If water damage occurs in a home, there is no time to waste. You need to deal with the problem as quickly as possible. The reason is that if you let water buildup sit in your home for any length of time, the damage will spread and costly problems like mold can develop. This brings down the value of your property and most likely forces you to deal with the problem before anyone buys the home from you. So, when you discover water damage from a busted pipe, sump pump overflow, or some other kind of leak, the first thing to do is call a plumber and stop the leaking as soon as possible.
The second thing to do is bring in a professional water damage restoration company. Why? Because you may not know how much damage your property has actually suffered due to the moisture. A professional will get to the bottom of it (literally) and perform what’s called a “structural drying” to get your property restored to pre-flood condition. They accomplish this by performing a thorough inspection using state of the art imaging technology and using high-tech drying equipment to get all the moisture out of the property.
A “See Through” Inspection
While many homeowners have the impression that the only water damage that has occurred is what they are able to see, this is not necessarily the case. While the floors and carpets may be the most obvious areas that have moisture, it is also possible that the walls are wet as well. This can be difficult to detect because the moisture often settles in behind the studs. Another thing water tends to do is wick vertically up the walls like a candle. The degree to which the water will seep into the walls this way depends on the materials the walls are made of. For example, drywall tends to be very absorbent like cardboard.
In addition, if your home has wall insulation, this could be another area that will soak up moisture like a sponge. Walls that do not have insulation are much easier to dry than walls that are insulated. In most cases, the insulation will have to be removed before the drying process begins.
To detect the level of moisture in your walls, the water damage restoration company will typically use either a moisture meter or a thermal imaging camera. This allows them access to the same “see through walls” technology that is commonly used in modern medical equipment. Using this technology gives them the ability to detect the temperature differences in moist material to determine how much drying will be needed.
The Structural Drying Process
After the extent of the water damage is determined, it is time to bring in the drying equipment to get the moisture out of the property and bring it back to livable condition. The usual equipment used for structural drying is air movers (big fans that direct airflow over a small area) and dehumidifiers. Several air movers are generally placed around the house about 10 feet apart from each other. The dehumidifiers are placed in areas that are susceptible to mold growth to suck moisture out of the air and keep the mold from popping up.
A special kind of air mover may be necessary to get to harder to reach areas inside walls. These are called injectidry systems. Injectidry systems were developed to allow professionals to “inject” dry air into walls by drilling small holes and keeping wall damage to a bare minimum.
How Long Will This Take?
It is impossible to know for sure how long the drying process will take until the professional is able to determine the extent of the water damage. However, a typical structural drying will take about 3-4 days. During this process, all doors and windows must remain shut and equipment must be left on at all times to prevent mold growth. Crews will monitor the drying status daily by measuring the moisture levels and temperature in the air, as well as the level of moisture on surfaces. After the structural drying process is complete, everything must be disinfected with a non-toxic cleaning solution made specifically for water damage and mold.