ICS Magazine

Dry as Fast as You Can!

September 20, 2011
Heat drying just makes sense to us, as we dry our clothes in the dryer or hand them outside on a warm summer day. Along those lines, let's look at how you might use some heat "gadgets" to improve and speed your drying jobs.

I use a hair dryer every morning. I don’t like to leave the house with wet hair and my wife tells me it looks better if I dry and comb it. So I hold the dryer, turn on the blower and turn the heat to high.

A time or two I have actually tried drying without the heat, but I just don’t have like to spend three times longer drying my hair. Heat drying just makes sense to us, as we dry our clothes in the dryer or hang them outside on a warm summer day. Along those lines, let’s look at how you might use some heat “gadgets” to improve and speed your drying jobs.

Let’s get this out of the way first:  While I have been in the cleaning and restoration industry for over 37 years, I don’t claim to be the consummate expert on drying. Yes, I have been through several drying education course and even in my very early years of cleaning I was doing flood work. But even with this, I’m definitely not the person to give you a great understanding into the depths of differential vapor pressure, or even show you how to use an evaporation calculator.

I just make sure that I partner and work closely with those people who are.

While I fully expect that fans and dehumidifiers will continue to be the primary method of drying at least in the near future, I am now seeing thousands of professionals adding directed-heat drying to their arsenal.

Following the idea that, “the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree,” my son owns a restoration and cleaning business. He recently received a call from a local gym manager with a flooded hardwood basketball court. Another restoration company had come in and set up fans and dehumidifiers in large numbers, but the floor was just not drying. The hardwood was suspended on top of concrete with firm rubber discs. Water had collected on the concrete and had kept the hardwood wet and severely cupping for three weeks. 

My son invited me to help and observe his technique. About half the basketball court was affected. We installed vacuum panels over the flooded areas, got them hooked up to the vacuum pumps and started them up. We then spread plastic sheeting over the whole area to create an enclosed tent effect. Using his hydronic directed-heat drying system, we added 50,000 BTUs of heat and approximately 1,500 CFM of airflow into the plastic tent. This would raise the tent about 4 feet off the floor, as it was sealed around the edges.

I have seen the same application executed very effectively on smaller hardwood drying situations hundreds of times. The only change would be to use less BTUs (probably an electric unit) for directing the heat. This would have been enough to expedite the drying of the gym floor, but we applied another system that really sped the drying and worker perfectly.

With two other hydronic 50,000 BTU directed heat boxes, we were able to direct heat and air flow under the floor – between the concrete and the hardwood. We accomplished this by removing the edging base and drilling 1-inch holes spaced along the edge. We then added two Octidry wall/floor drying systems attached to the TEX boxes. This created an amazingly efficient drying situation.

After struggling to dry this floor for over three week, to then have us come in and return it to the pre-flood dry measurements in 36 hours, it is hard to describe how pleased the gym manager was. I was surprised to see almost all of the cupping of the wood go away, even after it had been wet for that long. I must say I was impressed.

Whether you’re restoring a flooded gym floor or a residential basement, I expect we share the same excitement and feeling of satisfaction when, upon completion, the customer says to you, “Wow, I thought we would be torn up for weeks. Only three days and I’m all put back together. Thank you so much!” 

Customer satisfaction through short drying times is the enduring strength behind directed-heat drying. But keep in mind that it is not necessarily a stand-alone system; the best approach is to have a complete arsenal of the best drying systems and gadgets to handle anything Mother Nature (or a broken water heater) can throw at you.