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Recently, I had an insurance adjuster tell me that his company would no longer pay for an extra large dehumidifier, such as a Phoenix 200 Max or Phoenix 200 HT on residential jobs. They will, however, pay for a smaller low grain refrigerant such as the Phoenix R175 or Dri-Eaz Evolution. This kind of made me mad at first and then I put a pencil to it and realized that if you size your dehumidifiers correctly to the job then this particular insurance company will end up paying you more money on every claim.

Here’s an example of what I am talking about. Let’s use a 2000 sf. home with 10 foot ceilings as our example. Let’s say the home is two story and floods from the bathroom upstairs and goes downstairs. If I were to dry this home I would need 500 pints of dehumidification to be able to effectively control the moisture to dry the structure. (This is according to the Dehumidification Chart which is included). First off let’s use a Phoenix 200 HT which is rated for 143 pints per day. So that means I would need 3.4965034 dehumidifiers. Since we always round up then I would need 4 to dry this house. The cost for four Phoenix 200 HT’s would be $417.16 per day. That is $104.29 per unit (per Xactimate).

If I used the Phoenix R175 which is a medium low grain dehumidifier that pulls 90 pints of water per day then I would need 5.55555 dehumidifiers or 6 to do the same job. Those six dehumidifiers would cost $76.41 per day or a total cost of $458.46 per day for all six. If I used the Dri-eaz Evolution to dry this job above it would take 8 units. The Dri-Eaz Evolution is a 70 pint per day dehumidifier, which is half of the Phoenix 200 HT. This would cost $611.28 per day.

Another factor looking at this from a restoration point of view would be that the Phoenix 200 HT’s pull 7.5 amps per unit or 30 amps for all 4 in our example. The Phoenix R175 pulls 6.1 amps per unit or 36.6 amps for the 6 that would be needed in the example. Then, finally, the Dri-Eaz Evolution pulls 5 amps per unit so we would need 40 amps total. Seeing as we are already strapped for electricity on most larger jobs, it would not be beneficial for me to buy and use inferior and insufficient equipment such as the Phoenix R175 or the Dri-Eaz Evolution to dry an entire house.

Small and medium dehumidifiers were made for small areas such as drying a bathroom, or drying a small bedroom where you can place the unit in the room and close the door. This would be the most efficient use for these units, not drying an entire structure. I would make more money, in the short term, if I could get all the equipment needed plugged in to the house, but that might be difficult. Most restoration companies do not size the dehumidifiers to the job (see dehumidifier calculation chart below). They may only put in what they have on the truck.

The insurance company is counting on the fact that most restoration companies will not put in the correct number of R175’s or Evolution’s. Then they will save money. Of course the house may not be dry quickly or there may be secondary damage, longer dry times, and unhappy customers. This could actually end up costing the insurance company more in the long run. So, not only will the equipment cost the insurance company more money in rental but also in the fact that we need more electricity to run all these extra machines. This too will end up making jobs cost more due to the rental of electrical spider boxes or dryer plug converters or electricians to wire in more electricity from a breaker box or a generator.

While I would stand to make more money, it would not be a good business practice to start using inferior equipment. My thought when I was buying equipment was what equipment lets me dry the most jobs, most efficiently, and have to purchase the least amount of equipment. This way I can get on a job get it dry as fast as possible and get the equipment to the next job. I would also prefer to take daily readings on 4 dehumidifiers rather than 8 dehumidifiers. My other goal was to be known as the company that dries things thoroughly, tears up less, and does it all faster than any of the other guys in town. If I can do this then the adjusters would be more willing to call me on the next job they get.

If an insurance company wants to control cost and make sure structures are dry, they need to start requiring that all companies size their dehumidifiers to the job and require that they only use XL dehumidifiers. They should start requiring to see their daily humidity charts which show the specific humidity of the outside, inside, unaffected areas, dehumidifiers, and HVAC. If a company is checking a job daily and understands how to read their humidity charts then this would lower their cost per job because they can dry more efficiently. I know this for a fact because most of my jobs come in under what the adjuster approves for my bill, since I use the XL dehumidifiers.

To top it off we also rip out less than most companies and do everything we can to restore the structure rather than rebuild. Close to 75% of all my jobs that we dry either need no repairs or just a handyman to replace the mdf baseboards or particle board toe kicks. Most of the time, we will even dry the carpet and pad in place. So, to me, it seems that either this insurance company will cause the restoration industry to go backwards by requiring the use of smaller more inefficient equipment or they can push the industry forward and create more saving for themselves while encouraging the use of the most efficient equipment on the market and requiring more education for the technicians doing the jobs. In the mean time, I will be sizing my dehumidifiers correctly to every job and making more money.

This article was published on Tuesday 17 July, 2012.

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