Buyers Love Fresh Paint – We Don’t Love it Too
Moisture meter GE protimiter

A moisture meter is must when working with a thermal camera looking for water issues

Most home buyers love it when there is fresh pain inside, as a home inspector, we look at it in a different light. What is under the paint?
When we inspect homes, we have lots of tools to help us accurately report what we see, smell or suspect. One of the most valuable in our tool-bag is a moisture meter. This tool helps us to determine the percentage of water in a material, like wood or sheetrock. It is a pricey tool but its worth every penny!

We looked at a high end town home and something about the ceiling didn’t look right. There was no stain to be seen, but instead we noticed slightly mismatched paint and poor drywall repair job. Using our moisture meter, we took ‘baseline’ readings of the same sheetrock and found about 8%-10% moisture content, these are normal. When we ran the meter over the repaired area, the meter read 76%! There was no visible evidence of and active leak, only poor workmanship of a repair. We never want to see numbers above 17%, that is the level in kiln dried lumber, and wood this dry is resistant to wood destroying organisms.

What made this situation so disturbing to me was the form 17 (sellers disclosure statement) admitted that there had been a leak years ago and it had been repaired and there was no leak now. Not only was this leak active, but with this fresh paint, there is no question someone was attempting to hide it.

Even with great tools, an inspector needs intuition and experience. We always take it as a clue about the honesty of a seller if they lived in a home for many years and claim there is nothing wrong. Almost all homes have some issues, and honest sellers know its important to state that upfront.



JJ & Suzanne are both licensed, highly skilled inspectors and educators. We are the authors of our class curriculum, and truly enjoy sharing this with our students

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