Professional Structural Drying
Every basement the professional restorer goes into, no matter the type of flood damage encountered, will be approached in the same way. If unwanted water has migrated to building materials and/or physical structures than structural drying principles are introduced to avert mold.
This simple principle is known as structural drying which put simply is the “art and science of drying wet building materials.” As an applied science it must be done with several parameters in mind to be effective. It must be done rapidly to assure waters energy does not produce compromise to materials or an environment conducive to mold or other microorganisms to grow.
Structural drying chambers are the only recognized solution to reverse the inexorable destructive energy of waters presence. Action Extraction of Macomb is a Michigan leader in structural drying and even has a US patent on a drying system that dries wet wall structures faster and at less expense.
Flooding Types Vary but Structural Drying Strategies do not.
No two floods are the same, but the strategies and plans put into motion to tackle these difficult and challenging jobs are based on the same set of principles of science. Let us delve deeper into what structural drying entails and how we at Action Extraction use structural drying to safely and quickly dry building material and floor coverings in homes to triumph over a water damage catastrophe.
Finding water in your home is never a fun endeavor. Whether you’ve walked into your basement experiencing a sewer or sump pump backup, witnessed your toilet overflow, or walked into a raining ceiling due to a burst pipe. Finding standing water is a nightmare of monumental proportion adding stress and anxiety to any property owner.
Tools of the Trade – Moisture Detection Instruments
Standing water is almost always the first sign that you have a water damage issue in need of service, but how do we find where the water stops? Every reputable water restoration company will have a set of tools and meters specifically for this cause.
Standing water is typically easy to trace but how do we know where on the drywall the water starts and stops. Our most used and most popular tool is a non-penetrating moisture meter. This meter will allow us to find water trapped in all sorts of building material such as drywall, wood flooring or cabinets, and cement surfaces without damaging the building materials.
How Non-Evasive Technology Works
Non-penetrating moisture meters use an electrical signal sent into building material looking for a conduit. Water, being conductive in nature, will return that signal in varying concentrations leading to a reading on the meter.
First, your flood technician will find themselves a dry standard on whatever material they are attempting to read. This will inform the technician on the actual, normal standard that meter should read when there is no water saturation present. At times, this may require multiple readings on varying placing on the surface of your building material to find a consistent reading.
With drywall, we can typically read at around 4 feet from the ground, in a bottom up type flood, to find our dry standard. Any reading above that standard, even just a few percentage points, can be assumed to be wet and in need of drying service.
Penetrating Moisture Meter
So, what happens when a non-penetrating meter can’t get the job done? Flood technicians can also use a penetrating meter. This meter is typically used for things like hardwood flooring, to check carpet pad for wetness and to check insulation behind drywall.
This meter has two metal spiked prongs at the top of the meter that can be driven into wooden surfaces that often times will not read well using a non-penetrating meter. We often find that while the non-penetrating meter may tell us a floor is dry, the penetrating meter will push down into the sub floor, revealing a saturated mess.
With either meter the method is the same. Finding a dry standard is the most important part of assessing any water damage job. Structural drying would be impossible without being able to chart what was wet contrasting to that which is dry. Additionally they are indispensable in guiding the drying process as it will reveal the progression or stagnation of the attempted dry down. Seeing moisture gradually forced out of materials indicates a drying process that will work to perfection.
Structural Drying must include Air Monitoring Procedures
Now that we know how to chart the tangible wet building material, what about the actual air in the environment? How do we go about making sure the humidity is being steadily reduced and keeping secondary moisture damage at bay?
There is a moisture detection instrument for this needed step as well, the device all reputable professionals reach for is known as a calibrated hygrometer. A hygrometer is used to test the relative humidity of a flooded environment and many other useful data points such as grains per pound, dew point and temperature.
Why would relative humidity and temperature be important to a water restoration technician? Temperature and relative humidity go hand in hand on any water damage project. When relative humidity rises it also raises the dew point, or the temperature at which material will condensate. Any relative humidity above 60 percent is risking secondary moisture damage to your walls and ceilings. These understandings are all a part of the field of psychrometry which is the science of drying.
Water will almost always begin to condensate on your copper cold water lines as well as windows during the cold months at this percentage. When relative humidity reaches 80 percent, you run the risk of walls and ceilings dropping below the dew point and beginning to collect water on the surfaces.
If you have a hygrometer and have relative humidity in your home is above 80 percent and you do not have a flood team working for you it’s important that you call a local water damage restoration team immediately. In the meantime, opening doors and windows throughout your home may be enough to lower your relative humidity depending on the outside environment.
Water Removal – Mechanical Extraction
So now we know what’s wet and where. We know roughly how long and what is salvageable. What is the next step in structural drying we need to take?
Extraction is a flood techs most valuable tool. Imagine you have taken a pitcher of iced tea out of the fridge when suddenly your feet get tangled and you drop the pitcher all over the kitchen floor. In a huff you run to the hall closet, grab your trusty mop and bucket, or roll of paper towel and begin the task of soaking up iced tea splattered across your kitchen floor. This act is an act of extraction. You are pulling excess water from the surface to allow the smallest layer of water left to dry.
Which would dry quicker? Placing a fan on a cup of spilled liquid, or setting the fan on the same spill after it had been wiped with a towel? Extraction give water damage technicians the ability to pull gallons and gallons of water out of floor coverings to create an ideal drying situation.
Without extraction, dry times would have to be extended in terms of weeks in some cases instead of days. A perfect drying situation would have all building materials dried in roughly 3 to 4 days. Without extraction these dry times would be impossible and many of the building materials we dry daily would have to be removed like carpets and pad. Over the years we have extracted hundreds of thousands of gallons of water from homes and will absolutely extract hundreds of thousands of gallons more in the future. Extraction is essential to structural drying.
Exposure Principles – Air Contacting Wet Materials for Structural Drying
Once all water has been removed through extraction it is time to begin the process of drying. Exposure principles are the main component of all structural drying but what does that mean?
Exposure principles are exactly what they sound like. Any building material deemed salvageable must be exposed to rapid air flow. Drywall must be free of any wallpaper or base moldings. Any non-breathable floor coverings, such as vinyl plank or laminate floating floors, must be removed to expose any excess water trapped beneath the surface. Cabinets and wood paneling may need to be removed from the walls to allow air flow as well.
Once all the drywall is exposed to rapid air flow, holes may need to be drilled in any exterior wall, and any wall that you do not have access to the back side of. Holes in the bottom of the drywall, free from insulation, will pull excess moisture trapped in the column of the wall, encouraging both sides of the drywall to dry quickly and safely.
Unfortunately, most drywall wall containing insulation will have to be removed up to 2 feet off the ground if the interior insulation paper is saturated. Carpets will often times have saturated padding beneath them. Some padding may have a spill guard or plastic sheath trapping water in the pad and discouraging evaporation and even extraction. These padding types will almost always need to be removed regardless of the type of water damage you’re experiencing.
Cabinets are often made from press wood with a veneer over top which traps water and creates unsightly bubbles on the outside portions of your cabinets. Unfortunately, this type of water damage is irreversible and not possible to be dried aesthetically.
Once all building materials have been accessed and deemed fit to be dried, the last thing a flood technician will introduce into the environment is drying equipment.
The Equipment for Structural Drying
Just as all intelligent life needs a beating heart and flowing blood, so does a drying chamber need a dehumidifier (or two…) and circulation air.
The concept of moving air is utilized in many non-formal drying situations we as mere mortals use every day. A dryer moving hot air for your clothes, a hair dryer for your hair and a hand dryer on the wall of most bathrooms will generally get the job done efficiently.
It is no different for the expert drying professional, who recognizes that this long used principle is still the best known method to dry flooded property. The correct and strategic placement of air movers in a moisture rich room will promote and encourage structural drying.
Air Movers – Vortex Drying
Fans are introduced but not indiscriminately into an area where structural drying needs to take place. In most cases air movers will be against walls to force rapid air flow against all wet surfaces and around all corners, leaving no area untouched by air flow.
This principle is called vortex drying where one air mover’s energy will be directed to another air mover then captured and carried in the same direction creating a vortex like circular chamber. Also this makes a low pressure zone allowing for the release of moisture from all wet objects and structures.
Our professionals will place these fans in an order that will create the needed cyclone effect, carrying air from one point of the room 360 degrees back to the original fan. This is why we have an impeccable record of drying everything from common materials to structures commissioned by the Smithsonian costing hundreds of thousands.
Dehumidifiers – Moisture Removal
Dehumidifiers would be placed in strategic areas of this cyclone, pulling saturated air from the system, drying it, and reintroducing warm, dry air back into the cyclone. As this air races around the room picking up excess water being off gassed from the saturated building material around the room and returns it to the waiting dehumidifier to be recycled back into the system as dry air. This process repeats hundreds of times an hour, forcing water from your building materials and leaving you with a bone-dry home.
How Can We Help
Action Extraction is recognized as Michigan’s premiere structural drying service company. Regularly practicing vortex drying, but also featuring an advanced controlled energy system we hold a US patent on called Inst Duct Systems. Heated air is directly placed at the point of trapped moisture through a ducting system that channels dry heated air increasing evaporation through radiant heat energy. This system makes us stand out like mountain peaks from the competition and has allowed us to be recognized in the industry of structural drying as experts second to none.
These methods and techniques described above are used on all 3 types of flood damage and just some of the many tools we use on a daily basis to treat water damaged homes all over the Metro Detroit area. While we would never wish a flood on anyone, we hope that you will consider Action Extraction for all of your structural drying needs now, and in the future!