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The carbide meter also is affected by hygroscopic salts in materials and responds to them immediately. When you use one on a site it becomes clear that the carbide meter has big problems distinguishing between a free and hygroscopic moisture.

Materials that are heavily contaminated with salt can have moisture content levels over 5 % without any free moisture. So you can see that it is very easy to get a misreading and carry out unnecessary repairs and work.

What we really find is a big issue with the carbide meter is when you try to compare moisture content levels of different materials in order to try and diagnose the origin of a moisture problem.

Different substances have different saturation moisture contents and its not possible to make direct comparisons between different materials. People do try this with the carbide meter on site and it leads to a misdiagnosis.

Reading what you have so far, it becomes clear that we are not great admirers of the carbide meter.

As pointed out, there are many disadvantages in using one and as an on site testing tool, it can be responsible for many misdiagnosis with misinterpreted results.

Users of the carbide meter tend not to be fully trained in using the testing equipment and gaining results can be a slow process when compared with testing with a moisture meter.

It can take well over 5 minutes to get a result using the carbide meter and because of this, users tend to only take one or two samples, which is not enough in our opinion.

Its easy to criticise, but credit where credit is due. The carbide meter comes in to its own as an off site moisture tester.

For determining total moisture content, hygroscopic moisture content and free moisture content in a series of vertical samples, the carbide meter excels in a laborary method and becomes the proper diagnostic tool is was meant to be.

Carbide meter vs Moisture meter


For on site use the moisture meter is superior just as long as it is used correctly with expertise and their limitations known. They are faster to use and cleaner by not destroying a building as they are non intrusive.

The carbide meter, even when used with expertise has many shortfalls as an on site measuring instrument. They cause damage and the results are easily misinterpreted.

This can lead to unneccesary building and repair costs which can be expensive.

Off site the carbide meter excels in laboratory conditions and leaves the moisture meter way behind in its wake.



Both instruments play a totally different role and should be used accordingly. On site one should use an electrical moisture meter. Off site the carbide meter should be used for testing moisture content levels.






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The carbide meter is an alternative solution to the moisture meter for testing and diagnosing damp problems. Comparisons can be made between the two, but as to which is a better method of testing can be of strong debate. Those that own and use a carbide meter swear by them as they do give a true quantative reslt of moisture content in a substance. One drawback, and a significant one, is that the carbide meter employs a destructive method in determining moisture content levels. It requires samples to be removed so they can be tested.

The carbide meter is mainly used as an onsight testing tool. With walls they are used to test for levels of 5% moisture content or less as this is considered to be ok and that rising damp is not affecting the wall. Problems here though are that the 5 % threshold are for the base of the wall and it is very difficult to distinguish between moisture content and humidity moisture content when you are on sight.




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