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Capture refrigerant dehumidifiers are amongst the latest launches.

Restoration period

Alan Guthrie talks to a specialist hirer and supplier of flood damage restoration equipment, which believes that the market offers significant opportunities for other companies.

When faced with an emergency flooding situation, panic-stricken homeowners and business managers will more than likely turn to someone they know for advice, such as a local builder or plumber. They, in turn, will hire appropriate pumping and cleaning equipment, and later, when damaged structures have to be reinstated, the contractor will often be asked to undertake this work also, creating demand for dryers, dehumidifiers and the like.

This was certainly the experience of Chris Netherton. In 1969 he had established a successful tool hire business called Quick Hire in Farnham, Surrey. He was often asked for flood damage restoration equipment, and he eventually became a distributor for Dri-Eaz machines, before it established its own UK operation. He had seen the range while visiting an ARA show in the US. Demand was so strong for these products, and other related items, that he eventually sold Quick Hire and established Restoration Express in 1995 as a specialist hire and sales operation, supplying everything from heaters and dehumidifiers, to cleaners and moisture meters.

Desiccant dehumidifiers enable efficient drying at very low temperatures.

Chris Netherton has since retired, and his son, also called Chris, now runs the business.

“People looked to us to supply the equipment they needed to get work done quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. We have steadily expanded our range and also offer items for fire damage restoration, as well as training courses.

“What people must realise is that flooding means more than just rivers bursting their banks, or severe rainfall. Incidents are also caused by burst pipes, people leaving taps running, DIY mishaps and other accidents, which make up approximately 97% of flood incidents. As a rule of thumb, insurers reckon that, for every 1,000


households, 12 will experience an incident like this each year, called an escape of water (EOW). Overall, this is a big market. It is estimated that £180m is spent annually on just drying out properties, which rises to £1 billion when you add the subsequent repairs and restoration that are required.”

The Restoration Express hire fleet includes refrigerant dehumidifiers, air movers that speed up the drying process, and desiccant dehumidifiers, which work better in very cold conditions. “We source machinery from all over the world,” says Chris, “such as Arida dehumidifiers from Germany. We are also just launching ranges of equipment that are being manufactured specially for us, including Thermodry trailer mounted heating systems, and Capture refrigerant dehumidifiers. We also supply air scrubbers, carpet cleaners, tarpaulins, hoses and PPE.”

Restoration Express’ core hire customers include specialist flood damage contractors, but it can also crosshire to other companies throughout the UK. “Understandably, smaller independents can be reluctant to commit to stocking the more specialised or larger items of equipment, so if they have sudden demand to cope with a severe local flooding incident, they can contact us and we can supply them.

“We are soon to launch a new website,, that will include a calculation tool, enabling people to work out how much equipment they will need to dry out a room of a given size and construction type. In our experience, a small builder will often simply hire, say, just one dehumidifier, when the job might actually be completed more cost-effectively, as well as faster, by using more. This is a service that other hirers could benefit from.”

Indeed, to raise knowledge of appropriate procedures and equipment, Restoration Express has established its National Flood School, also based at Farnham. It teaches best practice to professionals from contracting companies and the insurance industry, as well as specialised diagnostic techniques such as thermal imaging. Educational facilities available include a ‘flood house’, which is believed to be the only one of its kind in Europe. The 1500ft2

structure incorporates 60 different methods of construction, such as brick, block, wooden beams, and hardwood and softwood flooring. Individual areas can be flooded in a controlled manner and allowed to dry, before showing students the appropriate remedial techniques and the most suitable equipment.

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