Getting Ed-Ucated: Heat Drying
October 24, 2019
The water damage mitigation industry continues to innovate drying technologies that claim to work better than other options. Each method may work best in certain circumstances, so it is important to identify what drying option is best for each unique situation.
CodeBlue doesn’t sell equipment, but we do test it at our independent testing laboratories in Eau Claire, WI and Springfield, OH. When we analyze new equipment, technology or concept, we ask three questions:
1. What will save the most materials?
2. What will dry the fastest?
3. What option is the most cost effective?
CodeBlue’s role is to protect the policyholder by ensuring the best drying strategy is implemented promptly. We hold the contractor accountable by monitoring the drying progress every day. When a form of heat drying is recommended, we keep the following in mind:
1. Heat drying works best in Class 4 specialty drying situations like cold crawlspaces, attics or garages, hardwood flooring, plaster, and ceramic tile installed over a wood subfloor.
2. For E-TESS, heat units must be used in a way that directs heated air flow across or into the wet materials by “tenting,” to hold the heat next to the material. It should also allow the heated air to exhaust out of the tent so it can be dehumidified or exhausted outside. This is called “direct containment.”
3. In most cases you want the ambient (surrounding) air to be no higher than 99 degrees F and the wet surface temperatures should not exceed 120 degrees F. It is ok to have air temperatures under containment higher than 99 degrees F.
4. Electrical heat drying units generally use two 120 volt circuits or one 240 volt circuit, so electrical capacity of the structure is an important consideration before beginning the process. Power distribution boxes may need to be used.
5. For the best results when drying hardwood flooring, use a heat unit (such as E-TESS) tented over the hardwood flooring and the Injectidry mat drying system.
6. Heat drying can be used with dehumidifiers if the exhaust air is circulated back into the affected room or exhausted out a window. Either way will work, but we consider security issues when making that decision.
7. When using directed heat airflow, it’s generally not necessary to use air movers on the affected wall, just a centrifugal air mover in the heat unit to push air through the heat exchanger or to push the exhaust air out a window.
8. If a hydronic trailer is used instead of the heat exchanger units, it needs to be at a large loss or in affected areas with no electricity. The hydronic system is best used when three or more exchangers are needed. If E-TESS units can be used, it is generally more cost effective.
To summarize, heat drying can be effective; but it should be evaluated on a per case basis. One use case would be during a Class 4 loss; but only after the restorer provides us with the proper information to justify the use of heat drying. CodeBlue is an advocate for the policyholder and we’ll only validate drying strategies that return the policyholder to pre-loss condition in the fastest, least disruptive manner possible.