The Fine Art of Restoring Water Damage

Restoring water damaged items isn’t just a matter of drying them out. It requires continuous monitoring of humidity, temperature, and moisture. Drying items too slowly can lead to mold growth, while drying them too quickly can lead to cracking and warping.

Every year, water damage affects more than a million homes, leading to billions of dollars, just in insurance claims. That doesn’t count all the affected homeowners that do not file claims. Structural drying technology is vital to minimizing water damage, even when no claim is filed.

Many insurance adjusters don’t understand the restoration process and, as a result, get into a mindset where every restoration should be done in a specific time frame, but it doesn’t really work that way. A job takes as long as it takes, depending on just how waterlogged the structure and contents are, the humidity, and the temperature. Constant monitoring of these factors is necessary to determine when items are finished drying.

In the past, companies used fans to accelerate drying. Now, drying techniques are a bit more scientific, with dehumidifiers, refrigerant, desiccants, pumps, and wand extractors. These new techniques can be as much as a thousand times more effective than older methods.

The science behind water restoration is known as psychrometry, or the science of drying, and involves precise control of the relationship between temperature and humidity, as well as the use of high tech equipment to determine just how much moisture is in the air, and moisture sensors to measure the amount of moisture in a material.

There are four major steps in the water restoration process:

Assessing damage and moisture content of both the air and the damaged materials. This includes determining water source and finding areas of moisture using moisture sensing equipment. Some items (such as carpet) may feel dry, but still be wet below the surface.

Diagnosing water quality and determining whether items can be safely restored or must be replaced, as well as determining any precautions needed and expected dry time. Precautions may include personal protective equipment for the crew if the water contains or could contain contaminants or sewage.

Establish goals of the project, methods and equipment to be used, and a plan for monitoring progress.  There are IICRC guidelines that help determine what kind of equipment and how much refrigerant and/or desiccant are needed. Constant monitoring allows the restoration professional to make adjustments as needed.

Determining that the structure and contents have been restored to pre-loss condition.