ICS Magazine

Water-Damage Restoration: A Case Study

December 7, 2005


As with most restorative drying projects, the goal or purpose is to dry the structure and contents affected by the water intrusion as quickly as possible with the intent of reducing the amount of damage, and returning the structure to a stable usable condition. The need to meet this goal as quickly as possible in commercial buildings is ever more important since lost revenue due to business interruption can easily soar beyond the physical damage repair estimates of the building itself.

Drying hurricane-damaged buildings in the gulf region this year was no exception. One case involved a multi-level medical building in the New Orleans area that housed a surgical center along with doctor's offices.

This building had suffered the usual and expected wind damage to windows and roofing, along with some wind-driven rain. The high winds forced rainwater through the damaged window openings and around the window seals in areas where the windows had held fast. This, along with the damaged roof, affected almost every room on every floor in some fashion. Weeks later, the windows and roofing had been repaired and the HVAC system restored.

One week of operating the HVAC system proved ineffective in mitigating the water loss, and some musty odors were quickly becoming a source of complaints from the building occupants. Our inspection revealed the interior conditions were in the 75F-at-48-percent-RH range throughout much of the building, and the thermal imaging camera wasn't showing much to get excited about either. However, using a moisture meter on the relative scale, our readings along the exterior walls read 25 to 70, while most of the interior walls were 0 to 20. These readings were observed floor to ceiling.

Our client was faced with really two choices, both of which involved closing the building to business. The real question was whether to close down now for a short period of time, quickly resolve the wet structure issue with the hope of reopening soon, or continue business operations knowing that, eventually, closure will occur, and for a much greater length of time. Wisely, our client decided to take the inconvenience upfront and dry the building now.

We quickly mobilized numerous trailer-mounted Water Out drying systems to the building and established a complete convectant structural drying system within eight hours of initial setup. Within 24 to 36 hours of initial setup, notable progress in structural moisture content had been made, allowing some areas of the building to reopen and resume normal business operations. Needless to say, this was welcome news to our client.

In order to rapidly dry a structure, daily monitoring of the convectant dying progress is important to maintain continuous efficient placement of trailers and air movers, keeping them in operation in the most critical areas throughout the structure. Within a week's time, using up to a dozen trailers, 100 air movers and 2 qualified technicians, we restored the structure to a safe, stable, usable condition that fully allowed normal business operations to resume. Although some structural repairs were still needed, the estimated savings by drying exceeded $500,000, and loss of use was reduced from potentially months to just more than one week.

You can see the obvious benefits to the local economy as one more building, which not only provides many incomes for local workers but offers critical services that further support the infrastructure itself, can reopen. One significant reason for our success is the ease of setting up and operating the equipment itself. Technicians like to use equipment that makes their workflow easier and more productive, and knowing that there will be a pleased client at the end of the project provides all the motivation needed to keep morale high.