Drying Challenges

Do these questions sound familiar to you:

  • What do all those numbers really mean?
  • What numbers do I need?
  • When is back to the pre-loss condition?
  • Should I add more equipment or is it time to take some out?

Keep those four questions in mind for water losses.

Let’s start at the beginning.

  • What’s wet?
  • How wet is it?
  • Is it drying?
  • Is it dry?

Challenges Faced by Crews on Every Water Loss.

On every water loss, The ServiceMasterof Eugene crew will be faced with many challenges. The first is to identify what is wet. By using meters and detection devices, we will be able to answer this question. First, use hydro sensors to locate where the water went.

So how wet is it? Using meters (non-penetrating first), identify how much moisture is in the material. Remember a penetrating meter will identify the depth that the moisture has gone into a substance as well as how much is there. Penetrating meters are necessary for wood floors and for sub floors under carpet.

Is it drying? This is the tough part. Every day ServiceMaster of Eugene crews should be taking atmospheric readings as well as moisture content readings and record these readings on the two forms – the Record of Drying Conditions and the inspection report. These readings will tell them if drying is occurring.

Is it dry? Or is the job done? A dry job is where we are trying to get. How fast we get there is based on the individual loss and the question of “is it drying”? The structure must be returned to pre-loss conditions and be within the IICRC dry standard for materials. So what are pre-loss conditions and the dry standard? By bench marking the job when we start to an unaffected area, we can determine what the pre-loss condition is. This is the same as determining your goal. Unaffected building materials will tell us what the dry standard is. We must bring building materials within 4% points of this dry standard.

So what do we look at? We look at data.

Data is the key to explaining your drying job and getting paid for work completed. Daily atmospheric reading will tell you part of the picture, the moisture content readings are the other part.

  • How do you know if your readings are helping?
  • What should things look like?
  • Did we keep the equipment too long or not long enough?
  • Does a sudden spike in the grains mean we have a problem or is it that the bound water is being released?
  • How should the drying curve look on a daily basis?
  • Was a window left open last night allowing old air to be introduced into the structure?
  • What will the effect be if we remove a pice of equipment or add one?

All of the questions listed above can be answered by looking at the data. Remember Psychometrics is the science of drying and is based on data – not by guessing. Every job is different and even jobs that look the same will dry differently. The rate of evaporation and the moisture content of the materials re related. How we affect them is the challenge.

Questions to ask on a Water Loss

Going back to the question, “is it dry?” be sure to look carefully at each drying job, asking the following questions:

  • Did you record all the data?
  • Are you sure that the numbers make sense?
  • What could you have done differently or was it done properly the first time?
  • Can the dehumidifier actually put moisture back into the room? Not really. However, if we don’t have a grain depression then it appears as if it is.
  • Why are the numbers reversed?
  • Is the unit in defrost mode or is the unit too small for the job?

Grain Depression

Grain Depression will start moderately. Don’t be alarmed at the first set of readings that may show a low grain depression. As we begin the extraction process and add energy to the structure, in the form of heat, evaporation accelerates and the grain depression is at its greatest. During the job our grain depression will slowly drop. As we near the end of the job, it will level off to almost nothing.

Utilize the Right Equipment

Utilizing the right equipment is important. At the start of a job when the humidity is the highest, a standard refrigerant dehumidifier works well, assuming the temperature is above 60 degrees F. As the job progresses it is vital that we utilize either Low Grain Refrigerants (LGR) or Desiccant Dehumidifiers. These units will continue to remove the bound water from the dense building materials and continue our drying process.

Air Movement

Air movement is still a key element on every job. Use enough air movers to accelerate the energy and allow evaporation to occur. The air movers are drawing the moisture from the structure and associated contents into air and increasing the rate of evaporation.

Conclusion

Drying has advanced far beyond the days of old. no longer can we just put in a fan or two and a dehumidifier from Sears, come back in two or three days and feel the carpet and call it dry. Today we must rely on the science of drying to ensure when losses are returned to the pre-loss conditions. Remember that each step is a tool in the process and each must be used but all must be looked at together to ensure proper drying procedures.