A Closer Look at Heat on Water Damage Restoration Jobs

Heat is an essential element for drying water damage on restoration and remediation jobs. Yet, while this principle may sound simple at first, tackling a water restoration job is not so easy. It takes finding the right balance to work quickly, safely and efficiently. To do this, your drying plan should feature a combination of equipment that works together to address the various stages of the drying process — from heating to evaporation to dehumidifying.

Understanding the science not only helps you be better prepared, but it can give you insights into how to select a strategic drying plan for your next job. That’s why we’ve outlined some of the basics when it comes to using heat on restoration sites.

What is Heat?

Let’s start with the basics and take a trip down memory lane to your high school science class. Heat is the transfer of kinetic energy from one object to another. This happens when two objects with different temperatures are brought together, causing energy from the hotter object to flow to the colder object in an attempt to find an equilibrium.

How is Heat Transferred?

There are three primary mechanisms for heat transfer: conduction, infrared radiation and convection.

  • Conduction is a direct transfer of heat through molecular collision between objects in direct contact with each other. When molecules heat up, they move faster and faster, causing temperatures to rise as the friction increases. For example, if you pour hot coffee into a room temperature mug, the heat from the liquid will warm the ceramic mug.
  • Radiation refers to the process of heat waves that are emitted from a hot object and may be absorbed, reflected or transmitted through an object with a lower temperature. A common example of this would be warming food in a microwave. The infrared radiation, or IR, causes the water molecules in the food to vibrate and heat up to produce heat that cooks the food.
  • Convection occurs when heat is transferred through liquid or gas. As the liquid or gas heats up, it moves away from the heat source and the hot air rises. A common example of this type of heat transfer is an oven.

How is Heat Used on Restoration Jobs?

Simply stated, heat helps dry out damp, wet and waterlogged materials. On a water restoration job, it’s often used to dry surface moisture early on in the process to reduce the amount of moisture that’s absorbed into the materials. Many restoration professionals also use heat to dry both dense construction materials, such as concrete and plaster, as well as wooden structures.

What are the Risks of Using Heat?

While heat is extremely effective at drying water damaged materials, it’s important for technicians to be properly trained in IICRC certified drying techniques. Without the proper balance of airflow and evaporation, there is a risk of secondary water damage due to condensation, imbalanced atmospheric layers on the job site and incorrectly calibrated or measured British Thermal Units (BTUs). Heat is typically used in conjunction with increased airflow, air purification and dehumidification processes on job sites. It’s important to carefully monitor the humidity levels — especially if there may be increased condensation on cooler surfaces — as well as the vapor pressure on the job.

In conclusion, heat is a powerful and effective tool for efficient water damage restoration—but it takes finesse and proper technique to be a success. IICRC training classes provide students with a combination of hands-on and classroom education to understand the fundamental sciences and how to address complex on-the-job conditions. At Atex, we offer IICRC certified Water Damage Restoration, Applied Structural Drying and Combo classes in Houston and Austin, Texas. Learn more and see our full schedule here.