The High Costs of Ignoring Proper Drying Protocols
You are probably familiar with the expression “what you see is what you get” or the associated WYSIWYG abbreviation. Although people use the phrase in a lot of different ways, the basic idea is that there is little to no difference between what is visible to you and the underlying reality of what you are seeing.
When it comes to water losses, a WYSIWYG mindset is a dangerous concept. Especially when the loss is in an apartment building or office building where people spend a lot of time. The problem is that it’s impossible to see all of the areas that water penetrates with the naked eye. And if every area isn’t properly dried, it can lead to structural issues or mold… and the potential for expensive health-related lawsuits down the road. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you are following proper drying protocols with each and every water loss.
How Drying Jobs Go Wrong
While many companies bill themselves as restoration providers and have blowers for drying moisture, many don’t have the training and technical equipment to properly assess and resolve a water loss.
Here’s a scenario that’s all too common: After a pipe breaks or water from a storm or other source floods a floor, someone calls a carpet cleaner to clean up the impacted area. The contractor extracts standing water, pulls up any wet carpet and places blowers to dry remaining surface moisture. Then, once everything feels dry to the touch, the crew puts things back in place, pulls the equipment and considers the job complete.
The problem is that in a water loss, water usually finds its way into walls, floor joists and associated building materials. Moreover, you have a relatively short window of 72 hours to identify, treat and dry wet building materials before mold growth and structural issues set in. After that timeframe, moist areas need to be cut out. In other words, instead of a four- or five-day drying process, you could be looking at an expensive and time-consuming rebuild. What’s more, if people get sick they may blame you for negligence and for choosing the wrong type of company to do the water extraction and structural drying.
Seeing Beyond Visible Surfaces
So how can a you find a reputable provider who can tell if there is moisture trapped in walls that needs to be dried? It’s important to work with a restoration provider that has an Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) along with specialized thermal imaging and moisture meters for performing an initial damage assessment and verifying that the job is complete. If your restoration provider doesn’t use these tools to measure and monitor moisture, then one of two things will happen:
- Pulling equipment too soon will increase likelihood of microbial growth and people getting sick
- Overpaying for equipment that is used longer than it’s needed
Proper Drying Protocol: Key Steps in The Process
Understanding what to expect after a water loss can be helpful for recovery planning purposes and answering questions. Most jobs take between three to five days, but job duration can vary widely based on the specific circumstances. Here are the key steps that happen on most jobs:
- Extraction of all standing water
- Identify the type of category water present to determine proper protocols
- Removal of baseboards and carpet pads in affected areas
Moisture assessment of loss area using thermal images and moisture meters to identify all affected building materials
- Creation of a moisture map on building plan that identifies any wet building materials
- Drywall cuts as needed to ensure proper airflow in wall cavities
- Placement of drying equipment, dehumidifiers and air movers according to industry standards to achieve a dry standard as quickly as possible
- Daily monitoring of loss with humidity readings
- Removal of drying equipment only when all affected building materials are dry
Remember: The Best Outcomes Start with a Proper Assessment
When it comes to water losses, there’s much more on the line than meets the eye. To eliminate the potential of mold and the need for costly rebuilds, it’s important to make sure your restoration provider has the tools and expertise to properly assess losses on day one. And remember: water losses are a very common occurrence, so it’s well worth your time to establish a relationship with a trusted provider before you actually need help.
About the Author: Paul Licata
Paul is a National Account Manager at Interstate and has decades' worth of experience in the restoration and reconstruction industry. He also has extensive experience working with property management companies, hospitality markets, as well as healthcare facilities. Paul is currently based out of Interstate's Boyton Beach, FL office.