Property Restoration, What You Need to Know

August 11th 2009
Property Restoration, What You Need to Know

Interior water damage is the number one property loss category for insurance companies. Mitigating that loss is the responsibility of the insured person, and often involves calling a restoration professional.

Specialized instruments that can measure the moisture content of materials and track where the water has migrated to, and can uncover hidden pockets of water which can result in mould and bacterial growth leading to other damage and an unhealthy living environment. Once the moisture has been mapped out, a drying plan can be developed which returns restorable materials to their normal state (called "dry standard").

The goal of Restorative Drying is to remove the moisture from the materials using the least intrusive method resulting in fewer repairs once it's all dry. Drying professionals are continually experimenting and pushing the envelope on what is technically possible giving rise to numerous claims.

Top Down Drying (Drying in place)

This system of drying attempts to dry everything without removing anything. This method is effective if clean water escapes from a supply pipe, runs onto and starts soaking into a relatively clean surface or material, water extraction and drying process begins within 24 hours, and the affected materials can get wet and dry without changing their structural or finishing integrity. The bad news is only 10% of all water damage claims can partially fit into this category and can be processed in this fashion. When it works, it is a great and cost effective solution.


Bacteria will multiply every 20 minutes under ideal conditions. Depending on the existing conditions of food source, temperature and moisture mold will inevitably begin to grow within 3-4 days. The ideal conditions for mold and bacteria are also ideal conditions for human living.

If the source is contaminated, i.e. dishwasher backup, laundry overflow, drain backup, roof leak, sewer backup, decontamination can quickly become costly and materials must be replaced. Since cleaning and decontaminating can only occur and be proven effective on non-porous materials, and since carpet, underlay, K3 board and drywall are all porous, all attempts to disinfect are expensive and often more costly than replacement.

Another concern is material damage. Water causes many materials to swell. When they dry again, is strength maintained? Particle board (K3) used in many floors as underlayment and MDF used in many trim materials (base and casings), laminate floors all fall under the same category. Once water is introduced there is no saving it. These products will swell and won't return to their original state once drying has taken place, leaving it in a weakened state. Many furniture bases with veneer finishes made of particle board swell and fall apart later as well.

What You Can't See

If you simply extract the water you can see and dry what you can see, what about all the layers you can't see? Is there a hidden sub floor, swelling particle board under vinyl floor upon which carpet and pad were installed? Did someone build the wall over the carpet? What's happening under the cabinet or behind it? Did you find that hidden cavity by the curved staircase or other nook? Even when all the other variables point at drying in place, assumptions in this area can kill the success of the job.


A variety of equipment will accomplish the desired result of restoration. There is never one tool that fixes every problem. There are many variables that change how each job is approached. The professional drying technician can assess the situation accurately; make a sound judgment call on which equipment to use, which process to follow, and have a reasonable rationale based on the industry standard of care which is described in the IICRC S500 Water Damage Standard.

The myriad of building materials and methods require a high level of education and experience for a professional restorer to consistently make the right call. Many people say they can do it, few do it well.

Discovering the Source of Mystery Water Leaks

Sometimes a wet spot can appear in the oddest place, such as a random spot on your ceiling. This is usually an indication of more trouble to come, and having it remedied should be high priority. Finding the leak without destroying your drywall or rooting up your entire floor can be difficult if not equipped with the right tools. 

If you or someone you know is in need of home restoration services, contact Shell Busey's Home Services Referral Network at 604 542 2236