Yesterday I received a call from a Newton, Ma resident who said she had a water damaged carpet in her basement. Apparently her water heater leaked in her basement, causing part of the carpet to get wet. She called to ask whether or not she should let the carpet “dry itself”, or have Puritan Flood Technicians come to her home to dry it.
Carpeting when left wet, can lead to the Carpet Delaminating. What this means is that the adhesive holding the secondary backing to the primary backing, separates. (See the photo on the right). The reason this happens is because today, most carpet manufacturer’s uses synthetic latex to bind the primary backing to the secondary backing. When this glue like substance gets wet, it gets weaker, thus the carpet loses strength and can get damaged.
In this case, I told her that it would probably be best to have our technicians stop by to look at her water damaged carpet. If the technicians thought there might be the potential for some carpet damage, it should be take care of by a professional.
After the torrential rains this past summer, I was called to a flood job in Brookline MA. Upon arriving, I found the entire finished basement had water damage. The home owner was unsure as to where the water had come from. He said he never had a problem with a wet basement in the past. After my technicians extracted the water, they found that water was seeping in thru a crack on the floor. I showed the owner where the water was coming from and explained that “because this was not a pipe break, unfortunately, it probably would not be covered by insurance.” (But I did suggest that he call his insurance agent to be sure).
Next, I figured out the amount of equipment needed to dry out the home so I could give the home owner an estimation of what it would cost. After giving him a price, the home owner asked me a great question “what is the difference between AC and a Dehumidifier?” “Because central air conditioner removes humidity, right?” The home owner thought that he could save a little money by not renting a dehumidifier.
I explained to him that the difference between AC and a dehumidifier is not very great. An air conditioner like a dehumidifier pulls warm moist air over its cold coils; the difference is that AC does not reheat the air before exhausting into your home. What you get is nice cold air blowing out of the Air conditioning unit. It also doesn’t have a humidistat, so when the home reaches a preset temperature the AC will shut down, even though your home may still have high humidity. But more importantly, depending on when you turn on the air conditioner, it may do more harm than good. For example if the temperature in your flooded home is 74⁰ degrees Fahrenheit and the relative humidity (RH) is 90% and you turn on the air conditioning system, when the cool air coming out hits the dew point at about 70⁰ degrees it’s going to start raining (condensation) all over the inside of your home. So it’s best to use a dehumidifier and not an air conditioning to help dry out your home. The dehumidifiers job is solely to remove humidity.
There are times however when an air conditioning system can help if certain conditions are present. But this should be left up to a water damage restoration professional to monitor the home’s environment to determine when it is the best time to turn on and off the AC unit.
In conclusion the difference between an AC and a dehumidifier is not much, but the usefulness of each system can be quite different in each situation.
When carpet drying, water extraction is the most important part of the drying process because it removes most of the water from the carpet. Once the extraction is done there is always some remaining water left, and this water is removed thru evaporation. To help with evaporation, Water Damage Restoration firms use carpet dryers also known as air movers. These carpet dryers will move a high volume of air across the carpet which removes the boundary layer of wet air near the surface of the carpet. The faster the air movement over the carpet (with adequate humidity reduction) the faster the carpet will dry. Thus, these carpet dryers will greatly increase airflow and speed the up drying process and also minimize the likelihood of mildew growth.
So, when drying a carpet, you extract water and then strategically set up the carpet dryers. If the carpeting is glued down to the floor without a pad, we place the carpet dryers on top of the carpet and blow air over the top of the carpeting; this dries the carpet very quickly.
If the carpet is stretched-in on tackless strips, and has a pad, we position the carpet dryers to force air under the carpet creating a tent like effect; this forces the carpet off the floor on a cushion of air. This type of drying is called sub surface drying. It will dry the carpeting and the pad. Once dry, the water damage firm will have to re-attach the carpet to the tackless strip.
An alternative to sub surface drying is using a weighted extraction tool during the water extraction phase. These new extraction tools can actually extract the water out of the carpet and padding. Instead of having to sub surface dry the carpeting, technicians can place the carpet dryers on top of the carpet. This type of carpet drying minimizes the chance that the carpeting will be damaged when the wet carpet is disengaged from the tackless strip.
Finally, the carpet dryers will be removing all of that moisture from the carpeting and putting it into the air so you will need adequate dehumidification. If you do use a dehumidifier, that moist air will absorb into walls, ceilings, papers, paintings etc. causing secondary damage?
If you need carpet drying, it is best to call in a local water damage certified professional, they will have all the necessary tools, equipment and skills to dry your carpeting fast!
Good Luck and Stay Dry!!!!
* The Diagrams above come from The Complete Guide to Water Damage Restoration- Claude Blackburn
Why does a toilet backup happen? In a 1994 survey of 79 members of the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, 65 percent of the respondents reported it was because of wet weather.
They reported that between 15 and 35 percent of their sewers were filled above capacity and/or overflowed during wet weather.
Some reasons why a toilet backup can occur in your home
- Sewers and pumps too small to carry sewage from newly-developed subdivisions or commercial areas
- Blocked, broken or cracked pipes and other equipment or power failures that keep the system from doing its job. Tree roots can grow into the sewer. Sections of pipe can settle or shift so that pipe joints no longer match. Sediment and other material can build up and cause pipes to break or collapse. This can also happen to sewer service connections to houses and other buildings. Some cities estimate that as much as 60 percent of the water over-filling their sewer systems comes from service lines.
- A deteriorating sewer system. When sewers are not properly installed or maintained, widespread problems that can be expensive to fix develop over time. Some municipalities have found severe problems, necessitating billion-dollar correction programs. Often, communities have had to curtail new development until problems are corrected or system capacity is increased.
If you have a toilet backup in your home and plan on cleaning it up yourself, you should really consider hiring a professional. Sewerage exposure can be very dangerous to your health. Sewerage can effect people differently, you could get chlorea, salmonellosis ,typhoid fever, bacillary dysentery, gastroenteritis, meningitis, to name a few, all which are very dangerous. This was demonstrated in a 1988-89 epidemic of hepatitis A in Ocoee Florida, that resulted in 39 cases and one fetal death.
Leave the cleaning up to a certified professional who has had the training in water damage restoration. These Technicians will come to your home or business and formulate a plan to decontaminate it and its contents. They will ensure that when they are done, the areas effected will be totally clean and safe.
Click here For a more indepth article on "toilet backups "
For those of us living in Boston Massachusetts, hurricane preparedness has not really been much of an issue in our life time. The last great hurricane that struck the northeast was back in September of 1938. Wind gusts reached Category 5 strength in eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts west of Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod. The anemometer at the Blue Hill Observatory registered a peak wind gust of 186 m.p.h. before the instrument broke. The storm killed over 600 people and is considered to be the worst hurricane to strike New England in modern times.
Fast forward to Labor Weekend of 2010, Hurricane Earl is heading up the coast and was expected to hit Cape Cod Massachusetts and the Islands. Was Hurricane preparedness then on New Englander’s minds? Yes and no, New Englanders are a hearty bunch and not much about the weather fazes them. They treated this storm like any other nor’easter; they filled up their car with gas, bought batteries and stocked up their refrigerators. Luckily Hurricane Earl past us by with nary a bit of wind and rain.
What we didn’t do, is what the Floridians and Louisianans’ have been doing every time a hurricane is heading their way, buttoning down their hatches and securing everything. This is the basic hurricane preparedness steps that southern coastal states do out of habit. Below, is a minimum list of hurricane preparedness steps a home owner should take no matter where they live.
Hurricane Preparedness List
- Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- French doors - Brace with 2 X 4’s
- Ornamental Shutters - Remove and store out of the wind.
- Consider building a safe room. Locate the safest areas in your home and places to meet. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home, but someplace else within your community.
- Electrical Appliances - Unplug from wall outlets.
- Swimming Pool - Drain approximately one foot of water from the pool.
- Storage Shed - Tie down the shed using straps or thick rope and attach to ground.
- Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your homes vulnerability to storm surges, flooding and wind.
- Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single contact point.
- Make a plan what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
- Check your insurance coverage - this type of flood damage is not usually covered by home owners insurance.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.
While writing this hurricane preparedness blog article it made me think of a quote by Louis Pasteur “Chance favors only the prepared mind”. By being prepared for a hurricane before it’s at your front door, the chances of you and your family coming thru it unscathed will be greatly increased.
Who could believe rain in February? Most Bostonians rejoiced that it rained and not snowed like the rest of the rest of the country which had record breaking snowfalls. However there are some Bostonians who wished it had snowed, not because they like skiing but because their basements flooded due to the heavy rains. Inevitably whenever the North East gets a lot of rain in a very short time, basements flood and the most important tool a home owner needs in a basement is a Sump Pump.
The majority of our customers with flooded basements who needed our services to pump out their basements all had Sump Pumps; however those pumps failed to work when they were most needed. A large percentage of these flooded basements could have been prevented. How you ask? With preventative maintenance.
Sump pumps are like clothes dryers and dishwashers they both need periodic maintenance to operate efficiently. It is recommended that in the states where rain and flooding is more prevalent, sump pumps should be tested every few months, while other states that only have periodic flooding, they should be tested twice per year.
Sump pump maintenance:
- After a Heavy Rain - Check the inlet screen for any blockage. This is one of the leading causes of pump failure
- Fill the sump pit up with water to make sure the pump is working.
- Once the pump starts to work, go outside to see if the pump is actually pumping water, or place your hand around the pipe to feel if the water is passing thru it. You must check to see if the pump is actually pumping water because sometimes the pump will turn on but not actually pump anything.
- Make sure that the float controlling the pump is not restricted or getting hung up.
- If the pump has a back-up battery, it should be replaced every second or third year.
Finally if your home does flood due to the malfunction of your sump pump, be aware that your home owner's policy almost always excludes sump pump failure. My advice to you would be to call your insurance broker to see if you can add a sump pump clause to onto your policy. The cost for this is very small compared to the thousands of dollars it might cost you if that pump does fail and you end up with two feet of water in your finished basement.
Frozen pipes seem to be almost a daily occurrence during these cold winter spells in New England. For instance, yesterday I was contacted by a home owner living in all places, Europe. He had relocated there and was planning on renting out his now vacant home in Newton MA. Neighbors had contacted him to say they had seen water gushing out the sliding door at the rear of his house. Upon arrival, I could hear what sounded like a water fall thru the front door. Needless to say when I entered things did not look good.
The culprit..... a frozen pipe!!! A bit of advice, during winter months whether you're moving to Europe, going south or staying at home there are some things you can do to help prevent frozen pipes.
Wrap those exposed pipes in your basement or crawl space with pipe insulation. Pipe insulation is relatively inexpensive and can be found at your local hardware store. . It's very easy to do and can be done by anyone.
Drain and turn off your outside water faucets. To do this, turn off the water supply valve inside your home and then go outside and open the water faucet. Once all the remaining water is drained out, shut off the water faucet.
During a Very Cold Spell
Any sink that is on an outside wall, you should open the cabinet doors underneath it to allow the warm air to infiltrate and keep that outside wall and pipes warm.
Open sink faucets on outside walls to a very slow trickle, this will help the pipes from freezing (moving water takes much longer to freeze).
If the worst happens and one of your faucets do freeze, open up all your other faucets to a slow trickle which will help relieve the pressure as the frozen pipe thaws to minimize the chances of that frozen pipe rupturing.
Taking just a little time to prevent a pipe from freezing will in the future reduce the stress of having water damage in your home not to mention the expense and aggravation of it all.
To quote Ben Franklin " an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"
A few months ago a high tech firm called on a Monday morning in a panic. Their server room had two inches of water under the computer room floor. Within an hour, our Technicians had removed the water and started the drying process using dehumidifiers and air movers.
What we later learned from the IT staff, the water had leaked in to the server room on Saturday evening, although Maintenance Staff had fixed the leaking pipe, they could not gain access to the server room and did not have any contact information for anyone from the company to inform them of the water damage. Not having an emergency contact number the water stayed inside the computer room for a day and half, thus increasing the chance of irreparable damage. Thankfully the firm's computer network stayed operational and no information was lost.
Puritan's advice is: Have a disaster plan in place before the inevitable happens. There is a free service ( Ready Rating Program) offered by the American Red Cross that assists business to prepare for a disaster. This Program is designed to help businesses prepare for any type of emergency, from disease outbreaks to natural disasters. The program is free but membership is required. After joining, you'll take an online assessment to determine your baseline ability to react to disasters. Then it will assist you in developing an emergency plan.
Don't be caught like the our high tech customer mentioned above, Always Be Prepared!
Blowers, also known as Air Movers, Fans or Carpet Dryers are a tool used as part of a drying process by Water Damage Technicians to dry out homes or businesses after they've been flooded.
These Blowers, or "Air Movers" are a very important part of the drying process (along with water extraction, ample dehumidification and suitable temperature conditions which I will write about in a future blog).
The main purpose of air movers ( blowers ) is to remove the wet air near the surface of the water damaged materials. This area is called "The Boundary Layer".
Removing The Boundary Layer
"Very near a wet surface, especially in stagnant air, the adjoining air is saturated: the humidity near the surface is at 100%Rh (relative humidity). The condition of the air next to the saturated air is layered in degrees of saturation. Next to the saturated air-mass the humidity is 99%, then 98%, and so on until, at in inch or so away the from the wet surface, the humidity is the same as the ambient air" *
What these blowers are designed to do so well is continually remove this wet boundary layer and replace it with warmer drier air therefore allowing evaporation to continue at a much faster pace. Also as a secondary benefit, most fungi won't grow in areas with rapid air flow.
Thus, these Blowers (Air movers) will greatly increase airflow and speed the up drying process and will minimize the likelihood of mildew growth.
*Restorative drying-The Complete Guide to Water Damage Restoration - Claude Blackburn