Water Damage Guidance for Insurance Professionals

Guidance for Insurance Professionals

At Polygon, our expert water damage restoration services are designed to support policyholders by returning their home or business to its original condition as quickly as possible.

Water damage restoration

Water is such a part of our everyday lives that we often give little thought to the damaging impact it can have on homes and businesses, whether as the result of a relatively minor leak or a catastrophic flood.

However serious the situation, the critical factors of speed, knowledge and technical skill are paramount in managing the restoration process to mitigate the effects of water damage on both the building and the people who live or work there.

The water damage restoration process

Every case of water damage is different, with some much more serious than others, but they are consistent in that they all cause distress to those affected. Managing the situation and restoring the property to its former condition in the fastest, most effective way requires the support of a specialist who can account for a wide variety of factors to determine the required approach. There are a series of important stages in the water damage restoration process:

Readings

Dehumidifiers vary considerably in their ideal working conditions and drying capacity, which means the equipment being used must match the ambient conditions. To provide these readings, hygrometric equipment is used to gauge air temperature and humidity, and these measurements can in turn be used to calculate other factors, such as potential for condensation, vapour pressure or the amount of moisture physically held in the air. Variations in readings throughout a building will provide valuable information to identify the potential for moisture movement and help avoid secondary damage, such as condensation. Tests also provide readings of affected materials, including moisture resistance, capacitance, surface equilibrium relative humidity (ERH) and in-depth ERH. Moisture in solid materials can also be accurately assessed using calcium carbide testing.

Moisture

The rate of evaporation is affected by three key factors: air moisture content, rate of air flow and temperature. Addressing each of these areas will maximise evaporation potential, which means: creating a moisture differential between the material and the ambient room condition using an appropriate dehumidification process; promoting air movement to ensure evaporation is not negatively influenced by the boundary layer; and increasing the temperature of both the ambient air (to reduce moisture content) and the material (to encourage the movement of moisture molecules).

Porosity and permeability

The pore structure and density of a material will affect its ability to absorb, hold and release water and the rate at which water can flow through it. These properties all need to be considered, and they may be further complicated by the presence of additional materials, or coatings, either on the surface, underneath or mixed into the primary material in question. Where coatings with low permeability are present, they should be removed when the material is still wet as the plaster may also need to be removed if they are left to dry.

Dehumidifiers

There are two types of dehumidifier used to remove moisture: refrigerant and desiccant. Refrigerant dehumidifiers use gas to cool air and remove moisture content through condensation. The ideal working temperature for a refrigerant type dehumidifier is approximately 12-28°C. Desiccant dehumidifiers employ a fan to draw in moist air and pass it through an exposed three-quarter section of a silica-impregnated rotor that absorbs moisture. They work best in the temperature range of 5°C to 25°C but some can operate as low as -20°C, making them more suited to applications during colder periods of the year.

Air Movement

Used in conjunction with measures to control moisture levels and temperature, air movers or fans play an important role in aiding evaporation of moisture from damp materials, directing damp air towards dehumidifiers, and venting air out of a property. Even when open doors and windows are drawing dry air from outside the property – known as an ‘Open Drying System’ – fans are still important to promote efficient moisture removal.

Heat Drying

Introducing hot air into the property accelerates evaporation of the moisture at the material surface into the ambient air, leaving it to be exhausted out of the property using fans and/or ducting. There are various methods available, including heat mats, Drymatic heat drying (DBK), speed/trailer drying and direct/indirect heaters.

Remote Monitoring

Sensors can be used to provide constant assessment of drying progress, monitoring temperature and relative humidity among many other things. This data is recorded to provide an audit trail and can be accessed in real-time via the internet to allow for closer monitoring on a remote basis. This ensures equipment use is optimised, secondary damage risks are minimised, site visits are reduced, and drying times are reduced.

Thermography

Thermal imaging is an effective tool, primarily used to locate water leaks from central heating and hot water pipes. Confirmation of leaks via thermal imaging should, wherever possible, be backed up with moisture measurement profiling.

High-pressure Vacuum

Where moisture is trapped in cavity areas of a property, high-pressure vacuum (HPV) pumps can be used to encourage drying and limit the amount of strip-out and reinstatement works to be carried out. Applications include floating floors and cavity walls.

Polygon is a trusted partner of many of the UK’s biggest insurers, having dealt with thousands of flooded homes. If you need water damage restoration services, we are by your side 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

For more information, contact us 01480 442327.