Protimeter Surveymaster Dual Function Moisture Meter

The Surveymaster surveys for moisture in most building materials.

Incorporates two modes of operation - Search and Measure - that enable the user to distinguish surface moisture from sub-surface moisture, essential information when trying to establish the extent and cause of a moisture problem.

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Protimeter Surveymaster Dual Function Moisture Meter
  • Proitmeter Surveymaster
  • Proitmeter Surveymaster - In Use

The Surveymaster incorporates two modes of operation - Search and Measure - that enable the user to distinguish surface moisture from sub-surface moisture, essential information when trying to establish the extent and cause of a moisture problem.

SEARCH MODE (RF) - displays an indication of moisture content to a depth of up to 20mm using radio frequency (RF) moisture measurement technique. An alarm with adjustable sensitivity helps locate areas of moisture when you cannot see the LED or digital scale.

MEASURE MODE (PINS) - displays the actual moisture reading of wood.

Moisture level values are shown on a digital display alongside a scale of colour coded lights that indicate the moisture condition of the material. This combined presentation of moisture measurement helps the user to map the extent of problems and monitor changes in condition precisely and reliably.

Moisture meters are used by members of the Timber and Flooring association.

 

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  • Why does the Surveymaster provide widely differing results when using the pins versus search mode in a sub floor situation on particle board flooring and also timber bearers and joists?

    Search mode (Radio Frequency) utilises a 0-1000 relative scale; there are no units of measurement. Search mode gives relative information of the moisture condition from the surface to a nominal depth of 20mm (subject to the material being tested; perhaps slightly less than this in timber). The red-zone relative readings of 726 and 567 indicate that the material is damp beneath the surface. To quantify the actual moisture level in %mc (in wood) or in %WME (in materials other than wood) additional testing would be necessary, by using the Surveymaster together with the Deep Wall Probes or a Hammer Electrode (for wood only).

    Measure mode, using the pins (or accessories such Deep Wall Probes or Hammer Electrode) gives a precise and specific measurement of the actual %mc between the tips pf the electrode pins. The red zone readings of 28.9 and 22.1 indicate the actual %mc moisture level at the surface between the points of the pins.

    In essence, Search and Measure modes are complementary technologies. Search mode is used to detect, map and monitor the sub-surface condition in relative terms. Measure mode gives quantitative and precise measurement of the actual %mc in wood or %WME in materials other than wood. For further explanation of WME download these Equilibrium Moisure Content tables. When high Search mode readings are obtained it may often be necessary to take quantitative readings by using the Surveymaster in Measure mode.

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  • Can a Surveymaster measure moisture in besser blocks?

    Because these are of an unknown mixture the Surveymaster would give “indication only".

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  • Does the Surveymaster measure moisture on marble & tile slabs?

    Does your want to know the %mc of the tiles themselves, or what the moisture level is behind the tiles? If behind, consider these as you would ceramic tiles. Provided the tiles are not too thick, the Surveymaster should give useful information. If within the tiles: We have no information on the Surveymaster performance in marble and granite tiles specifically. Assuming there are no conductors in these materials then the Surveymaster should work. However, as these materials are so dense they may not be capable of holding enough moisture to be detectable to the Surveymaster. Best advice we can offer is to try it out on samples that are known to have high and low moisture contents.

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  • A polystyrene panel manufacturer wants to measure moisture in blocks of polystyrene that are up to 480mm thick by 2-3 meters wide by 3-5metres long. These blocks dry from the outside in and there and be a pocket in the centre not dry that does not show up until they are into fabrication. Could the Surveymaster with 240mm deep wall probes work?

    Deep wall probes may work. It depends if the levels of moisture within the panels are within the measuring range of the Mini or Surveymaster. It should be easy enough to establish this by trying it out on panels that are known to be acceptably dry and unacceptably wet.

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  • Does the Surveymaster measure moisture in carpet?

    Best units for testing moisture in carpets are the pin-type (mini) meters. Search mode RF of the Surveymaster and Aquant are not effective for moisture measurement in carpet itself. Better for giving insight into conditions with solid walls/floors. The Surveymaster is the most versatile meter as it has both functions of RF and pins.

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  • Is there a connection between condensation and dewpoint?

    In condensation, there is no explanation of dewpoint temperature. Dewpoint is the temperature at which moisture condenses. It is a function of ambient temperature and %rh and it varies if the %rh changes or ambient temperature changes or both change. Moisture condense on mirrors, walls etc when their surface temperatures fall below dewpoint. A simple example; when you take a cold bottle of beer out of the fridge, water droplets form on the glass. The reason – the temperature of the glass is below dewpoint temperature. The MMS enables the user to measure humidity, ambient temp, dewpoint and surface temperature for condensation investigation work. It even shows you the difference between surface temperature and dew point.

    Other answers to this question

    Answer 2
    The Surveymaster does not use “sonic” signals in search mode. It measures the dielectric capacitance of the material by using radio frequency (RF) signals.

    Answer 3
    Protimeter two-prong meters (Mini, Timbermaster, Surveymaster & MMS) are indeed calibrated for timber. However, these instruments are not designed solely for use in timber, they are designed for use in the whole range of non-conductive building materials. The point to note is that they only measure actual moisture in wood. In other materials they measure %WME values. This is very significant, because it means that the meters can be used to establish the moisture condition of the materials under investigation by using the wood calibration as a reference.

    Answer 4
    Hygroscopic salts, carbon and other conductors will cause high moisture meter readings. When this is suspected, instruments such as the MMS should be used in hygrometry mode to measure the ERH of the material under investigation.

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  • Will the Surveymaster measure moisture in corrugated cardboard?

    The SM will only work effectively when held directly against sold materials. It is designed not to bridge air gaps, which is why it does not register through corrugated cardboard.

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  • I need to measure moisture in a laminate flooring which is made out of HDF (high density fibre board) and other layers to produce a hard wearing laminate floor. I need a unit to measure moisture within an installed floor that may be experiencing some problems - problems with our floors usually come down to customer wet mopping, spillage etc. I need an accurate way of testing floor without pulling floor up, how could I do this?

    Should be able to identify damp spots within the HDF floor using the RF search modes of the Aquant, Surveymaster and MMS. Readings are relative only but if moisture (from mopping etc) has penetrated the floor, it should be detectable with this method.

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  • Customer using a Surveymaster testing magnesite (20-25mm thick) on concrete. When they put the pins into the magnesite the SM shows dry. The magnesite has been removed at different places on the concrete and using search mode the meter shows wet. The concrete floor has been down for 30 years. They ask why the meter is giving two different readings?

    Surface readings (pin mode). Pins take a precise and specific measurement between the points of contact. Sub-surface readings (RF mode). Relative measurement is taken from the surface to a nominal depth (typically 20mm). Common for a moisture gradient to exist, even in material that may be old and stable. In essence, it is not uncommon for moisture level to increase with depth in material as there are numerous variables that affect moisture level/stability (e.g. type of material thickness, environment, whether or not concrete has been covered and so on). Possible that the magnesite layer has acted as a vapour check and kept moisture within the concrete.

    Note too that search mode RF measurements are relative not quantitate. Search mode is a moisture detection device designed to map extent of condition and to monitor levels in comparative terms. How “wet” is “wet”? Are the search mode readings just in the red zone (circa 200-250) or into the high hundreds?

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  • Moist masonry wall covered with an impervious coating such as plastic epoxy paint. If you put the meter on the surface will it measure any surface moisture or just the masonry behind the paint?

    There are two measurement modes available with the Surveymaster:

    In REL/search mode, the instrument will detect any conductivity in the bulk material to a depth of at least 12mm but no more than 19mm. The measurement sees the moisture whether or not it has a route to the surface. This measurement mode will register any moisture in the depth range even it is behind a DPN or other impervious barrier.

    In WME/Pin mode the instrument primarily measures moisture in the direct line between the pins. It will not measure across gaps or through barriers. However, if both pins are pushed through the barrier – in this case the surface coatings of paint – the pins will be in direct contact with moisture behind and so the moisture will be included in the readings.

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  • Do the timber moisture meters work on MDF?

    The fact that timber instruments start measuring at 6-7% moisture content in timber does not preclude their use for other materials at lower moisture contents. Eg. In plaster board moisture content as low as 2% may be measured. Similarly, since we do not know exactly what the MDF consists of, the easiest way is to get a sample, which has a moisture content of 4% and see if one of our timber instruments work.

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  • What scale should I use when looking for Osmosis in GRP?

    Osmosis is quite common in the marine world. A major hazard is what is known as osmosis (when the gel coat becomes semi porous) and will lead to eventual breakdown of the structure should use the A scale. This scale is also used on the Mini, Surveymaster and MMS meters.

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  • I want to measure moisture up to 30% in plaster figures before they are painted. Will your timber moisture meters work?

    Yes, you should be able to use these to assess the moisture condition of plaster figures in the same way you would a wall Your customer could use the mini or similar to take relative readings. You would actually be measuring %WME values.

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  • Customer using a Timbermaster to measure blackbutt timber on a plywood sub floor and water under the flooring has caused the blackbutt to come off the sub floor. The blackbutt measures 13%-14% and the plywood measures 23%-25%. What should the plywood measure when dry? Also which scale should the customer be measuring the plywood with? Scale A?

    Wood, including ply, is in a safe air dry condition when the moisture content is 16% or lower (green zone on our Mini and Surveymaster instruments). The borderline or at-risk condition is 16-20%mc, indicated by the yellow zone. Damp wood has 20%mc or greater, in the red zone. If using a Timbermaster for plywood, the customer should use the A scale. This scale is also used on the Mini, Surveymaster and MMS meters.

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  • I asked you about polystyrene ten years ago and wondered if there have been any newer test methods? Would humidity now be more accurate?

    This really depends of the accuracy of measurement sought by the customer and the physical amount of water within the polystyrene itself. If customer is looking for simple moisture detection, then it may be that the radio frequency (RF detection devices (Aquant, Surveymaster and MMS) will be adequate as thickness of material (18-25mm) is not so great. Can the material be tested from both sides?

    But RF detection is relative measurement and can be affected by variables (temperature, inconsistency of the materials) etc). If a more precise measurement is required, I suspect %WME using deep wall probes will be more reliable and useful. Are you aware of the EIFS probe? This is used to push through polystyrene insulation widely used in low cost American houses external insulation finishing system. Same principle as deep wall probes but a lot more convenient to use. Humidity techniques, viable, I think but time consuming to get an equilibrium rh measurement.

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  • Can your Protimeter meters measure moisture in refractory bricks?

    The Surveymaster or Aquant using search mode are certainly an option for quick, sub-surface moisture level checking of refractory bricks. Point to note is that the scale of these instruments is a relative index only rather that an actual measurement of the bricks % moisture content (%mc)

    Is it important to know the actual %mc or to have an instrument that tells you in relative terms whether the bricks are in a dry, borderline or damp condition?

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  • Can the Mini or Surveymaster with deep wall probes measure moisture in vermiculite?

    Suggest a Mini with a deep wall probe for quick initial investigation. Then a Hygromaster could be used to measure the ERH if the material is of a compressed nature.

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Specifications

Depth of Moisture Non-invasive up to approx. 20mm
Range 70 to 999 relative (non-invasive)
Weight 225g
Dimensions 190 x 70 x 49mm
Operating Temperature Range No
Measurement Range 7.9% to 99% WME (pin measurement)

Certification

Calibration is done by comparison to a Test Box, with reference to a NATA endorsed Report, to provide equivalent moisture values according to the manufacturer. Calibration is done in accordance with Reference Document LWI 34.

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