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By: Claude Blackburn


Diagnosing Structural Moisture
Flood Restoration is More Than Drying Carpet!
When we discuss structural materials we are generally talking about flooring, sub-flooring, drywall, plaster and
framing materials. For this discussion, we also need to include cabinets, doors, and insulation materials in its
many variations. Diagnosing, evaluating, monitoring, drying and restoring structural materials and contenets
represent a much more exciting challenge than handling wet carpet.

Today we realize that drying a wet carpet may be the least of our professional responsibilites. Evaluating all
the water damage materials properly requires specialized tools, common sense and more experience than
the evaluation of carpet. Our job is to dry and restore all affected materials. We can even be held liable for an
incomplete drying service. Our customers expect a complete drying and restoration job including structural
materials and contents. Today, we know that the job isn't complete until all the materials are dry.
HUMIDITY, TEMPERATURE, AIRFLOW AND TIME
&
Mildew Detection
Three stages of Mold & Mildew
developing in wall interior on
back surface of drywall.
Flat brown Mushroom Fungus
found in area behind bathtub.
Experts at detecting & eliminating
structual Mold & Mildew, and
preventing its harmful effects to the
property, and to the health of its occupants.
The restoration job isn't complete until all the materials have been dried! That includes both the contents and
affected structural materials.

While many restorers evaluate the moisture in the carpet and pad, those same restorers may not consider
evaluating the moisture condition of much more expensive structural materials. Carpet and pad are extremely
porous and therefore are quite easily dried. Most structural materials are somewhat more dense, release
moisture more slowly, and require a higher level of diagnosis, drying and restoration.

When on-site drying methods strated gaining popularity in the mid 70's, most companies really offered a
"wet carpet service". The word restoration was really an over statement of the service rendered. The "cleaner"
extracted the water and "dried" the carpet and cushion. Basically, if the probe offers a response, the fabric was still
too wet and more drying was required. The only exception is when the technician gets a " false" reading from
metallic materials or high concentrations of urine. In most cases the technician didn't concern himself with
the remaining structure moisture.
Before we discuss diagnostics of water damage materials, we should review some very fundamental aspects
of the drying process.

The four basic factors which determine how well (and fast) materials become dry, are humidity, temperature,
airflow and time. Relative humidity is expressed as a percentage of moisture the air is at 60% Rh, the air is
holding 60% of what it can hold at that temperature. Without addressing every consideration, the best relative
humidity for drying is the lowest Rh, which can be cost effectively attained during restoration.

Specific humidity is different than relative humidity. Specific humidity is the actual amount of water in the air by
weight. This is normally expressed as grains of moisture per pound of air. The specific humidity determines
which "direction" a mass of air will move in an evironment. High specific humidity "creates" a higher vapor
pressure. High pressure moves towards low pressure. Understanding vapor pressure can help us when to
convert from an open drying system to a closed drying system. It has many other ramifications to our water
damage work.