Restoration Tools: Drying
A solid working knowledge and familiarity of industry drying principles and proven procedures is what all water damage and drying specialists must have.
Add to that the very best tools of the trade, and you have a solid formula for water damage and drying success.
Recently, Cleanfax reached out to manufacturers and distributors of drying tools and equipment to gather information end-users can use when analyzing and investigating new purchases.
Use this information as you build your water damage and drying equipment inventory.
Grete Heimerdinger with Lignomat knows that most restoration jobs are about removing moisture — often moisture that is difficult to find.
“Using the right tools for the job can make the difference between success and failure,” she says. “You need moisture meters that cover the diverse needs for detecting moisture in the building envelope.”
To do that, Heimerdinger believes a restoration pro should have access to pin, pinless and relative humidity measurements. Using a tool with selected attachments allows technicians to measure moisture where it hides within the building envelope.
Most water damage and drying experts use technology to monitor drying with handheld meters and also onsite data loggers. But consider wireless Internet transmission of data so you can see drying results in realtime, she adds.
When looking for moisture meter products, make sure quality is at the top of your wish list, says Ron Colling, the national restoration manager with Bridgepoint and Interlink Supply. “Price is a factor, but this isn’t an area to sacrifice quality,” he says. “These are your diagnostic tools to determine your processing and end goal. This is the most important purchase after your education.”
As a business owner and entrepreneur, understanding the new technology behind air moving equipment is critical to make the proper choice for creating a wellrounded air mover fleet — which type of air mover to use and how many of each — according to Jessika James, the senior training specialist with Kärcher North America.
“There are a variety of air movers available on the market, but not all of them move air in the same fashion. On a restoration project, one can find many different and unique drying situations that necessitate the need for a specific type of air movement, whether it is CFM (cubic feet per minute), high velocity or static pressure,” James says.
Ken Horvath, founder of K&J Products, says professionals choosing air movers should take a close look at the axial style.
“Axial style air movers pay more per day,” Horvath explains. “They are thinner, lighter and require lower amps. You can fit more of them on the truck, and it allows you to put more on the job, maximizing your drying abilities.”
David Hanks, vice president of Bridgewater Companies, likes what he sees with the smaller air movers and their usefulness getting to tight spots when working on water damage jobs. “With the smaller units, you can get into closets, under stairs, [and] into cabinets, attics, crawlspaces and other cramped areas,” he says. “But don’t over-charge for these. I recommend charging approximately 50-60 percent of what you would normally charge for a full-size air mover.”
With modern technology, you can get more power with less energy, something recognized by manufacturers and part of their product offerings. “Low amperage draw with high CFM output in a light, portable package is critical for air movers on a restoration job,” according to Brian Strawn, the business development manager at Abatement Technologies.
Add to that the toughness factor. Krystyna Jutson, director of marketing with XPOWER Manufacture Inc., stresses the need for equipment that lasts. “Restoration specialists want durability for tough jobs [and] low power draw, especially when machines are daisy-chained and light weight,” she says, adding that it is important to save space. To do that, consider stackable machines, which are perfect to store in warehouses, trucks or vans.
Commercial-grade dehumidifiers are standard in the restoration industry for maintaining healthy air quality while reducing humidity, Jutson says. “The most important features include durability for continued performance in harsh environments and portability to get you from job to job quickly.”
Analyze the specifications of the dehumidification unit you are investigating. “Pints per amp is a good measure of the efficiency,” Colling explains. “Look for LGR units that can perform at the low end of the GPP (grains per pound) measurements to make sure it is able to produce as needed during the final stages of the job.”
But don’t just buy equipment and have blind faith that it is doing its job according to your drying plan. Someone has to make sure it’s doing its job correctly. How? “Document, document, document! The quickest way to lose trust with clients and adjusters is to have dehumidifiers (any equipment for that matter) that is not doing or is not capable of doing the job,” Hanks says.
“Some key factors to consider when evaluating and looking to purchase portable air scrubbers are mobility, true HEPA efficiency, reliability and durability,” states David M Shagott, president and CEO of Abatement Technologies Inc.
“Especially important in water damaged environments and in mold remediation, commercial air scrubbers with TECHNICAL TIPS Proven techniques to increase skills HEPA filtration perform an essential function in making air breathable again,” according to Jutson.
But be picky about the numbers, Colling says.
“I would suggest a mixture of larger (2000 CFM) and smaller (500-600 CFM) units, with more in the smaller category,” he advises. “Unlike high quantity water vapor (high vapor pressure) seeking a low vapor pressure area (dehumidifier), high particulate- laden air does not seek the filters in an air scrubber. Several smaller units spread out around a job site will capture more particulate than a single large unit in one location.”
Changes in design are a factor with today’s air scrubbers. According to Scott Warrington, the accessory and machine brand manager with Bridgepoint and Interlink Supply, well-designed units with steel housing are delivering the capabilities of a large unit at a significantly lower price point, “although the appearance might not be as pleasing as a roto-molded plastic body.”
Not every restoration company utilizes heat drying technology, but each year more and more add it to their toolkit. Education is a key factor, according to Colling.
“You should have a basic education of heat drying to use the equipment. Safety and control is a big consideration. Look for units with multiple safeguards and sensors for control (air temperature, moisture content, surface temperature, etc.) The ability to log the data from the sensors is a plus.”
Warrington stresses the need to monitor all aspects of the job. “The key continues to be heat the wet material, not simply heat the air,” he states. “Select equipment designed to help you direct heat to the moisture. Be sure you can monitor surface temperature and humidity to avoid over-drying.”
Why consider heat drying over more traditional methods? “Every 18 degree Fahrenheit increase in heat in wet materials doubles molecular activity, rapidly accelerating evaporation. Once it’s in the air, dehumidify and/or exhaust to the outside,” Hanks says.
There are plenty of options for restoration contractors in today’s technological world. Choosing the best equipment — combined with a proper education — means faster, more effective drying, happier clients and a profitable restoration company.
Do your homework, ask questions and build your restoration arsenal wisely.
Jeff Cross is the executive editor of Cleanfax and is an industry trainer and consultant. He can be reached via email at [email protected].