They Did What?!

Have you ever been hanging out at the local restoration distributor, catching up with the guys, when you hear something amazing…and not in a good way? You know, the conversation that somehow always includes the shocked, “They did what?!”

For some of us, it’s a pretty uncomfortable conversation. Because, secretly, we know we have done the exact same thing.

This article is dedicated to the thick-headed things that we do sometimes in this industry, with a look at how to do it the right way.

Are You Kidding Me?

“We got called out to do a moisture check in a duplex. The bathroom was the only room affected. When we got there, we found the mitigation company had cut all the walls – in the whole apartment – up 4 feet. And the bathroom was still wet!”

This “cut and gut” philosophy is unfortunately still prevalent with some contractors in the restoration world. A company that hasn’t had any training and doesn’t own any meters is most likely to commit this kind of botched restoration job.

To know if demolition is necessary on a water loss, consider the following: First, determine if the item is wet. If an item is totally unaffected, leave it alone. Second, see if the wet item is damaged or contaminated in some way. Clean, undamaged items in a water loss should be dried.

Finally, consider if the item is, or contains, a vapor barrier. An item that is wet, but covered in a vapor barrier, may have to be removed.

What the Heck?

“After the other crew got kicked off the job, Mrs. Jones called us. Turns out that she has a daughter with multiple chemical sensitivity. Yeah, we had to clean the entire area before we could start the drying process because the first company sprayed chemicals everywhere. Mrs. Jones said their excuse was ‘we do it on every job.’”

How many times have you walked through your warehouse or looked in a company vehicle and seen a half-full pump-up sprayer with a “mystery liquid” in it? Nobody knows what this stuff is, but it ends up getting used regularly as a part of water mitigation. Unwritten company policy says to spray carpet before extracting the flood water because that’s what we always do.

There are times when chemical application is very necessary in water mitigation. There are also times when chemical application can be unnecessary and flat-out dangerous. So what are the guidelines for application of professional products in water mitigation?

First, read and follow the product labeling. This includes wearing appropriate PPE and having the occupants leave the area during application. Always communicate with the occupants and obtain their consent before using any antimicrobials or deodorizers. Finally, have your MSDS available if the customer requests more information about the products you’re applying.


“So we walk in and there is an extra-large dehumidifier in every room, and so many air movers you can’t even walk. And half the stuff isn’t even running!”

This mistake is sad on a number of levels. First, there are simple industry formulas that tell how many air movers and dehumidifiers are necessary to use in a water loss. Second, the chances of the company getting paid for all that extra equipment is slim to none.

Insurance adjusters and many property managers are very familiar with the equipment formulas in the IICRC S500 Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration (Third Edition). Both air movers and dehumidifiers can be sized to a job based on the size of the affected area and the class of water loss.

The classes of water loss are:
  • Class 1: With a Class 1 water intrusion, evaporation will progress at a slow rate because there is minimal water present in the structure. Class 1 intrusions involve only a part of an area, or involve a larger area that has only been lightly affected. In a Class 1 loss, there is little or no wet carpet or cushion; typically, only low-porosity materials (such as plywood, concrete and structural lumber) are affected.
  • Class 2: With a Class 2 water intrusion, evaporation will progress at a faster rate because there is a large amount of water present in the structure. Class 2 water intrusions affect entire areas of carpet and cushion. Water may have wicked up the walls but is less than 24” high, and structural materials are wet. Porous and low-porosity materials are affected.
  • Class 3: With a Class 3 water intrusion, more water is present than with any other class; evaporation progresses at the fastest rate. Class 3 water intrusions involve damages to entire areas of carpet and underlay. Moisture has wicked up the walls more than 24”, water may have come from above, and/or wet insulation may be present. There are wet structural materials present, along with great amounts of wet porous items.
  • Class 4: A Class 4 water intrusion results in a specialty drying situation. Typically, wet materials present in a Class 4 situation have very low porosity. Water has saturated deeply into the materials and will require very dry air to return to pre-loss condition. Materials that are common to Class 4 intrusions include hardwood, plaster, brick, deeply saturated concrete, deeply saturated ground soil and stone.
Most often, the mistake in the equipment formula is choosing the wrong class. So learn these definitions by heart. Once you know the class and the size of the loss, use the equipment formulas on page 231 of the IICRC S500 (Third Edition).

Oh My!

If you’re like me, you’ve really scratched your head at what people do in this industry sometimes. But don’t laugh too loud at anybody else before you look in the mirror. I know one person who has made a ton of mistakes drying buildings; that would be me. Before I get too critical of others, I better take a close look at my own processes.

In what areas do I ignore industry standards? When do I open myself up to liability? Where do I cut my profits short by doing a poor job of documentation? If I was on the outside looking in, what looks bad in my own company?

Answer these questions and you won’t be the butt of any jokes at the local distributor. More importantly, you’ll stay in business.

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