When Carl Howard woke to an employee’s phone call last July, it was earlier than his usual morning start. It was just after 3:00 a.m. and a staff member was calling to tell him his business was on fire. He arrived on the site to see his Mason, Michigan-based business of 23 years, ServiceMaster Absolute Home and Restoration Services, engulfed in flames.
Even with three area firefighting crews on the job, the fire quickly consumed Howard’s entire building. “It was the worst fire our little town ever had,” says Howard. His losses that day totaled over $1.5 million in a fire that reached temperatures of over two thousand degrees Fahrenheit. “It twisted our steel girders like they were pretzels,” he remembers.
When the rubble had cooled enough to return, it looked like everything was a total loss. The only item they found above ground that might be salvageable was a case that was found in Howard’s former office. It was his Rapid RH® test kit.
“I’m a flooring inspector,” says Howard, who also owns and operates Central Michigan Inspection Services, and 12 years ago he attended a seminar where he learned about relative humidity testing. “It’s a true reading because you’re not reading at the surface,” points out Howard. “You’re reading in the slab.”
Excess moisture in a concrete subfloor is a very common cause of flooring failure and accurate testing is crucial to preventing problems with any installed floor. “That’s why most carpet tiles fail; there’s too much moisture in the slab,” says Howard, and that extra moisture can cause problems with both the flooring material and the adhesives used to install it.
It was this problem that led to a new method of moisture testing for concrete back in the 1990s, when it became apparent that traditional surface-based test methods were still giving flawed results that led to moisture-related problems. Since then, the Rapid RH® has provided accurate RH readings for flooring installers and inspectors alike, and has built its reputation on extensive research done on concrete moisture measurement and moisture movement.
Howard appreciates that the Rapid RH® provides fast, accurate automatic readings with the Touch-n-Sense™ Easy Reader™ technology. “That automatic reading is so easy,” he says. The Rapid RH®’s unique design also eliminates time spent on sensor equilibration at the job site, and the most recent addition to the Rapid RH® product line, the Rapid RH® DataMaster, makes data collection and reporting even simpler.
After the fire, Howard learned that the Rapid RH® also exceeded his expectations for rugged construction. After lifting the case out of the rubble, Howard recalls, “When the case opened, it was like it were brand new. Nothing was melted inside the case.” Of course, he points out with a laugh, there’s no knowing if the calibration was affected by the heat, but it looked ready to use.
Since then, Howard has upgraded to the Rapid RH® 4.0 EX. “I’m anticipating using it more and more,” he adds. “I think there’s great value in the meter once you learn to use it.”
The Mason, Michigan ServiceMaster location celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony in April of this year, and Howard expects the new location to be completed before winter comes.
We at Wagner Meters wish him every success.