Commercial water damage challenges, common sources, and detection equipment!
Every water loss has differences. Even small similar water damage jobs can have different outcomes and different drying methods. Very small differences can make an entire project completely different. Knowing this, tackling a commercial loss can have many challenges that just aren’t expected in the average home. In addition to scale commercial spaces often have unique building methods and materials that alter what gets done to complete the dry-out process.
One piece of equipment mentioned on another page here, is the thermal imaging camera. Due to its cost, it used to be used almost exclusively for a commercial setting or on very large residential losses. It works by showing the user temperature variances by displaying different degrees of temperature on surfaces as a different color. This is handy for quickly scanning a job site for moisture pockets because evaporation causes cooling, and this can be seen on the images displayed by the thermal imaging camera. Verification is needed because cooler spots do not always represent elevated moisture content in a material. It is important to use the camera in conjunction with a more traditional meter, but the camera’s use can speed the whole process up by honing in on potential problem areas.
Due to the sheer size of some commercial losses, it is sometimes required to use unique methods of dehumidification. Desiccant dehumidifiers are mentioned on the equipment page related to dehumidifiers here. On a large loss, in a commercial setting, it can be feasible to use desiccant dehumidifiers in the form of large truck trailers. The desiccant is house in large semi trailers and the dry air is pumped in with large hose like ducts. The dehumidifiers, being outside, leave plenty of space for work to get done and air movers to be placed. The downside to these large trailer dehumidifiers is that on structures that can require their use, usually have parking challenges as well. In addition to the challenge of parking the trailer, the challenge a security concern because the dry air has to be piped into the building through a window or door. This is a concern due to the fact that this opening could cause security issues that would otherwise not have existed.
Many residential homes have multiple floors, but most do not have fire suppressant sprinkler systems installed. A common source for commercial water damages in a faulty fire suppressant system and many times it’s a single sprinkler that causes all the damage. Although the systems are usually checked a cycled regularly, when a sprinkler gives way and pours water into a structure, it can have a foul odor from stagnating inside the suppressant system for a prolonged period. This stagnation would indicate that some materials that may have otherwise been salvaged may not be able to be fully restored.
Insulation is an issue to be aware of on any water loss, but on commercial losses insulation is used as a noise barrier at least as much as it is used for maintaining temperature. Because insulation is used so often in a commercial setting, it can be expected in almost any wall and most ceilings. Because most types of insulation hold an incredible amount of water, the fact that it is everywhere on commercial losses can change what method is used for drying the structure.
Metal stud framing is another common element in a commercial structure. At first you might think that this is a great thing, it’s not organic, so it won’t mold directly. This reasoning, although true enough, doesn’t show the whole picture. A metal stud wall has a setup similar to traditional wood stud wall, but the bottom plate is cupped. This cup can hold and channel a great deal of water. Add this to the fact that the wall is most likely insulated with the insulation sitting in the cup, holding the water as against the drywall, or other type of wall board, as it is channeled through the structure.
Another very real challenge for commercial water damage projects is that oftentimes business is done in the building and lost revenue is a concern even with business interruption insurance. This may seem obvious but getting the structure restored is one aspect, but doing it with the least disruption of business as possible can be more important than saving building materials through drying. For example; a business that loses $10,000.00 per day due to the loss of use of one of its room will not want a ceiling and walls dried in order to save $5,000.00 of repair work if the removal and repair can be done faster than the drying. In this case it is more important to restore the functionality of the room than to save building materials and labor.
As you can see, commercial losses offer unique issues and challenges to be overcome. Add to these that the structure’s owner is not usually the owner of the business or businesses that operate within, and you can see this getting very complicated very quickly. A successful dry out will prevent a water loss from becoming a mold abatement project. A water damage mitigation company needs experience with dealing with these issues as well as experience with drying building materials when it comes to the commercial setting of water damage restoration. Access to equipment, man power, and experienced supervisors are a key component to every successful commercial restoration.
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