Commercial buildings have water damages just like homes. There are many differences between buildings and homes that have water damage.
The big difference between homes and businesses is the type of carpet that gets wet. Residential water damages usually have carpet over padding. Not only is the carpet water damaged, but the padding is soaked in many cases or at least wet. The usual process is to remove the carpet from the floor and remove the padding. Then remove the tack strip that holds the carpet down. Many homeowners forget to remove the tack strip and when they add a carpet fan to dry the carpet, the tack strip can actually rip a hole in the carpet as the carpet is flapping up and down.
Commercial buildings usually have wet carpet that is glued to the floor which means there is no padding. Although that is good in one way, it creates another issue. The other issue is getting the bottom of the carpet that is glued to the floor to dry.
Most carpet cleaners and cleaning janitorial companies use an air mover that blows on the carpet to dry the carpet. The problem is that the air mover also known as a carpet fan only dries the surface of the carpet. The problem becomes bigger because unknown to the property manager, carpet cleaner, and janitorial service the bottom of the carpet is wet. The moisture underneath the carpet (remember that the carpet is glued to the floor and no one can feel underneath the carpet) will be a feeding ground for mold and bacteria. Building management professionals will know it's a problem a few days later as they smell a foul odor. That odor is the growth of bacteria and mold growing.
Unless you have a moisture meter to determine if the carpet is wet underneath, you have to assume that the carpet is dry by feeling the surface of the carpet. As we have just learned, that becomes a liability and opportunity for tenants and employees to complain and possibly bring legal action.
Drying underneath the carpet and preventing mold damage and bacteria growth is actually very easy. Remember that mold normally (but not always) takes 36 to 72 hours to start to grow. There are molds that grow faster, but this an average time period for most molds. This information tells us that we have some time to work fast to prevent an issue. Please also remember that this process can be used by untrained and uncertified employees for wet carpet areas less than a 3 feet x 3 feet. Any wet carpet areas more than this will need a IICRC certified professional.
First take the same air mover that you used to dry the wet area and actually keep the air mover on for another 24 hours after the carpet feels dry. You will need to purchase a moisture meter that will test the bottom of the carpet After 24 hours the carpet should read dry, but if not let it run another 24 hours. The reason you can dry underneath the carpet without taking the carpet up, is because through osmosis, drying the surface of the carpet will " suck " the moisture from the bottom of the carpet to the top. Removing the moisture will reduce the possibility of mold and bacteria growth.
There are more differences between drying a water damage in a home and in a commercial building such as fire walls, computer systems, complicated furniture.
Hospitals and pharmaceutical companies and other sensitive manufacturing companies have compounded issues. Because of concerns of dust and mold these issues may interfere with patients' health and manufacturing processes.
The bottom line is to be careful when hiring a water damage restoration clean up company. It's best for commercial property management to start searching now and creating emergency plans to make sure they have all needs covered. Planning your water damage recovery when the pipes burst is not the best way.
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