Using Heat When Drying Produces Quick Results
Time is critical when restoring water damaged structures, so many restoration companies are considering using heat when drying. There’s nothing revolutionary about the concept, but for restoration professionals, it holds a lot of promise. This is because heat can accelerate drying timelines for restoration professionals and help get the structure back to its pre-damaged state as soon as possible.
Why are restoration professionals increasingly using heat when drying?
Although drying with heat is nothing new, it still represents an intriguing option for restoration teams. Already, many restoration companies are drying structures primarily with heat, and many more are using it as a supporting mechanism during some jobs.
The science behind drying with heat is simple, and in this instance, we’re talking about convection, which uses the flow of liquid or gas to move heat. It’s an easy to grasp process – the heating equipment charges air with thermal energy, and that air is then directed over wet surfaces. When heat is added to air, it lowers the air’s vapor pressure, which encourages trapped moisture to diffuse through materials and into the now-heated air. It’s an easily-observed phenomenon that occurs every time a clothes dryer is turned on. The hot air inside the dryer pulls moisture trapped inside the clothes out through diffusion, where it is then vented outside. The principles are largely the same when drying structures with heat, though with many more challenges to consider.
Using heat when drying makes sense, but does it offer appreciable benefits over other drying methods? The answer is yes, and these are just some of them:
1. Faster drying times – This is the important point, because the faster the structure is dried, the better the results for everyone involved. Although there isn’t a lot of research into drying structures with heat, the research that does exist confirms faster drying times.
In 2013, CodeBlue, a major restoration claims management company, put its Structural Drying Laboratory to use in assessing heat drying. Specifically, CodeBlue experimented with heat drying by flooding a test structure – one filled with the same kind of materials you would expect to find in a typical residential property.
CodeBlue found that drying with heat greatly reduced drying times, and potentially by a factor of days. Relative humidity inside the structure was reduced from 63 percent to a bit less than 30 percent in under 24 hours. That kind of rapid moisture removal can offer several benefits to the structure, the building’s occupants and the restoration company.
2. Saves restorable materials – Heat is particularly effective at drying a lot of materials that other methods have difficulty with. Drying with heat is effective at removing moisture from carpets, drywall and insulation, and is particularly efficient at getting moisture out of dense materials. This includes concrete and hardwood, both of which can be ruined if they are not addressed right away. Restoration experts are already familiar with heat’s potential in saving hardwood, as it can be deployed to prevent warping or swelling.
3. Gets people back into the building quickly – This is especially important for businesses, which cannot tolerate more downtime than is absolutely necessary. As drying with heat can remove days from the job’s timeline, it is a compelling option for owners of damaged businesses.
4. Effective at drying open spaces – Rooms with high ceilings or a lot of open space are a challenge to deal with, but it’s a solvable challenge when using heat for drying. As hot air is less dense and rises, it can be applied to elevated surfaces without having to direct the air too much. This will mean easier, more complete drying high off the ground.
5. Makes an immediate impact – Drying with heat is so common because it encourages surface moisture to evaporate nearly instantly. This can be leveraged by restoration professionals to keep surface moisture from seeping into materials and becoming trapped. This will speed up drying times and protect materials from further damage.
Why it Takes an Expert to Dry with Heat
Drying with heat has considerable promise, but heat must be controlled to ensure it doesn’t result in unwanted adverse effects. Fortunately, restoration teams that have experience drying with heat know how to manage these concerns.
When air heats up, it can hold additional moisture. This is the idea behind drying with heat, but the now-humid air must be properly handled to ensure that humidity doesn’t travel to another part of the structure. If humid air escapes into other rooms, it can result in problematic condensation. Restoration teams counter this by pairing the heat drying equipment with standard LGR and desiccant dehumidifiers. The dehumidifiers grab moisture out of the air before it becomes an issue elsewhere. Vapor barriers, even as simple as a plastic sheet, can also block moisture from migrating.
Since hot air is less dense than cold air, it wants to travel up, so restoration teams must work to keep it close to the floor, where it is most effective. There are simple solutions to this issue, such as trapping the air under the carpet or trapping it with a plastic tent.
Finally, heat must be applied carefully, as buildings usually contain some materials that do not tolerate high temperatures. Directing the heat away from those materials and toward materials that can withstand higher temperatures is key, and restoration experts have plenty of tools in this regard.
Using heat when drying is an emerging option for restoration professionals, who are equipped to deal with the challenges that come with handling heat. That’s exciting for restoration companies, as heat accelerates drying times and protects materials that would otherwise be difficult to salvage.