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New Methods to Fight 'Mechanics of Moisture'.

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS -- The Water Loss Institute's 4th Annual Conference & Expo, whose theme was "Moisture: The Mechanics of Moisture in the Building," was broken into two method sections and a final forum exploring the present and future of the water damage industry.

Water remediation was the topic discussed by air quality specialist Charles Boutall; David Bankston of FEMA's Flood Mitigation Program; Michael Eggman of Certified Restorations; Peter Laks of Michigan Technological University; and Joe Arrigo of Arrigo Restoration. All were in agreement that water from a clean source, when addressed quickly, should be a simple loss and easy to remediate.

On the other hand, water from a contaminated source or that had not been addressed after more than 72 hours, especially in a warm, dark, humid environment, presents not only a more difficult remediation, but health and environmental hazards to the occupants of the building and those working on it, the speakers said.

Determining what type of water, how long it had been standing and whether it has been contaminated are critical questions when inspecting a property. Drying and removing moisture from the air and the surrounding environment can present technical challenges to restoration contractors. With technology and instruments such as penetrating and non-destructive moisture sensors, thermo-hygrometers, chart recorders and data loggers, it has become easier for properly trained personnel to monitor and test for moisture, the speakers said.

Controlling relative humidity, while critical to successful projects, is not the only consideration for moisture and restoration professionals who need to know the differences among hygroscopic (readily takes up water), hydrophobic (does not readily take up water) and compound materials (made up of both) that may allow moisture to become trapped in duct work, conduits, raceways and other repositories.

Restoration contractors at the conference learned that there are several aspects that will set them apart from the non-professionals: 1) experience both in the industry and in the field, 2) technical training, 3) understanding the building envelope and product knowledge, 4) construction knowledge and training, 5) restoration and remediation training, 6) knowing building testing strategies and protocols, and 7) detailed, knowledge-based inspections.

Hidden damage compounding a loss may result from architectural design deficiencies, construction-related problems and product malfunctions, all of which the professional restoration contractor must be able to identify directly, attendees learned.

Another session on conflict of interest, fiduciary duty vs. advocacy situations, the need for disclosure and the importance of confidentiality to bring greater understanding, higher ethics and better resolution to restoration projects was led by Patrick Moffett of Environmental Management & Engineering; Edward H. Cross of Cross & Associates; Frank Headen of First Restoration Services; and Mike Pierce, an adjuster with Zurich American. Sessions also included presentations on remediation and restoration of manufactured wood products, wood floors, concrete and non-electric media.

The newly revised "IICRC Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Water Damage Restoration S500-99" was introduced and the changes were discussed at the conference. The new standard clarifies previously vague language, reduces redundancies and incorporates more black or contaminated water issues.

In the final session, Ron Reese, president of WLI, led lawyers, adjusters, a property manager and restoration contractors through a fictional scenario of a major water loss in a San Antonio building. As the session became more involved, hidden damages were revealed along with construction defects, client liability and conflict of interest questions. The session illustrated how quickly the responsibility of a loss can shift and how many people are actually involved in loss resolution.

Jheri Fleet is media relations coordinator for the National Institute of Disaster Restoration, based in Denver.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Fleet, Jheri
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:Dec 1, 1999
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