Containment can be critical in reducing drying time. In a recent job at a self insured Boston-area high tech firm, a water pipe burst in an adjacent room causing minor flooding in the main conference facility. The wall and rug were saturated in several areas and our client needed to use the room for a meeting in three days. We had to work smart and dry it out fast. This was a large conference room measuring 75' by 100'. Without a containment system , it would have required much larger and more costly dehumidifiers That's where our use of the ZipWall barrier system made us look like heroes. First, we were able to gain maximum drying efficiency by sectioning-off a smaller area measuring just 25'x 25'. This meant we needed less equipment and it improved operating efficiency. We were in and out in 2 days. This ZipWall system is based on a telescoping, spring loaded pole. Plastic sheet is secured at the top of the pole between an interlocking head and plate. The telescoping action lets you raise the sheeting without a ladder and the spring loading makes it easy to lift the pole to tuck the sheeting underneath during setup.
ZipWall is just one of the ways Puritan Flood Restoration works smarter to make recovery and restoration as fast as possible.The bottom line, by drying only part of the room, we were able to use a much smaller dehumidifier, saving our customer hundreds of dollars.
Today I received a call that a pipe had burst in a Condominium in Newton, Ma. When I arrived, I found that the owners of the Condominium had left for Florida for the winter. I am sure before they left, they had their mail forwarded to Florida, stopped their Boston Herald delivery and told their neighbors to keep an eye on their home. But it was the last thing they had done, which had ruined their beautiful home. They had turned down their heat to fifty degrees, and that act was like playing Russian roulette with a very high probability for a pipe break.
We run into scenarios like this over and over again when temperatures plummet. Condominium owners and renters who leave for vacation, turn down (sometimes even turn off) their thermostats. They believe this because they have a Condominium or apartment to their left, right, above and below, so therefore their pipes won't freeze....... right? This mindset sounds logical, but it doesn't work, the pipes will freeze.
When you do leave your home for an extended period of time, you may turn your temperature down, but don't lower it less 55 degrees. Also if you're leaving your home for an extended period of time, think about purchasing a programmable freeze alarm . A freeze alarm is connected to the phone lines, and when the temperature reaches a programmed setting that you set, you will receive a phone call. It will play a pre-recorded message stating that the temperature has reached its alarm setting. You can then call a family member, or friend to go to home and check for the problem. So go on that vacation with the peace of mind that your pipes won't freeze.
Good luck and Stay Dry...!
Freeze Alarm Links:
brother and I started our water damage restoration firm in 1982, we have dried
over three thousand homes. Practically
every job we have had, we would always hear the same question from our
customers “How can you tell my walls are wet, they look fine to me?” I then introduce to them the moisture meter,
and they were all fascinated with it and how it works.
We use two
types of moisture meters - Penetrating and Non-Penetrating
moisture meters use two sharp pins or probes that are inserted into a material
or structural element which you suspect is wet. An electrical current passes
from one pin to the other and the resistance is measured and that resistance
determines the amount of moisture within the material. This type of meter is great for determining
the moisture content in wood and for checking carpeting for moisture as well.
moisture meters do not use pins, but rather sensors. These types of sensors
work by sending an electronic signal into the material and measures power loss. The benefit of using this type of meter is
that you do not have to put holes into your drywall to determine if it’s wet or not. Also you can check large areas
quickly to determine where the moisture is located.
How we do
it at Puritan
Flood Restoration we always check the drywall after a flood using a non-penetrating
moisture meter. The Technician will find
a known dry area in an undamaged area of the home or business. Then they will
use that reading to establish a “drying standard”. This drying standard is what the technician
will consider dry. They will then use
that reading as their “drying goal”. The Technicians then sets up our drying equipment
to dry those areas until the walls reach our drying goal.
meters run from inexpensive to very expensive. For a water damage restoration
firm like ours, a more expensive one is necessary. But for the home owner an inexpensive one will
work just fine. The inexpensive ones
will usually be a penetrating moisture meter that will show you whether something
is wet or dry.....................Good Luck and Stay Dry!
Wet concrete, how dry should it be? This is an area that is still a little controversial. After water damage has occurred in a home or building, in addition to the walls and carpeting being effected, wet concrete is sometimes involved. Some water damage firms believe that the correct way to dry the wet concrete is using air movers and a dehumidifier for a few days and then let it naturally. Other firms believe that the home should be restored back to a pre-loss state like the insured had it before the water damage occurred. While others will ask what type of floor covering was there before and what the owner plans on putting on the wet concrete once it’s dried.
All three views are correct but the later, in my opinion is the best option to follow. The water damage technician should ask what type of floor covering will be laid over the concrete and then determine how dry that wet concrete floor should be. (what is an acceptable moisture content percentage)
A wet concrete floor in an unfinished basement will definitely need some drying, but only enough to get as much moisture out of it in a couple of days as the Water Damage Technician can. But what if it’s a home with a wet concrete slab and the home owner plans on re-installing vinyl floor covering back on it? How dry then should the concrete be? Will the insurance company pay for all that extra time and expense to dry the concrete? This floor covering scenario will make drying the wet concrete much more of an important issue. Any vapor barrier put over a wet concrete floor will slow down the moisture escaping and greatly increase the potential for mold to develop and thrive. In addition, most of the glues used in public buildings today are water based, so excessive moisture can cause problems with the glue, causing adhesion issues and void many manufacture warranties.
Once a drying plan for the wet concrete is determined, the Insurance Adjuster should be informed of all these issues. The insurance adjuster is the one who is going to be paying for the drying bill so the Technician should justify to the adjuster, the need for spending the extra time and expense to dry that wet concrete flooring to a certain moisture content.
Thus, it is very important for the Water Damage Technician early on to try to determine what the floor covering is going to be, and formulate their drying goals for that wet concrete.
Some great links for drying wet concretehttp://www.cement.org/tech/cct_floors_moisture.asp http://www.itwresintech.com/pdf/library/mea_rem.pdf
Walking downstairs into your basement after a long day at work only to see, water flooding that new carpet you had just installed last week, or that ceiling in your living room has water pouring out of the recessed lights. What do you do?
Here are some steps to take immediately.
- Grab a flash light (even during the day if you have had a basement flood).
- Shut off the electricity at the breakers to those areas affected.
- Before you walk into the water damaged area, look for any potential hazards. Is the ceiling about to collapse, is the floor slippery, is that chandelier about to fall, etc?......Be Careful !!!!!!!
- Try to determine what has caused the leak. If it is a leaking pipe, shut the water off to the whole house. This shut off is usually located in the basement or right next to where the water pipe enters your home.
- If you determine the flood in your basement is sewerage, leave the basement immediately and wait for the professionals to arrive. This type of flood damage is hazardous to you and your family’s health. If you have young children or someone who is immune compromised, it would be wise to leave your home and not return until the Restoration Contractors have finished decontaminating the effected area.
- If the water is not deep, put aluminum foil or plastic wrap under furniture legs. This will protect your furniture as well as protecting the carpet from getting stained from the furniture. Sometimes the stain will transfer from the furniture to the carpet, which if it happens, can permanently damage the carpeting.
- Turn the temperature down below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Move anything which might break in the water damaged areas before the Restoration Contractors arrive. By doing this now there is less chance for them to break that family heirloom.
- Remove everything small and light from the floor, for example, shoes, books, magazines, boxes etc. Clean out everything stored in your closets, so when the Restoration Contractors are working, they will have easy access to those areas.
- Any furniture which is light, try to move them to a dry area of the house.
- Tie up any drapery so they are not sitting in the water.
Finally do not throw out anything that’s water damaged until you have spoken with your insurance company. If the flood is caused by a leaking pipe and you have home owners insurance or renters insurance you are probably covered for this type of loss. But to be safe, you should call your insurance agent first to see if you are covered by insurance. If you are covered, wait until the insurance adjuster comes and inspects your home before you throw anything out.
Check out Puritan's Article about drying your flooded basement!
We were called to a local condominium after a flooding incident.
Workers, working in a second floor unit during a bathroom remodeling job, broke a pipe causing the water to cascade down to the floor below. During our inspection we found wet carpeting and walls. Drying the carpeting would be easy, we would extract the water out of the wet carpet, and then set up air movers to dry them. The walls were another issue, these walls had vinyl wallpaper on them making it very difficult to dry.
During our discussion with the property manager, he said "do what ever you can to save the wallpaper. If we have to remove this paper, we will have to replace all of it in the 300 foot long common hallway".
Watch the Video and find out What Happened....
Disaster – What to do after a Flood
* Only return home only when local officials have declared the area safe. Listen to your
local radio or TV
stations for updates.
* Before entering
your home, look outside for loose
power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation
cracks or other damage.
* Parts of
your home may be collapsed or damaged.
Approach entrances carefully. See if porch
roofs and overhangs have all their
* Watch out
for wild animals, especially poisonous
snakes that may have come into your
home with the floodwater.
* If you smell
natural or propane gas or hear a
hissing noise, leave immediately and call the
* If power
lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
* Keep children and
pets away from hazardous
sites and floodwater.
such as cleaning products, paint,
batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel
containers are hazardous.
* Check with
local authorities for assistance with
disposal to avoid risk.
cleanup, wear protective clothing, including
rubber gloves and rubber boots.
* Make sure your food
and water are safe. Discard
items that have come in contact with
floodwater, including canned goods, water
bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle
nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
* Do not use
water that could be contaminated
to wash dishes, brush teeth,prepare
food, wash hands, make ice or make baby
* Contact your
local or state public health department
for specific recommendations for boiling
or treating water in your area after a
disaster as water may be contaminated.
The above checklist can be found at The American Redcross along with additional information.
This past spring we were called to flooded townhouse in Boston. Upon arrival we found an entire finished basement wet. Puritans Water Damage Supervisor checked the walls with a moisture detector and found them totally wet sixteen inches off the floor. My crew then started the water extraction process, after which they then set up drying equipment. Their goal was to try to dry the wet walls and carpeting.
The following day I met with the insurance adjuster and home owner to explain to them what Puritan had done and how I expected the drying to go. After some discussion, the adjuster told the home owner that the insurance company would cover the expense to replace the water damaged carpeting we were trying save.
Speaking with the home owner later that day, he told me once he received the money from the insurance company, he wanted to totally renovate the basement living area. The advice I then gave him was to speak with the contractors installing the sheet rock and instruct them to "Leave the sheet rock one- quarter inch off the floor when they install it. The baseboard would cover the sheet rock gap, and if a flood were to ever happen again and the water's not to deep, your walls won't get wet".
This past Sunday I again received a frantic phone call from that same home owner in Boston, his basement had flooded again. Puritan Technicians were dispatched, they again extracted all of the water and set up air movers and a dehumidifier to begin the drying process.
There were two differences this time.
- The water flooding the basement was ground water which was not covered by insurance.
- The walls were dry.
The walls were dry, how could that be?............ The home owner did as I had suggested, and told the dry wall contractors to leave that 1/4" gap between the sheet rock and flooring. So with a little bit of planning during any construction project, you can minimize the problems which arise due to water damage.
Flood damage restoration has come a long way since 1982 when I started in the Water Damage Restoration field. Back then, the majority of the restoration companies were really just "wet carpet drying services”. These companies did not concern themselves with the structure or its contents. Today carpet drying is a small aspect of the restoration process. Carpets typically can now be dried in one or two days, whereas the structure and its contents can typically take three to four days to dry depending on the structural materials affected.
Some of the innovative tools introduced over the years to assist us in drying homes and businesses are the low grain dehumidifier (LGR), heat drying systems, low amperage air movers and wall cavity drying systems to name a few.
With all these tools for us to use now, there are still instances where I come across jobs where a "flood company" had be called in to dry out a flooded home, only to find that the Technician was drying wet carpets and not the walls. I'm amazed that after twenty-seven years in this industry there are still those companies out there who are still just "carpet drying companies". Thankfully these companies are now few in numbers, thanks to the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) our industrys governing body. The IICRC puts it Water Damage Technicians thru a rigorous course where we are then tested to ensure that Water Damage Technician who is certified by the IICRC knows how to use the most up to date equipment and is well versed in technical side of drying.
Therefore, unless you want history to repeat itself, make sure that when you hire a water damage restoration firm , they are in fact certified by the IICRC and you will know that your walls will be dried as well as your carpeting.
Want to learn more about flood abatement? Download the free article on how to save money with new flood abatement techniques.