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Getting the most out of building dehumidifiers after water damage

5 min read
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Whether it’s the result of a broken pipe, a faulty washing machine or seasonal flooding, water damage can potentially be devastating to the structural integrity of a building and the health of its occupants.

Following an escape of water, the environment within a building can quickly spiral out of control. If building dehumidifiers are not put in place soon enough, water damage can quickly develop into a more serious situation, with secondary damage taking place and an increased potential for the proliferation of mould and bacteria within the living space. These typically unseen/unnoticed factors can have a detrimental impact on the wellbeing of those living or working in the area.

Naturally, this makes the work of water damage restoration professionals vital in eliminating any moisture that has penetrated into the walls, floors, ceilings, and foundations of affected buildings, so that the site retains its structural integrity and poses no threat to those within it. However, the effectiveness of this work depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • How suitable the drying equipment is for the task at hand

  • How swift the response is to the water damage in question

  • How the site is set up to manage moisture levels while excess water is being removed

In this article, we highlight 5 key considerations that can heavily influence the drying of buildings following an escape of water, ensuring that the solution employed delivers the most efficient and successful outcomes.

5 essential elements to drying out water damage

1. Good response times

First and foremost, time is of the essence when it comes to dealing with water damage. Within 24-48 hours of water exposure in an area, mould and bacteria can begin to develop and, over time, begin to cause damage to the structure of the building and create a health hazard, particularly if the moisture level remains high.

This makes swift identification and response to water leaks and flooding immensely important to how effective the drying of the building will be, and how long it will take to rid the area of all excess water.

It will also depend on what building materials are impacted by water damage. For instance, a piece of wood will absorb water at a significantly different rate compared with a material such as concrete or stone. Some materials give up the excess water quickly, whereas others take much longer to release the bound water into the environment.

While it is nearly impossible to calculate the 100% correct dehumidification requirement in a water damage situation, understanding the materials involved, the environmental conditions at the time, the construction type and how long the water has had to penetrate the structure is key to determining what type of drying solution is required and how long it is likely to take to resolve the issue. It is important to remember that your drying installation on day one may not be the same as your drying requirement on day five.

2. Securing and stabilising the area

Once an area has been affected by an escape of water or flooding, it is critical that it is stabilised as quickly as possible. The initial stabilisation phase can start with simple tasks such as safely removing any standing water from the room, removing wet carpets, ensuring that the heating remains turned on and providing good ventilation, such as the opening of windows.

In order to properly prepare the area to give your building dehumidifiers the best environment to operate, the following steps are recommended:

  • Identify and close off the source of the water intrusion as quickly as possible

  • Ventilate the area as much as possible and ensure that any heating system is left switched on. Both of these steps will help control the relative humidity in the first hours after the incident.

  • If you have access to a dehumidifier, install one temporarily until a drying contractor is on site to assess the damage.

  • Remove any wet items and debris from the site were appropriate, as this will increase the drying time and require the dehumidifier to use more energy

  • Get rid of any particularly porous or absorbent material in the area that cannot be successfully and cost-effectively restored

  • Either safely remove saturated carpet from the area or, if that is not possible, use a carpet extractor or wet/dry vacuum on these early on in the process

3. Choosing the right building dehumidifier

Particularly in circumstances such as flooding or significant water leaks, a domestic or residential building dehumidifier will typically not be capable of dealing with these volumes of moisture. Furthermore, most household dehumidifiers having a limited internal tank capacity, these would need to be emptied many times over for consistent drying, which is both time-consuming and impractical.

Consequently, it is important that a commercial or professional water damage drying dehumidifier, such as those found in Aerial’s specialist range of portable dehumidifiers, is employed for these tasks. With greater capacity for continuous drying, high-performance for maximum efficiency, and adjustable relative humidity control, these can suitably maintain optimal dehumidification conditions of around 20-30°C and 30-40% RH.

A condensing dryer, also referred to as a refrigerant dehumidifier, is the most energy-efficient way of processing excess moisture in a living space. When the relative humidity is reduced by the dryer, the latent energy held within the water vapour in the air (known as enthalpy) is converted into sensible heat as a phase change takes place – this heat continually aids the drying process.

4. Utilising high-volume fans

To support the work of your building dehumidifiers in drying out a water-laden location, high-volume fans can be a powerful ally.

These fans will cause water to evaporate faster than it would unaided, which then makes it easier for the dehumidifiers to remove the moisture out of the drying environment. This helps them dry it out at a noticeably faster rate, minimising drying times and reducing the amount of damage static water can potentially do to the area in question.

5. Accurately verifying the results

Fifth and finally, it is important that you don’t rely on touch alone to verify that all excess water has been removed from materials. While the area might seem dry on the surface, if water has been allowed to seep into the deeper layers of the building, this can continue to breed mould and bacteria, causing substantial damage over time.

Therefore, it is recommended to use a range of professional moisture measurement equipment to check that materials have reached a suitable level of dryness, removing all risk of below-surface water coming back to haunt the area.

Discover a better way to dry buildings with Aerial

The consequences of unchecked water damage on buildings and their occupants can be devastating over time. We hope that this article has helped you recognise what is required to dry buildings most effectively, so that the threats posed by untreated water damage are never allowed to spiral out of control.

At Aerial, our selection of mobile condensing dryers, adsorption dryers and air-exchange systems have helped water damage restoration professionals across Europe perform their duties more efficiently, cost-effectively and successfully, delivering quality results for their clients.

Moreover, our range of water damage restoration dehumidifiers, including pressure drying and targeted heat drying solutions, are especially effective at drying out water damage found in multi-layered building constructions.

Get in touch today to learn more about our market-leading solutions.

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