Warming up and drying out after the freeze
by Tom Costello, Technical Director
February 21, 2021
When someone mentions flood or water damage many people think of the total losses caused by a hurricane or riverbank overflow. Damage from a frozen water pipes can be just as dangerous to a structure and its inhabitants. After any flood event, water damage can cause rotting of wood, mold growth, rusting of steel, de-laminating of materials such as plywood, and many others.
As large parts of the country begin to warm up and defrost after this past week’s freeze, the extent of structural damage will quickly become apparent. So how does it work? The longer someone waits, the more mold that grows and the more damage that requires remediation. You gotta act fast!
There are a number of different techniques and types of equipment used to dry out a structure following exposure to water. GreenTech Heat’s Titan 800 is a powerful, portable, propane heater that convects the air and increases the temperature throughout the structure, removing moisture from the structure as the air exits the building. In scientific terms, convectant drying is described as: the balanced manipulation and control of air exchanges, heat, and vapor pressure differential to create optimum conditions for evaporation, reduction and control of airborne moisture from the indoor environment.
Integral disinfection is an added benefit of drying a structure with a Titan 800. Whereas submerged contents of a structure may be a total loss, treating the walls, frame, and subflooring of a building with heat will kill bacteria, mold, and other dangerous organic contaminants. Dr. Mike says, “Every living organism has a thermal death point,” and this is so very true of eliminating dangerous and destructive microorganisms that grow after a pipe bursts.
Structural drying with GreenTech Heat equipment may kill most organisms living in the interior spaces we inhabit. In the laboratory, Stachybotrys chartarum, also known as toxic mold, is killed in 30 minutes of 140°F (Domsch, 1993, pg. 745). E. coli rarely survive beyond 10 minutes of 150°F (Padhye and Doyle, 1992). Hantavirus is rendered inactive with exposures of 30 minutes of 140°F (Manual of Hemorrhagic Fever and Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. WHO. p. 196).
Dehumidify and Flush the Structure
Prior to reconstruction, it’s important to dry out and disinfect the structure, especially the structural elements such as wall studs and floor joists that will hide behind new drywall and flooring. The GreenTech Heat Titan 800 heats and moves a significant volume of air while treating the building. Treatment creates an open system where more than 5,000 cfm of heated air flows into and through the structure, and is vented out as part of the treatment. As the structure actively dries, air contaminated by mold spores, bacteria, and viruses is continuously expelled from the treatment zone.
Traditional desiccant dehumidification is accomplished by processing the air in a structure two to three times per hour through a machine. Determining how much airflow a given structure requires is paramount. Calculate the interior volume for structural drying: square footage multiplied by ceiling height. A 2,000 square foot building with 8-foot ceilings has a volume of 16,000 cubic feet. That same building with 10-foot ceilings has a volume of 20,000 cubic feet.
Each Titan 800 produces 5,000 cfm. Proper utilization of ducting and fans will distribute air throughout the structure, reduce stratification, and disrupt stagnant areas. A single Titan 800 can produce enough heated airflow to dry and sanitize a 30,000 cubic-foot structure.
It makes good business sense for a number of industries to own their own structural drying equipment.
- Apartment maintenance teams.
- Hotel/motel management and service departments.
- Structural drying companies.
- Disaster response units.
- Senior living facility maintenance teams.
- University housing/dorm maintenance departments.
- Carpet cleaning companies.
Regardless of a flood source— a hurricane, a broken water line, or a slowly-leaking toilet or shower— GreenTech Heat has the heat solution to mitigate the damage from flooding. As always, please feel free to contact us at 855-GTH-BUGS (855-484-2847) ext 2 with any specific questions you may have.