Flooding from 'clean' water
March 30, 2015
I received a call from a Macomb, Mi resident the other day who said that he had carpet that had become wet from clean water. It was from a leaking water heater located in his basement. There was only a small portion of the carpet and walls that where affected and he was wondering if he could let it dry out it's self with out any specialized equipment. The problem with doing it this way would be a few things. Carpet delaminates when left wet. Delamination is when the adhesive holding the secondary backing to the primary backing separates. Because most carpets use a synthetic latex to bind the two backings together, when they get wet it breaks down and loses strength allowing the backings to separate.
The areas of walls that got wet, where also insulated, and where not open in the back to dry the paper on the back of the dry wall at all either. This would cause a high probability of mold growth in the future, as it would be a moist, damp, dark place with a food source for the mold. The paper. Eventually mold would have been mold growth on the back of the sheetrock/drywall, because of the paper backing. After taking moisture readings, and checking for insulation, I informed the customer of my suggestions. I explained the situation, and risks that he would be taking to allow this to dry by it's self. Because of the wet insulation behind the dry wall, I informed him it would be impossible to fully dry with out cutting some of the dry wall out, to remove the wet insulation. I calculated how much drying equipment would be needed for the proper dry-out of the water damaged area, and gave the customer an estimate. The customer agreed so we got to work, and his house was water free after three days of drying; which is the normal dry-out time for most jobs.
A common question I receive from customers is what is the difference between our dehumidifier, and their AC unit. Truth be told, not a whole lot. They both take humidity out in the same process. This question usually comes up from customers trying to save a little bit of money on equipment rental fees. But, there are some reasons why the AC unit will not work near as well has a commercial dehumidifier. AC units do not reheat the air before exhausting into your home, you get the nice cold air that cools your house down. Second, air conditioning units do not have humidistats, so they are not always constantly running. They shut them selves off when the desired temperature has been aquired, no matter what the humidity level in your house is. The most important reason is because depending on temperatures, and relative humidity, the AC could possibly do more harm than good.
If the temperature in your home is at 74 degrees, the relative humidity is at 90% and you turn on an AC unit, when the cool air coming out hits the dew point at around 70 degrees it's going to condensate, and drip down any cool surfaces that are 70 degrees or so. Dehumidifiers do not cause this condensation to happen, so there's no chance of a larger problem arising. Although, in some cases your water damage specialist will inform you to keep your AC unit running as it will help the process. Allow the water damage professionals to take the needed readings to make the decision; whether it will be good or bad to run the AC.