Being stuck in an environment where humidity levels are high can be uncomfortable, to say the least. Unfortunately, when it comes to water loss events that require significant cleanup, an increase in humidity is often yet another unwelcome side effect of the already challenging situation at hand.
Because of this fact, it is important that water remediation technicians provide the equipment and tools needed to remediate a structure that has high levels of moisture in the air. Failing to do so often leads to dire consequences, some of which include bacterial growth, mold growth and even human illness.
Why Dehumidification Matters
Dehumidification is the process by which water is removed from the air using natural or mechanical means.
In the case of a significant water event, a remediation specialist is likely to employ dehumidification tools to aid in removing unwanted moisture from the immediate environment for the safety and betterment of the structure and everyone involved.
When a water event takes place, significant damage often ensues. But this damage isn’t limited to mere surface materials. The air within a structure can become so bogged down with moisture that it begins to facilitate an environment conducive for bacterial growth, mold growth, allergens and more.
Moreover, excess moisture in the air will always impede the drying process of a structure or building unless it is resolved. As such, the threat of time, money and efforts being wasted is of true concern. For these reasons, it is important that a professional restorer responds to the issue of excess humidity with urgency for the safety and comfort level of all parties involved.
When considering methods for dehumidification, there are several considerations that must first be taken into account.
- Indoor and outdoor moisture content readings (GPP)
- Air temperature
- Other factors such as dew point, customer preferences, weather and more
Additionally, a water remediation specialist will take into account other readings from applicable locations that may affect moisture levels in the air including surface temperatures, air conditioning vents, equipment output and more.
All of this will be closely and frequently monitored by a remediation team, who may adjust the means by which they are removing air moisture, based on the need.
Three Options for Dehumidification
After the proper considerations have been taken into account, a remediation expert can then determine the means by which dehumidification can take place.
There are three general methods commonly employed for removing excess moisture from the air within a structure:
A closed drying system is a popular method among remediation entities and involves the use of mechanical dehumidifying tools. This option is ideal for when outdoor air moisture readings are higher than indoor air moisture levels.
To save time and money, your professional water remediator may block off areas that aren’t affected by excessive moisture in an attempt to hone in on the affected area.
Common types of dehumidifying equipment tools include:
1. Desiccant- These dehumidifiers are particularly useful for deeply penetrated low- porosity materials, such as in the case of a Class 4 water loss event. Such a situation typically involves surfaces such as hardwood flooring, stone, brick and other difficult to dry materials. When used properly, desiccant dehumidifiers can create the driest air out of the four dehumidifier types, but the right conditions must first be met.
2. Conventional Refrigerant- These can be utilized for small or simplistic situations where not much water damage has taken place.
3. LGR Refrigerant- Popularly used for residential and commercial water events, these work best in high humidity situations.
If the right conditions are met, open drying can also be an effective means of ridding the immediate environment of excess humidity. In an open drying attempt, your restorer may open windows or use other natural techniques to ventilate the immediate area.
When using this approach, there are a few factors that your technician will need to consider. The first consideration, as previously stated, is the outdoor moisture level when compared to the indoor moisture level.
If the moisture level outdoors is higher than that inside, the open dry method is not likely to be utilized. Yet, if the outdoor air is drier than the indoor air, then open drying may be a viable option.
Still, if the temperature outdoors is below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, then open drying, even if humidity levels outdoors are low, might not be a feasible option. While there are instances where even cold air can be utilized to remove air moisture, the process would have to be done in conjunction with specialized equipment to control the temperature of the indoor air. This method would only be used at the discretion of your technician.
Another factor to be considered before employing an open drying method is building security. If it isn’t safe, for any reason, to have open access points to the building or structure in question, then it might be better to steer clear of open dry options. Other methods might be to use bathroom and kitchen ventilation fans, air movers or cracking a window, only if it is deemed safe to do so.
The last way that a water remediation technician might seek to dehumidify an affected structure is to use both open and closed drying methods. This approach will take skill and frequent monitoring by the remediation professional, as the right balance of humility, vapor pressure and evaporation must be achieved to prove effective.
Nevertheless, the combination of both closed dry and open dry methods merges the benefits of both so that if the right parameters are met, the remediator has control over the internal dehumidifying process while using the warm and dry outdoor air to further increase effectiveness.
When using the combined drying method, a water remediation team member may go about the method a few different ways to achieve a desired outcome.
The first way is to use the open dry method to quickly dissipate built up humidity levels in a particular room, area or structure. This may act as a temporary fix to an urgent situation until the root cause of the initial build-up has been identified and resolved.
The second way to utilize combination drying is to allow for slow and ongoing ventilation using any of the closed or open air methods previously discussed, depending on the need.
Lastly, a water remediation specialist may implement both open and closed drying solutions to allow for strong and ongoing ventilation as may be appropriate for highly humidified areas.
Removing Air Moisture for Good
All in all, when removing moisture from a designated structure, it is important that a remediation company uses the right tools and employs the right methods, depending on the conditions and needs of the client. Failure to effectively dry and dehumidify an area can lead to further bacterial growth and a longer drying process, wasting both time and resources.