Restoration professionals explain how ThermaPure’s heat method benefits their companies.
This article was originally published in the January issue of C&R magazine and has been reprinted with permission from the Restoration Industry Association.
Everyone has heard the theatrical maxim: The show must go on. But what if the actors, stagehands and musicians are ready, but the production office beneath the stage flooded 36 hours before the scheduled show?
That’s what happened at a stage show in Orange County, California, in April 2013. Operators managed to dry the production office completely, kill the mycobacterial residue and eliminate odor prior to the show, thanks, in large part, to the ThermaPure Heat method.
The method has been growing in popularity in the restoration industry. Firms that previously used only the wire brush and scrape or replace methods now have another choice: ThermaPure Heat. It essentially pasteurizes a space by heating the area to a lethal temperature, up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. When the temperature reaches that point, the structure is dried and bugs and bacteria are killed.
“It’s great,” says Fred Ananian, owner of Coast Risk Management based in California. “This gives me a tool in the bag for restoration work that I never had before.” The heat method reduces the time spent in restorative processes by half and often reduces the cost by well more than that. Ananian faced a job in an engineering firm’s office space that was flooded on a Tuesday. He started the job Wednesday and finished clean-up on Saturday. “After that project, I got a call from the insurance adjuster who said, ‘Fred, you didn’t charge me enough because you saved me about $120,000 in reconstruction costs.’”
Bill Weber is one of the pioneers of mold remediation; he has been at it since 1998. “I was skeptical about this, but the result was good,” says the regional manager for the Anderson Group in Northern California and a leader at DKI, the largest restoration contracting organization in North America. Weber tells the story of a long-term roof leak into a one-bedroom apartment on the sixth floor of an apartment complex that had created a large water problem. “Typically I follow all the IICRC standards: sanding, wire brushing and so on. In this case, Jared [Perez of ThermaPure] challenged me to do the gross removal and then heat it up. The process took one day for the heating and two days for the removal. We had a post- remediation verification, and it came up clean.”
Rich Wasvary has used ThermaPure Heat more than 1,500 times for his clients in the New York and New Jersey area. That region has been hit with hurricanes and storms that have changed the nature of the aquifers and landscape. These changes have caused thousands of homes and offices to flood.
“The difference with ThermaPure is that you are cleaning the actual structure, even in places that you cannot see,” he says.
He faced particular challenges after Superstorm Sandy hit the New Jersey coast in 2012. “There was a time demand on those jobs. The owners wanted to get the properties ready for rental in the next season.” If the company was forced to do major deconstruction and reconstruction, the properties would not be ready, and the owners would lose rental income. ThermaPure helped dry the structures and reduce the amount of construction time needed.
John Nelson, project manager for Alliance Environmental Group, Inc., says about 60 percent of his firm’s restoration work in California and Arizona relates to flooded crawl spaces. “We are talking about areas that have been completely saturated with water. Areas that have inches or feet of water in the crawl space. Our restoration clients extract the free water, and they have no efficient way to dry the crawl space. We are able to use elevated temperature for three or four days to dry the crawl space and dry the framing. We are able to increase the temp to kill any mycobacterial. Any sewage loss? We would kill that.”
Nelson says that the process has additional tangential benefits: It kills odor and small bugs. Traditionally, contractors use ozone or a fogging method to mask the odor. “It didn’t reduce it – just got it to an acceptable level,” Nelson says. “But with this method, we are able to heat the area, and then use air movers to move air flow through the area and actually remove the cause of the odor.”
Ananian has been an early adapter of ThermaPure Heat, and it has created a reputation and a business advantage for him in the high-income area of Orange County where he operates, he says.
“We had a high-end customer who had moisture trapped under the marble he had just laid. The marble was sitting on top of about a three-quarter-inch mud pack and the contractor had sealed the slab. No matter what they tried, they had floor efflorescence,” says Ananian. “We used ThermaPure to heat the area and dry out the moisture. Problem solved.” Another home had water damage and $200,000 worth of murals painted on the walls. Ananian’s team was able to dry the area without removing and destroying any of the murals.
John Martin, president and owner of Certified Disaster Cleaning and Mitigation based in Salinas, California, says homeowners and insurance companies are fans of the heat method because of what they don’t have to do.
“A typical case for us is a leak behind a dishwasher,” Martin says. Repairing the damage can be costly and difficult without using heat. “We would have to pull it out of there and, depending on the extent of the damage, rip out dry wall and cabinets and granite countertops. And you know that can run $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000,” he adds. Using ThermaPure Heat allows contractors to leave drywall intact, for the most part. “The homeowners are happy and the insurance companies are even happier,” he says.
ThermaPure Heat is being used in restoration projects such as:
◾ After-water damage in a residential structure, particularly in structures in which the crawl space has been flooded.
◾ Crime scene clean-up. One firm is using ThermaPure Heat to clean up the sites of homicides or former methamphetamine laboratories
◾ Disaster clean-up. One ThermaPure Heat licensee in New York relied on the method extensively after Superstorm Sandy.
◾ Removal of odors. Anything from a kitchen fire odor to a heavy stench of cigarette smoke can be taken care of.
◾ Floor efflorescence in a basement or under a finished floor.
◾ Leaks in confined spaces.
◾ Structural pasteurization and rodent removal/decontamination.
By Tim Gallagher and David Hedman