Using heat to assist with drying has long been known to be a valuable tool. Unfortunately, many of the heat delivery systems have either been expensive, required too much labor for setup and tear down, have been potentially dangerous due to high temperatures that could cause collateral damage (if not controlled) and the equipment not being used correctly by contractors as a whole.
That is why CodeBlue has been cautious to endorse heat drying as a viable option when drying structures and contents. Too many times we have seen heat drying units being used to just heat up the air because it was cold in the home and the heated air flow not directed at the wet materials. Too many contractors have used heat drying units as just an expensive space heater. Everyone agrees that providing more energy in the form of heat to the wet material will cause the moisture to evaporate from the material quicker, we simply want to emphasize the importance of utilizing heat to the best of its capabilities.
CodeBlue has tested several heat drying systems in our flood houses, like Phoenix Firebird, the Eliminator, Water Out, DBK Drymatic and E-TES Smart Dry System. I co-authored, with Dr. Dan Bernazzani, an article in R&R magazine May of 2013 - http://www.randrmagonline.com/articles/85649-advancing-the-science-of-structural-drying
about our test of the E-TES Smart Dry System. Heat does work and all the heat drying systems we tested work. However, some work better than others in certain situations and many contractors don’t use the heat drying system as prescribed by the manufacturer. The result being that the heat provided by the drying systems aren’t as effective as could be.
See some tips below of CodeBlue’s policy on heat drying and what we recommend:
1. Use heat only used on class 4 situations, unless the contractor can prove that there will be shorter drying times and overall lower costs than conventional refrigerant or desiccant dehumidifier drying.
2. Heat drying works best if tented so that the directed heat flow is focused on the wet materials with constant circulation of hot, dry air. Focus your drying on the smallest area possible!
3. Always keep ambient air temperatures below 100 degrees F.
4. Always keep wet surface material temperatures below 120 degrees F.
5. Set insulated containment (Squared-edge foam board rated R-10 to R-13 works well) to keep the heat from unaffected areas.
6. Contractor should be able to provide daily wet surface temperature readings, as well as Evaporation Potential readings to show the heat drying is working. Provide photos of the IR thermometer with a description of the material and location being measured.
7. Heat drying should speed up the drying process by raising the vapor pressure of the wet material, thus speeding up evaporation, so drying times should be shorter than normal. The exception may be in cases where bound water is trapped in wood framing. In those cases be sure to tent over the wet area and focus the most heat and dry air on the wettest spot for 24 hours to see if you can bring the water to the surface to be evaporated. Re-evaluate drying progress every 24 hours. Take photos of your MC & IR temp readings.
8. If using heat to help dry hardwood floors, try heating the wood subfloor from below instead of the top to decrease the risk of cracking planks. Injectidry floor panels work best on hardwood floors.
9. Many times a simple UL rated small space heater is all that is needed to raise the ambient temperatures enough so that the dehumidifier exhaust actually becomes our heater (need 85-99 degrees F ambient air temperatures in the affected areas).
10. CodeBlue does NOT pay for heat drying units when they are just used as space heaters. Look at other less expensive options for increasing heat in the entire structure if there are heat issues in the building.