Managing water damage on your own can be overwhelming. The factors that go into determining how to clean up standing water and waterlogged areas are complex. A professional water restoration team is the best choice for evaluating your situation. For DIY damage control in the midst of a storm or leak, however, these factors can determine where you should start off with fans or dehumidifiers.
The weather is still wet
If the weather is still wet, a dehumidifier is the best way to go. Fans rely on air circulation to do most of their job. They blow away moisture-laden air, replacing it with dry air that absorbs moister and then blows it away. The more air circulates the better. Fans are great when you can open the windows to a dry (and preferably warm) day and let the sun and the wind aid your fans.
Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air but do little to circulate it. They work best in enclosed systems. A room, sealed against the rain, will benefit far more from a dehumidifier than a fan. Just remember to empty the dehumidifier’s pan as often as needed so it can keep recirculating dried air.
The tools at hand
From a practical standpoint, the best tool for the job is a tool you have. If you’re just trying to hold down the fort until professional help arrives, employ the tools at your disposal. Most people have portable fans in their homes. While fans work best when there’s dry air to pull into a moisture laden area, they will still help a little simply by circulating the air in the room. Before you go out to buy a dehumidifier or industrial strength fan, set up the fans you already have at home.
Waterlogged furniture and carpet
Most waterlogged carpet will need replacing. In most cases, furniture can be restored, though at times it can be cheaper to replace it. If you don’t have the option to remove your waterlogged furniture and carpet right away, you should use dehumidifiers over fans. Fans work well for surface water, like dampness over drywall or a tile floor. Fans move a lot of air volume at a time and are very effective at drying surface level dampness.
Dehumidifiers draw out the moisture trapped under sodden carpets and beneath floorboards. Even though a dehumidifier may not save all your furnishings, it can still be an important tool in minimizing the damage. Having a dehumidifier over a vent can help dry beneath floors, and other hard to reach areas that a fan couldn’t cover.
Water damage spreads and worsens if left untreated. Employing fans and dehumidifiers at home helps prevents the spread of water damage. These tools have their advantages and disadvantages, and professional water restoration teams often use them in tandem to achieve the best effects. In a DIY water damage “first aid” situation, assess your circumstances. In a closed environment with deep penetration of water, opt for the dehumidifier. For shallow water or dry conditions, opt for high circulation fans.