ECS Archives: The Late Night Bath Debacle

Water losses of any size can happen at any time, and sometimes they can cover such a large area that multiple properties and insurance companies are involved. ECS is always ready and equipped to handle any size and type of disaster, proudly serving as the direct line of communication between all concerned parties, and ready to do all that is necessary to stabilize the environment until the true chain of command and financial liability is established. There can be no better illustration of our methods and capabilities in dealing with large water loss claims than the use of an example, of which we have gathered many since our company was formed over ten years ago. One such example still fresh in our minds is a loss which involved four different insurance companies, one property owner, three tenants, and two commercial business owners. The complexity of this claim and the strategies we implemented immediately to restore the property make it one of the trophy pieces of our history in successful fire and water clean up.

We received a call one beautiful and sunny Saturday morning from a local builder and property owner about a situation at one of his buildings. This two-story complex housed several luxury apartments on its second floor, while the entire first floor was a complex of office suites, file rooms, meeting rooms and equipment storage for a medical hospice and at-home dialysis service. As the building’s owner explained, one of the second floor tenants had a young son who woke up in the middle of the night and decided he wanted to take a bath. While his mother slept soundly, the child ran his bath, bathed, dried himself and left the bathroom without ever shutting off the water. When his mom woke up the next morning, there was water everywhere. The water had saturated her vinyl floors throughout the apartment, flowed into the adjacent apartment and finally travelled down through the subfloor, affecting the hospice’s drop ceiling tiles, walls, carpet and some of the contents as well. The carpet in almost every office of the hospice was soaked, and large filing cabinets and wall shelving units would have to be moved to inspect and extract the water damage hidden behind them. As a result, this loss would involve the property owner’s insurance policy, as well as that of the hospice and the two upstairs tenants.

We arrived on the scene within an hour to inspect the affected areas and to begin devising a plan for immediate action. The property owner was still unsure exactly how the claim would end up being handled by each of the concerned carriers, but he was authorized by his insurance company to sign off on our emergency services and any work that we deemed necessary with the understanding that payment and the proper chain of subrogation would be sorted out later. The property owner stressed to us that among his main concerns was the damage to his subfloor and the multiple layers of plywood and drywall between the two floors. He knew exactly how solid and soundproof his property was built, and he was unsure if there was anything we could do to be certain that these materials were thoroughly dried before mold would begin to form. Once we had signed authorization to start working, we immediately put our plan into action.

The first thing we did was to clean up any collapsed ceiling material from the hospice floors and begin extracting the carpet of excess water, moving furniture and contents as needed. Two large flood extractors and several hours later, the entire downstairs area was completely extracted and a few initial dehumidifiers and air movers were set up to begin the drying process. Next, we went around room by room removing every single wet ceiling tile and inspecting the visible layer of the ceiling/subfloor to determine the extent of saturation. This step allowed us to draw out a moisture map that indicated the most significant areas of damage to the subfloor and exactly where we needed drying to take place between the two floors. Using our map and the spots we marked on the bottom layer of the drywall, we used a foot-long drill bit to make holes in several key areas of the subfloor, to be sure that we had penetrated each affected layer of subfloor material. Then we used our patented Injecti-Dry System to fill these holes with dry pressurized air. The end result was a system of tubes running up the wall and into the ceiling that forced dry air in and moisture out. Finally, we set up the remaining dehumidifiers and air movers throughout each office, disinfected the carpets and took our initial humidity and temperature readings before heading upstairs, and all of this was done while the hospice was open for business!

Upstairs, we followed the same process of inspection and evaluation to remove the vinyl floors where necessary and to begin dehumidification in both apartments. The tenants were relieved to see us there so soon with a plan and an obvious amount of progress being made, and all the while we were there to answer their questions and to offer advice on the claim-filing process. The initial demolition and emergency services took two and a half days to complete, and after that we monitored each area on a daily basis until we were certain that all affected areas had been thoroughly dried and disinfected.
We continued to act as an informational liaison between each of the clients and their insurance companies until the billing process was completed, and the property owner was amazed to see that we could actually dry each level of the subfloor without having to tear them out. He was impressed by our thoroughness and cleanliness, as well as the validity provided by our moisture readings of the air and the affected surfaces in each room. The hospice management and staff were extremely grateful for our hard work and diligence, and the fact that they were allowed to stay in business with minimal interruption to their normal routines made them even more satisfied customers. We are proud to let this example serve as a true illustration of our willingness to help those in need in even the most extensive and confusing restoration scenarios, and we encourage you to take a closer look at Enviro- Clean Services, before you actually need us.