- THE MAGAZINE
As someone who is active in the industry and yet still goes out on water damage jobs, I am constantly amazed at the quality of work in our industry. In the late 1990’s, I first heard about this crazy guy in Tennessee - Chuck Dewald - that wanted to dry carpet and pad, sheetrock and baseboards in place. Back then, I thought he was a lunatic and it took me about two years to get on board. I suppose I am a slow learner. However, many companies today still cannot, or better yet, will not, dry things in place on a fresh water loss.
The industry has really sophisticated drying equipment now compared to 1992 when I started and it is not being used to its fullest potential. The training we have and the scientific knowledge we have today is also light years ahead of where it used to be. Even with all this great information, training and equipment, I still had a manager at a large insurance company tell me the other day that they still see a standard dehumidifier on 75% of all their losses. This is alarming to me that after all these years most companies are still doing things the way they did 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. Which means they aren’t drying, they are replacing.
At least once a week I get calls from adjusters asking why a particular contractor would want to remove a solid wood baseboard from a home, why they can’t dry carpet and pad in place or whether the sheetrock actually needed to be cut out? These technicians have been to many industry drying schools, but still don’t follow their training.
There are several mindsets that are going to have to change within our industry before we stop seeing this. First will be when insurance companies stop paying for standard refrigerant dehumidifiers. This will make most companies use low-grain refrigerants. As of a few weeks ago I am seeing this start to happen in Texas where I live. A large insurance company that I do a lot of work for is now stating that they will not pay for standard refrigerants when the gpp in the affected area is below 60. This is a huge step in the right direction and one that I have been pushing for years.
The fact is, if you can’t dry carpet and pad, solid wood baseboards and sheetrock in place then you need to be in another business. If you can do it, then why don’t you? There are still plenty of times that you will need to remove items in the structure and yes the dumpster at my office is still full most of the time. However, it is full of things like mdf baseboard, particle board and laminate flooring. The point: knowing how to dry a structure and actually putting that into practice seem to be two separate things. The sooner they become one, the sooner the industry will be able to move forward.