Priorities for drying down structures after fire or flood

There are a number of measures that are specified by H+R after massive water ingress into a structure subsequent to flooding or water ingress during and after the fire. These improve drying and reduce the time required before refurbishment and reoccupancy can occur.

The general principles are laid out below in order of priority. It is essential that the higher priority measures be undertaken before those lower down the list. Failure to do this will make the works undertaken at best ineffective and may even make them counter productive. H+R can provide detailed investigations and specifications for these measures to ensure cost-effective drying and early refurbishment in each case.

  1. Drain water clear of the structure and prevent further water penetration by the use of temporary roof and ground drainage systems, if required.
  2. Remove all damp materials and debris from the structure, including all damp furnishings, fittings, carpets, rubbish, damp infill and collapsed building materials.
  3. Demolish or otherwise remove all parts of the structure not to be retained on refurbishment. In particular, remove any damp plaster, masonry masses or floor infills.
  4. Provide through ventilation to all parts of the structure, including all structural cavities such as sub-floor voids, chimney stacks and wall cavities. Fix all doors, cupboards, hatches and windows in a partially open position.
  5. Identify all moisture reservoirs in the structure.
  6. Remove all impermeable finishes from moisture reservoirs, wherever possible. Strip all water and salt damaged plaster and finishes to expose structures behind.
  7. Detail refurbishment of building to include moisture sinks such as through ventilated dry lining systems, permeable or microporous finishes and structural heating systems so as to allow continued drying during and after refurbishment.
  8. Consider the installation of accelerated drying machinery, if required. The use of the high capacity desiccant dehumidifiers, tenting and fans is recommended, as specified by an independent specialist. Consider the use of heating and mechanical ventilation systems. Note that accelerated drying requires a lot of management time.

H+R have provided specialist advice after fire and flood for over 20 years to property owners, insurance companies and loss adjusters, including The Royal Household at Windsor Castle.