Best soil moisture meters

Best soil moisture meters

A soil moisture meter, also known as a soil moisture probe or a soil moisture sensor, can be extremely helpful, especially if you have been having problems with mold in the basement. Find out how soil affects your basement, how to use one of these devices, and how to prevent or at least minimize moisture in your soil. We will also review some of the best moisture meters you can buy.

Topics covered
  • What is a soil moisture meter?
  • Why is moist soil a problem?
  • How to use a soil moisture meter
  • The best soil moisture meters
    • ReoTemp soil moisture meter
    • XLUX T10 soil moisture sensor meter
  • How to prevent moist soil

What is a soil moisture meter?

A soil moisture meter, as the name implies, measures the moisture levels of soil. It works in the same way as a regular drywall moisture meter, for example, and is commonly used by gardeners.

Is that, “I’m not a gardener, so why do I need one?” I hear you ask? Well, the chances are that you probably don’t need one. However, if your basement walls are showing signs of cracking and you’ve had persistent mold infestations, then perhaps it’s time you check the moisture levels of the soil around your home.

Why is moist soil a problem?

Moist soil sitting around your basement can cause many problems, which we will explain below.

1: Cracked walls: When wet, soil weighs considerably more. And when the earth sitting around your basement is regularly wet, it will begin to exert more pressure onto your walls, which will make them crack.

2: Trickling water/damp rings/condensation on walls or floor: Water from the outside will eventually force its way through basement walls and floors.

3: Deterioration of wood/carpets: The water that accumulates in your basement will start rotting wood and carpets. Not to mention the very real risk of mold.

4: Structural defects: The structural integrity of your home is also at risk. For example, joists, columns, and headers in the basement can start to rot. This will ultimately lead to costly repairs.

5: Humidity: With enough water accumulation, your basement will become more humid, which in turn fuels further mold growth.

6: Mold: All of these conditions combined will lead to a basement mold infestation. Not only will this cause your allergies to flare up while you’re down there, but spores will travel from the basement to other parts of your home from where the infestation will spread.

How to use a soil moisture meter

Wet soil

A soil moisture meter isn’t the pin/pinless type and instead uses a probe, of varying lengths, that you insert into the soil. Once in, it will give you moisture readings on either a scale of 0 to 10 or in percentage units.

To check the moisture levels of the soil around your basement, insert the probe into the ground and wait until you get a reading. Naturally, moisture levels change the deeper you go, so you could also dig a foot or two into the ground and take a reading from there.

The best soil moisture meters

Here we review the ReoTemp and XLUX T10 soil moisture sensor meters.

ReoTemp soil moisture meter

The battery-powered ReoTemp soil moisture meter is made from stainless steel and has a lengthy 36″ probe.

It doesn’t provide moisture readings in percentages, but rather on a scale from 0 to 10. Also, calibrating instructions are on the side of the unit and the back of the box.

The item has dimensions of 17.8 x 2.8 x 2 inches and weighs 9.9 ounces.

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XLUX T10 soil moisture sensor meter

The XLUX T10 soil moisture sensor meter doesn’t require batteries and will give you accurate moisture readings in percentages.

To use, insert the 7″ probe into the soil until it gives off a reading. The product also comes with an 18-month warranty.

It has dimensions of 10.4 x 1.2 x 2.2 inches and weighs 2.88 ounces.

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How to prevent the soil around your home from being too moist

So you took a moisture reading of the earth around your basement and got a reading that is too high. Although it may not seem like it, there are several things you can do to lower it.

The first step in addressing the problem is to determine where the water is coming from. If you live in an area that receives a lot of regular rainfall, then the cause can safely be attributed to rain. If you haven’t been receiving a lot of rain and the soil around your house is still always wet or moist, then there is a different type of problem such as a burst pipe somewhere underground or in some cases, even overwatering your garden.

A burst pipe would undoubtedly require the services of a plumber, but if your problem is regular rainfall, then apply the following steps.

1: Ensure that the gutters are clean: Debris and leaves in the gutters can cause water blockages, which causes rainwater to pour down over the edges instead of running out the downspouts.

2: Extend the downspouts further away from your house: If your downspouts run into a drain, then that’s perfectly fine, but if it doesn’t, then extend them about 10 feet away from your home.

3: Blockages: Make sure that the drains around your home are not blocked.

4: Sloping soil away from your house: If the ground around your home slopes down towards your house, then you will have a problem. And in some cases even if the soil is level. An easy solution is to slope the soil away from your home so that water won’t accumulate there. Ideally, slope the ground around your house by 2 inches per foot for 8 feet.

5: Install a french drain: If your situation is more severe, for example, if there are puddles of water in your yard whenever it rains, then you may want to consider installing a french drain around your home. Read more about them here.

More Information

Check out these moisture meters for drywall and wood

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