Airflow is one of the single most important factors in drying a structure. An increase of airflow increases the rate at which water evaporates, which in turn, expedites the process of achieving drying goals when attempting to remediate a water-affected structure.
Because of this, the placement and utilization of air moving equipment is crucial. Air movers will increase the airflow in a room, allowing the affected area to dry more quickly. Having said that, the placement, location and type of air mover used to facilitate drying will make a difference in terms of effectiveness depending on the type of water event, the materials affected and the amount of water involved.
Air movement can be looked at as a transportation mechanism. Thus, air movers can be expected to transport whatever air is in the environment from one place to another. While this can be, and often is, of benefit in many water event remediation situations, it also has the potential to be detrimental.
For example, if it is humidity in the air that is causing secondary damages, a restorer will not want an air mover moving extremely humid air to other areas of the affected structure. If, however, humidity is helpful to the drying process, then an air mover may be a wise choice in that particular area of the affected home or building.
As always, much of the decision of whether or not to use a piece of equipment is dependent upon the situation and the severity of the water event. Thus, there are many other factors that will go into whether or not to use an air mover, and when.
Similarly, air movers will need to be adjusted based on the scenario presented at the water-impacted scene. As time goes by, the amount of air movers, the types of air movers and the location of the air mover will need to be adjusted. This will work to harness resources and increase the efficiency of the drying process.
Generally speaking, drying techniques that utilize air movers will be relative to the type of material affected, the location of the water and how much water is present. As the rehabilitation process ensues, restorers will document changes made to the location and types of air movers provided to further justify their needs for altering these factors when needed, according to the situation.
Typically, common practice requires that there be one air mover per room, where even closets count as “rooms”. Common practice also requires that there are air movers for every 50-70 square feet of wet floor, that there is an air mover for every 100-150 square foot of upper wall and ceiling affected, and that, depending on the length of the wall, an additional air mover be placed to target specified insets and offsets.
Although the aforementioned practices are common protocol, there may be times when placement of air movers can, and should, be altered.
At the beginning of the restoration project, air movers should be placed at the entry of the affected space, at the start of a wall section. This is to ensure that no sections of the wall are missed.
As remediators draw air from one room to the next, he or she will measure relative humidity between each room to ensure that they match. Matching readings indicate that circulation has been properly achieved throughout the drying chamber. Otherwise, those initial air movers placed will need to be moved to a location that better achieves circulation goals.
Likewise, initial air movers should have an inlet at a 90-degree angle that draws from the next room or an adjacent space to transport air movement throughout the structure. This is also a critical step at the beginning of the air moving process. These air movers should be low-profile or centrifugal, because the intakes in them are perpendicular to the targeted outlet. Positioning of this type of air mover is important in these instances, and will be determined by the remediator.
The rest of the air movers will be placed to target the perimeter of the room and to take the flow from the initial mover and continue that flow of air throughout the space. The distance between the movers may be 10-16 feet apart, but there will be a number of factors that will influence the amount of distance each mover is apart, including the type of air mover that is being used.
Finally, remediators will feel for airflow around the wall of the affected room with their hand to ensure that proper air movement is taking place. If no air is felt along the perimeter of the wall, another air mover likely will need to be placed.
Getting Air to Flow to the Center
Air flow to the center of the room is also important.
Typically, larger rooms, such as rooms larger than 15 x 15 feet, may not have appropriate air flow to the center of the room. To test for this, remediators may use their hand to feel for cool air flow in the central area. Axial style air movers will be used to increase air flow to the center of the room in the event that the restorer finds that not enough air is reaching that area.
In oddly shaped rooms or special situations, adjustments may need to be made to ensure air flow is hitting bends and odd shapes, built-ins, off-sets or areas with many contents. As the job progresses, adjustments will continue.
A hydrometer is a tool often used by remediators that can be useful to determine whether or not additional air movers should be added in a designated space. For instance, a hydrometer can be used to gauge whether or not the humidity at the surface and center of the affected room matches the air above it.
If both relative humidity readings match, no additional air movers are needed. In fact, adding additional air movers at this point won’t be of any benefit, and may prove to be a waste of resources.
On the other hand, if the air closest to the surface of the affected area and the air above it have readings that are unequal, it very well can justify the use of additional air movers for better circulation of airflow.
Air Movers Are Essential in the Water Remediation Care
All in all, air movers are an integral instrument for remediation care. As air movers shift air, the rate of evaporation increases allowing for water-impacted areas to dry quickly and more efficiently. Thus, proper use of an air mover, and especially proper placement, is of the essence for achieving the dry environment needed for restoration.