A Tool You Absolutely Must Have

If you plan to build with bales, you absolutely must have a moisture meter with a probe. It is so valuable that I consider it a “must have,” not a “it would be cool to have” tool.

Use the meter to check the moisture levels of bales before you buy them. I randomly check about 10-15 bales in a stack to see what the moisture levels are. Be sure to check the side of the stack and the top as moisture can get in either direction. Insert the probe all the way into the center of the bale as moisture in the center is almost impossible to drive out whereas some surface water on the sides of the bales can be eliminated quite easily.

You can also use the meter on site. There may be some suspect bales in the delivery you receive and rather than take a chance on installing a wet bale, the meter will allow you to check the moisture levels on the spot and make an informed decision. I keep my meter on site during every job.

Here’s a link to the meter I use. You can buy a meter like this one factory direct, or you can find them in farm supply stores. It doesn’t matter where you go to get it, just be sure you actually buy one!

6 Responses to A Tool You Absolutely Must Have

  1. Eric Thu, July 15, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    are there any sensors you can leave in the strawbale wall after construction so that you can monitor moisture levels continually?

  2. Andrew Morrison Sun, September 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Hi Eric. There are sensors and monitor panels that can be used. I have not used them myself but I know they have been used successfully in California.

  3. Lisa Sat, May 2, 2015 at 5:32 am #

    The link for the tool you use doesn’t work for me- perhaps it is broken? Can you provide another link for it or something similar? Thanks!

  4. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Sun, June 7, 2015 at 9:45 am #

    Thanks for letting me know Lisa. I have fixed the link now. Here it is (as well as fixed above in the post).

  5. gyelse Fri, February 12, 2016 at 5:32 pm #

    what is the ideal moisture level for strawbale, and at one point should one worry. I am concerned with a house whose roof was leaking and the bales may have gotten wet. Should we make holes in the stucco to let them breathe. Any thoughts would be helpful


  6. Andrew Morrison
    Andrew Morrison Wed, February 17, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

    Anything above 20% is a problem. In fact, I prefer to keep my bales as low as possible, but certainly below 18%. That said, if the bales have gotten wet, you should be able to dry them back out. You may need to drill holes in the plaster and blow warn, dry air into the cavities. Check the bales first to see where they are at. I always prefer the easiest road to success…

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