1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

September 18, 2008

:262 Clean and Dry

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:262 EcoTip: Before reconstruction after flooding can begin – it is critical that the indoor environment be clean and dry. If its not clean there can be organic material that results in odor problems or bacteria. If its not dry mold can develop and materials may degrade. You can’t tell if many types of construction materials are dry by touch – it is important to confirm they are dry using a moisture meter.


 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261,

This is the seventh in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

The following is from my book Extreme Weather Hits Home. I am discussing the reconstruction process in Key West Florida after hurricane Wilma in 2005:

Storm surge-damaged gypsum board and insulation can’t be saved, so in most of the buildings I looked at they had been removed shortly after the water damage occurred to allow air drying of the remaining wood framing or concrete block that is commonly used for construction on the island. In those buildings where it had not been removed, the gypsum board was falling apart, full of mold growth, and smelling horribly from the bacteria and dead sea life that hadn’t yet been removed and disinfected.

In the cases where the residents quickly removed and discarded the water-damaged gypsum wallboard, they simply left the wet wood framing in the homes exposed to allow natural air circulation for drying. What I found surprising was that even after three months of air drying the wood framing materials and furring strips had a wood moisture content greater than 30 percent. It became apparent that mechanical drying using dehumidifiers and air circulation would be necessary to get these buildings dry enough for reconstruction. Experience has shown that if the wood surface is exposed to air circulation it is rare for mold to grow even if the center of the wood still has elevated levels of moisture. Fortunately, leaving the walls open and not rushing reconstruction avoids the problem of mold growing.

One of the big problems I observed while in Key West were homes where the gypsum wallboard and insulation had been removed and replaced with new materials while the wood still had these elevated levels of moisture. These homes began to grow mold on the paper of the brand-new gypsum wallboard materials.

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