metres and how to choose the right one for you.