For this R&R Roundtable, we asked 14 restoration and remediation professionals the same two questions regarding their respective areas of expertise (catastrophe restoration, cleaning and disinfection, contents restoration, fire and smoke damage restoration, forensic restoration, mold remediation, and water damage restoration):

  1. What do you consider the most important tools, and why?
  2. What tool advancements stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

Click on the photos below for their responses.

Catastrophe (CAT) Restoration


Jim Thompson

President and CEO, Jim Thompson & Co.


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for CAT restoration, and why?

A: The obvious answers are, of course, moisture meters, water extraction equipment, dehumidifiers, etc. However, I feel the most important tools are the management safety tools, starting with job site hazard analysis (JHA). 

Very few restoration companies actually use the JHA as a tool when beginning a job site. First of all, it is required by law in the U.S. More importantly, it helps your employees stay safe and go home uninjured, with all of their parts attached.  

If the insured client observes the restoration company taking the time to actually create a JHA, there is a better chance of the restoration company creating a great initial impression and thus signing up the job. The opposite is just as true. If an insured sees a bunch of restoration employees being dangerous and not paying attention to safety, the restoration company might not last the day on the job.  

As a tool, the JHA can help close the job, follow the law, create an excellent first impression and most important of all, keep the crewmembers safe.  

  • 1910.132(d):Hazard assessment and equipment selection.
  • 1910.132(d)(1)The employer shall assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present, or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). If such hazards are present, or likely to be present, the employer shall:
    1. 1910.132(d)(1)(i)Select, and have each affected employee use, the types of PPE that will protect the affected employee from the hazards identified in the hazard assessment;
    2. 1910.132(d)(1)(ii): Communicate selection decisions to each affected employee; and,
    3. 1910.132(d)(1)(iii): Select PPE that properly fits each affected employee.

Note: Non-mandatory appendix B contains an example of procedures that would comply with the requirement for a hazard assessment.

  • 1910.132(d)(2): The employer shall verify that the required workplace hazard assessment has been performed through a written certification that identifies the workplace evaluated; the person certifying that the evaluation has been performed; the date(s) of the hazard assessment; and, which identifies the document as a certification of hazard assessment.

Q: What advancements to CAT restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A: As a follow-up to question one, I would like to see all restoration companies start the jobs by conducting a JHA, and update it frequently as the dangers of the job change. Nothing is more important than getting the job done and paid, except that no one gets hurt or killed on the job. 

I know of two major, nationwide disaster restoration companies that were put out of business over safety/OSHA issues. No job is worth losing a life or your company!


About Jim

Jim Thompson, PCC, PCG, PCM, FAWM, consults and trains restoration firms in the U.S., Canada and Australia concerning large, commercial losses and marketing. Thompson is a member of the ANSI/IICRC (Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) Standards Consensus Body and serve as vice chair of the IICRC Safety and Health Handbook Committee. He is also a member of the ANSI/ IICRC S-550 Commercial Water Damage Consensus Body, and the S900 Illicit Drugs, Cannabis and Nicotine Residue Consensus Body. In addition, Thompson is a USF OSHA Training Institute outreach instructor as well as an OSHA Construction, OSHA General Industry and OSHA Disaster Site Worker instructor. He holds professional USF OSHA Certificates in General Industry PCG, Construction, PCC and Maritime PCM. Thompson is retired from over 25 years owning and operating a nationwide disaster restoration company that served in 43 states and Puerto Rico.

Howard Wolf

Principal, HW3 Group


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for CAT restoration, and why?

A: Many tools are important on a CAT response, but the most important tool cannot be purchased from your local supplier. It is the ability to think critically and adapt. One of the biggest challenges in a CAT response is a lack of consistent and reliable resources. Scarcity of resources forces a restorer to make decisions that would normally be non-issues. If a restorer cannot think their processes through and adapt to resources and conditions to keep the project moving smoothly, then the project may suffer unnecessary delays and cost. Many restorers who lack this ability may think that their actions will be paid anyway through T&M invoicing. The problem with that thinking is that evaluations of means and methods are being scrutinized closer than ever. For this reason, the restorer’s critical thinking ability and ability to communicate these challenges and adaptations are more important than ever.  

Communication and data collection have also become paramount in the restorer’s ability to get paid faster on their invoices in a CAT response. Therefore, data logging and communication devices have become increasingly important. These devices also assist the restorer by enhancing the use of their first tool: Critical thinking. A restorer who can make sound decisions using the data they can collect from these devices with what they know will be more profitable and more successful in a CAT response. 

Q: What advancements to CAT restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A: From more compact dehumidifiers, air movers and air filtration devices (AFDs) to equipment-mounted tech that talks to your phone through apps, recent years have brought about many advancements in tools. While the compact equipment is great for loading the trucks and handling on the projects, it is the tech that really has been the standout winner in recent advancements. We live in an age of instant everything. So, it is no surprise that the tech is the big winner here. 

The data collected by GPS or RFID tracked devices, and communicated through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, has allowed restorers to make more timely and prudent decisions. It has also allowed the restorer to communicate better with their customer and third-party representatives like carrier reps and consultants. This is especially important on CAT projects where human resources are scarce, traffic is bad and hours are long. It is also true that the first to communicate their story and get their invoice packages submitted are the first to be paid. Tech advancements are the easiest way to make that happen.


About Howard

Howard Wolf, a Certified Master Restorer, has been in the cleaning, restoration and construction industries since 1984. He is the principal and founding member of HW3 Group, and is past chairman of the ANSI Standards Committee for the Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). He formerly sat on the board of directors of IICRC (2001-2009) and was chairman of the S500 Water Damage Standard (1999-2013) and chairman of standards (2012-2018). Wolf is also the chair of the new standard writing body S550 Commercial Drying Standard. He has extensive large project management and building diagnostics experience with particular expertise in public facilities and government agency projects. Wolf has participated in over 37 catastrophic events, beginning with Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and has worked in 50 states and 14 countries.

Cleaning and Disinfection


Graham Dick

Principal and President, Genesis Restoration


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for cleaning and disinfection, and why?

A: People are absolutely the most important tools. All the best cleaning and disinfection devices, equipment and solutions result in great theater, but create a false sense of security unless the people are properly trained to follow best practices in work procedures and proper use of their resources. 

I can’t emphasize enough that you must remove soil and contaminants from the surface first. Only then will the disinfectant work and only if the full wet contact time is met. This is always a multiple-step process. There is no shortcut to this if you want consistent, effective and verifiable results. 

The most important thing is understanding how to use a tool, when to use it and what its weaknesses are. A great tool used incorrectly accomplishes little and likely causes damage. 

Far and away the best ROI, if you are investing in improving the output and efficacy of your cleaning and disinfecting service, is educating and training your crews. There is nothing you can purchase that will beat that. 

Q: What advancements to cleaning and disinfection tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A: There has been increased attention to electrostatic disinfectant delivery systems, microfiber cloths, and various UVC and Ionic systems. I know I won’t be popular for this, but it is my position that most of these technologies look great; however many of the claims are embellished and real-world applications and results are more theater then beneficial.   

For example, a recent study of electrostatic sprayers (funded by U.S. EPA) showed that the highly touted “wrap” effect was almost non-existent.1 Sprayers with a small droplet size have great difficulty achieving the required wet contact time. A significant portion of the cleaning industry use disinfectants requiring a 10-minute “dwell time,” yet an electrostatic delivery method can’t achieve that without multiple passes from several angles (which virtually no one does).

On the positive side, an electrostatic sprayer can provide a very consistent, even coverage and can coat irregular surfaces without over-wetting. When paired with a fast-acting disinfectant (one-minute wet contact time), a conscientious applicator can get better results over a larger surface area with less water than any other type of application device. Education and training make all the difference.

1. Evaluation of electrostatic sprayers and foggers for the application of disinfectants in the era of SARS-CoV-2


About Graham

Graham Dick is a Certified Restorer, Certified Mold Professional and AHERA Certified Building Inspector. He is an infection control and prevention (IPAC) expert, consultant and trainer with more than 30 years of experience in occupational health and safety, restoration contracting, infection control, hazardous materials abatement and forensic restoration. Dick serves as chairperson of the ANSI/IICRC (Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification) S410 infection control standard consensus body. He participated in the joint industry task force on Restoration Industry Association (RIA) and IICRC COVID-19 response, and co-authored the RIA/IICRC/AIHA (American Industrial Hygiene Association) report for professional cleaning and restoration contractors. Dick’s volunteering experience also includes the RIA, British Columbia Construction Safety Alliance and Indoor Air Quality Association.

James (Lee) Senter

President, Dry-It; CEO, Fresh and Clean


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for cleaning and disinfection, and why?

A: The item I consider the most important for cleaning and disinfection is a good cleaner/disinfectant solution that comes as a ready-to-use product along with a pump-up foam applicator. Using such a product with relatively new microfiber cloths and thick, disposable paper towels is the way I prefer to clean up a site with pathogenic material or with the potential for the same. 

Most one-part cleaner/disinfectant products have a surfactant package in their formulation. This surfactant package is a synthetic soap package that will foam up when applied with a pump-up foam applicator. This foam application gives the user the ability to apply a disinfectant to vertical surfaces and still achieve the required contact time or dwell time required by the product label. 

Microfiber cloths are made from a variety of fibers, polyester being one of the more common for cleaning cloths. Research shows that microfiber can capture and hold up to seven times more soil than a cotton cloth. Paper towels as a finishing wipe will absorb and carry away remaining soil residues. 

My absolute favorite product to use for cleaning/disinfecting items like tables, desks and contents are cleaner/disinfectant saturated wipes that require a very short contact or dwell time (one minute). This is the fastest and most reliable way of cleaning and disinfecting contents. 

Q: What advancements to cleaning and disinfection tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A: There are many new technology systems being sold for disinfection. The problem is that many of these systems are made for healthcare facilities and are generally not safe to use without having properly trained personnel, using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and using products that are allowed to be applied through such equipment. 

It is essential that a conformity assessment be performed on the PPE being used when using specialized disinfection equipment. The PPE prescribed by the product’s SDS and user manual shall be strictly followed.

The following equipment is becoming more and more common in the disinfection protocols in cleaning companies, and facility and property management companies’ decontamination procedures:

  • Electrostatic sprayers are devices that apply a charge to the droplets that pass through their application nozzle. The charge on the droplets allows them to line up next to each other and can coat a three-dimensional surface from one side. Care must be taken not to over apply or allow spray to get inside items.
  • ULV foggers produce aerosols that are in the 10-to-100-micron size range. Most ULV foggers have multiple settings and users can easily change particle size when doing large air spaces versus rooms with multiple surfaces.
  • Ionized hydrogen peroxide vaporizers. These systems allow charged hydrogen peroxide aerosols to get deep into areas that are not easily cleaned. Doors and ventilation systems must be sealed closed while these units are in use.

About Lee

James (Lee) Senter is a technical specialist for Dry-It Corp, which is a disaster restoration company in Richmond Hill, Ontario. He is also the owner of Fresh and Clean, a specialized cleaning company in Toronto. Senter is the chairperson of the Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Safety and Health Field Guides, president of the Canadian Flooring Cleaning & Restoration Association (CFCRA) and the past IICRC vice chair of standards.

Contents Restoration


Jessika James

Sr. Training and Development Specialist,


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for contents restoration, and why?

A: A well-stocked inspection kit and technical knowledge. Without the appropriate inspection tools, pre-testing chemicals and technical knowledge to determine contamination type and soiling characteristics, it is impossible to truly determine salvageability, restoration or preservation processes.

Q: What advancements to contents restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A: I am very impressed with the new generation of encapsulating/crystalizing foam cleaning chemicals. Hides, furs, fine textiles and even delicate items like paper art, collectable stamps, historic felt hats and doll’s hair can be easily cleaned and decontaminated using encapsulating dry foam processes. A much better alternative to some of the other dry-cleaning processes such as absorbent powder or solvents, which can often cause damage. 


About Jessika

Jessika James has been in the textile cleaning and contents restoration industry for over 30 years. She was the driving force behind the development and creation of the Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Contents Processing Technician (CPT) course and currently serves as the chair of the IICRC Textile Cleaning Division. James is an approved IICRC instructor and teaches most of the IICRC cleaning and restoration courses through

James Tole

Owner, Harold William Fine Services


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for contents restoration, and why?

A: I would first off like to point out that until recently, most contents technicians received little to no training for their craft. When you consider the broad and varying material types we encounter, it is difficult to expect great outcomes if training is not available. Little was available to teach the skill of cleaning. How do you develop a cleaning process for a content that has never been designed to be cleaned? Where do you begin? Beginning with the development of inventory software and now the IICRC CPT course, this segment of restoration is getting its due in my opinion. Practices and procedures that are standardized will certainly assist with efficiency and productivity models for contents processing. 

As for what I see as the most important tools in contents restoration, it would be simply that; standardized productivity and efficient processes for all aspects of contents. Proper evaluation of total loss, wrapping and pad-protecting techniques would certainly be a great place to begin. Cleaning of any surface begins with a clear understanding of the material's cleanable surface and any limitations, and learning to adjust the process of cleaning is the route to success in cleaning of contents. Finally, understanding industry standard productivity and efficiency rates allows a business owner to gauge the success of their department in “real time.”  I would rate these as the core skills required to be successful in contents restoration.

Q: What advancements to contents restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A: High-quality inventory software is now widely available and even on a per-job basis, which makes this a financially attainable tool even for a smaller service provider as hand-written inventories with unattached photos is a way of the past. Ultrasonic and electronic cleaning systems, and hydraulic textile cleaning systems, are certainly efficiency tools that help in contents restoration. They are still by no means required equipment. Currently, a restoration company skilled in proper evaluation and stabilization of contents, good inventory and evacuation techniques, as well as cleaning and deodorization skills will be the most successful in building a good business model.


About James

James Tole has been in the cleaning and restoration industry for 34 years, and has trained hundreds of companies in the U.S. and Canada. He has extensive field and management experience in the handling of contents after insured losses, and specializes in pack-out procedures, individual job management, contents estimating and inventory software. Tole is also a chemical engineering graduate with a great understanding of the chemistries and processes for use in hands-on cleaning. He is an Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) instructor as well as an affiliated instructor with Hydramaster Corporation, Clean Aid and Fireline training centers. Tole brings to his courses a unique compilation of practical exposure and practices based on “the science of cleaning” targeted toward increasing technician, manager and supervisory skills and efficiency.

Forensic Restoration


Jeff Jones

Master Trainer, Artemis Biorisk Training Academy’s Microbial Warrior Experience


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for forensic restoration, and why? What advancements to forensic restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A: The two most important tools in Forensic Restoration® are the mind and the heart. Too many times I have seen an obsession over the latest gizmo or electronic device, and while there have been many advancements in tools, disinfectants and delivery systems in both forensic cleaning and professional disinfecting, in the end, it will always come down to the Forensic Operator® who is boots on the ground in that potentially hostile microbial micro environment and who’s responsibility it is to render it safe for human habitation. 

General George S. Patton said, “The body follows the mind.” It is the mind that must be trained and disciplined through highly professional, systematic and tactical training to follow protocol and procedures and use critical thinking skills to move from one phase to the next on any forensic restoration project. The heart is the dwelling place for the “passion” to serve others. Care, compassion and concern for others are the fruits of a loving servant’s heart. This servant’s heart is fueled with the knowledge that there is honor in service. 

It is written that Jesus said, “The Son of man came to serve, not to be served.” So, while there have been great technological advances in the field of Forensic Restoration such as ATP testing, the most dangerous thing on the battlefield of microbial warfare to potentially life threatening pathogens is a highly trained individual with a warrior’s passion and a servant’s heart. 


About Jeff

Jeff Jones is a Certified Bio-Forensic Restoration Specialist® as well as a Certified Forensic Operator® with 50 years of field experience in Forensic Restoration®.   He is a former U.S. Army Soldier, former SWAT team leader, and the youngest person to attend the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. Jones is a Certified Crime Scene Track Investigator as well as a Certified Search and Rescue Tracker. He is a past president of the Restoration Industry Association (RIA), past president of the National Institute of Rug Cleaning, a Certified Rug Specialist, a Certified Master Rug Cleaner, was the first chairman of the Forensic Council and is co-editor of the RIA Forensic Guidelines, as well as a contributor to the ANSI/IICRC S540 Standard for Trauma and Crime Scene Cleanup. Jones is one of the founding members of Bio-Sheen Services LLC in Oklahoma City, Okla. He currently serves as director of forensic operations and the master trainer for The Global BioRisk Advisory Council. Author and lecturer, Jones has taught the protocols and procedures of Forensic Restoration in Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin America. He is considered by many the most experienced Forensic Restoration® field operator in the world.

Gordy Powell

Co-Owner and Senior Partner, Georgia Clean and Associates


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for forensic restoration, and why? 

A: I can answer this in two parts. The way education has evolved, even in as little as the past 10 years, is by far the greatest tool in this industry. With education there is a better knowledge and understanding in not only the assessment of a trauma and death scene, but a better way of understanding and knowing what equipment and remediation practices to put in place, for each job weighs on its own merits.  

The tangible answer would be the use of an air scrubber on most every remediation job site. Understanding the importance of the particles that you are disturbing and making them airborne can create its own hazard. Any technician that has taken an ICRA (Infection Control Risk Assessment) course will have a better understanding of the importance of negative air and a proper air exchange at a job site.       

Q. What advancements to forensic restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A. The crime, trauma and death scene industry has come a long way over the past 25 years. There have been a lot of collective practices in creating the industry standard of care with the S540 and with professional trade associations like American Bio Recovery Association (ABRA). Where the industry is currently still fractured is in the paperwork. In my eyes, I see the next revolution in this industry will be creating a standard of care in contracts being used at a job site and a universal harmony in the verbiage that is being used for line items for billing practices.


About Gordy

Gordy Powell is co-owner and senior partner of Georgia Clean and Associates, and co-founder and president of the Georgia Bio Recovery Association. A steward for education, ethics and advancement in bio-recovery, crime, trauma and death scene cleaning, Powell has been practicing in this space since 1996. He is co-author of the Georgia bill that was signed into law August 4, 2020, officially regulating the crime, trauma and death scene cleaning industry in Georgia.

Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration


David Hodge

Instructor, Reets Drying Academy


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for fire and smoke damage restoration, and why? 

A: Due to the varying aspects of each job, it is difficult to pinpoint a favorite tool. Technology has advanced so much in the past two decades that we now have laser cleaning systems, ultrasonic systems that include electronics cleaning stations, various media blasting systems, and many other advancements! However, outside of our brains, I would say I am most partial to HEPA vacuums and whatever setup a technician uses to provide ventilation. I believe these two processes are extremely vital in providing for the health and safety of both the workers and building occupants. With so many toxic substances that are produced during combustion, many of which are regulated under OSHA and highly carcinogenic, having a means of capturing these prior to and during the cleaning process is paramount!       

Q. What advancements to fire and smoke damage restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A. As I stated in the previous question, media blasting, laser cleaning, ultrasonic and other advancements all stand out. However, the advent of apps such as Encircle and equipment like Matterport has created an opportunity for companies to streamline their processes and make them much more proficient in job processing. It seems that for years, processing a customer’s personal property was a major component of the fire damage claim and much of the financial loss to the customer and carrier revolved around inventorying, pack-outs, cleaning, storage, move-backs and supplies. 

There’s also a common loss to the contractor with, “Your company broke this,” or, “Your guys stole or lost that.” Encircle and other apps help to alleviate many of the contractor’s concerns with theft or lost items, and Matterport helps to identify pre-existing damages that technicians may not have noted otherwise. I often wish we had access to all of these new advancements 25 years ago. As far as what I would like to see, well, that’s simple! A change in the mindset of the industry regarding how the jobs are processed so that safety and health are at the forefront and everyone in the company involved in these jobs takes them seriously.


About David

David Hodge began his full-time career in 1997 as a carpet and upholstery cleaner in east Tennessee. In 1999, he moved into the restoration division of the company, working in the field, processing water, fire, mold and other project damage types. From 2007 until his departure from this company in 2017, Hodge gained status as operations officer and lead estimator, overseeing the daily operations, personnel and processing claims. To date, he has processed or consulted on thousands of property damage claims.

Hodge served in various capacities as a volunteer for the Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), including past chair of the Exams and Education Committee and first vice president for the board of directors. Outside of the cleaning and restoration industry, Hodge was a Firefighter Instructor I / EMT-Advanced, and TEMA HazMat Tech for nine years. He received his Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management and Public Safety from Grand Canyon University and is currently an OSHA authorized Outreach Trainer for the OSHA 10- and 30-Hour General Industry courses.

Patrick Moffett

Senior Environmental/Industrial Hygienist, Blue Sky Environmental Consulting


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for fire and smoke damage restoration, and why? What advancements to fire and smoke damage restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A. I have had success using vapor steam cleaning (VSC) at 200F to 300F. VSC is able to collect and remove smoke film residue while neutralizing smoke odor compounds at the surface and in pores of painted drywall, for example. This process was highly successful in removing protein odors, such as from a kitchen stove fire or a smoldering fire. I discovered VSC is highly effective in removing smoke odors and smoke film from ceiling, wall, and hard-surface flooring impacted by a wildfire. 

Staying with equipment, using electrostatic sprayers that produce a molecular polarity charge or a positive electrostatic charge, of a cleaner, disinfectant or deodorizing chemical on surfaces.   

Another advancement is in smoke odor deodorization chemicals, where chlorine dioxide (ClO2) was successful in neutralizing (oxidizing) compounds that make up smoke. ClO2 can be used in a gas or a liquid. I find it most useful inside attics, crawlspaces, garages and neutralizing chemical odors inside interstitial spaces.


About Patrick

Patrick Moffett is an Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) instructor for water damage restoration, fire and smoke odor remediation, and applied microbial remediation. He is also a master restorer in water and fire. Moffett has authored five books, and hundreds of technical articles and white papers. He specializes in complicated small and large losses involving schools, hospitals, shopping centers and high-rise buildings; industrial commercial properties and factory losses; and catastrophic losses related to whole communities and cities. Moffett has experience as a member of AIHA, RIA, IICRC, AIA, AIQA and EIA. His credentials include but are not limited to: California Licensed General Contractor, Environmental/ Industrial Hygienist, OSHA Compliance Safety Trainer and Certified Master Restorer.

Mold Remediation


Rachel Adams

Project Director, J.S. Held


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for mold remediation, and why?

A. Obviously, there is a mold issue due a water-related event. Therefore, it is important to identify wet building materials. Part of the remediation is to also ensure everything has been effectively dried back to an EMC. Moisture meters such as penetrating and non-penetrating are highly important. Typically, mold remediation is being conducted under a lower partial pressure differential (a.k.a. negative air), but how much negative air is being created? A contractor can always look at the direction the plastic is moving, but that does not ensure the adequate negative pressure of -5 Pascals (-0.02“ water column) has been achieved. A manometer is the only true way to measure the pressure differential that has been created. Some of the manometers can also collect pressure readings and provide a hard copy, which allows the contractor to provide documentation to show the pressure was not compromised during the project. Many times, it is difficult to identify all of the materials that are impacted by mold growth, so using tools such as a borescope allows for inspecting inside wall cavities and flooring assemblies.  Particle counters can also be used to determine breakthrough of a HEPA air filtration device, as well as provide information to the contractor as to the cleanliness of the contained area.

Q: What advancements to mold remediation tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A. Several tools such as thermal imaging cameras and manometers have become better in quality but have also come down in price to allow all sizes of restoration companies to be able to afford the right tools. Meters such as manometers like the Omni Guard are being used more often on high-profile jobs for documentation of pressure differentials and companies are able to bill it out as remote monitoring.   Many newer models of equipment such as HEPA units and dehumidifiers have Bluetooth technology that allows contractors to monitor their equipment even when they are not there to do onsite monitoring. It can indicate to a contractor when equipment is turned off by the customer and confirm the location of the equipment.   


About Rachel

Rachel Adams has been involved in the water damage and environmental health industries for more than 27 years. She holds a Master Restorer designation from the Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) and is a project director for J.S. Held. Adams was founder and president of Indoor Environmental Management, Inc. (IEM) in 1994, where she conducted inspections of residential and commercial buildings throughout the country. She served on the board of directors for the IICRC and was appointed to serve as the technical advisory committee chair for the development of the IICRC Applied Microbial Remediation Technician (AMRT). Adams serves on the committee to write and establish guidelines and updates for the S520, Standard and Reference Guide for Professional Mold Remediation, and currently teaches AMRT, WRT, ASD, HST, OSHA and other classes. She is an honorary board member for the Society of Cleaning and Restoration Technicians (SCRT), and an associate member of the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

Michael A. Pinto

CEO, Wonder Makers Environmental


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for mold remediation, and why?

A. Although, it is a non-traditional answer, the most important tools for mold remediation are motivated and educated workers and supervisors; motivated to want to get the details right and educated to know what the right details are. 

For example, disposable microfiber cleaning cloths are so good at removing small particles that they are often used as the final step of the three-step mold cleaning process in lieu of a second round of HEPA vacuuming. But, if the people using the microfiber cloths do not know how to overlap the cleaning strokes and to only push the cloth in one direction (i.e., no back-and-forth wiping), then the effectiveness of this incredible piece of technology is wasted.

Another good example of this is the use of HEPA-filtered negative air machines (NAM). Everyone in the mold industry seems to know how to set them up to create negative pressure in a containment. But, how many workers routinely divert one or more machines at the end of a project to act as air scrubbers? And, even if they set up a machine to recirculate and scrub the air, do they use diffuser "tails" on the exhaust end so that the air in the work zone is mixed properly so that spores do not get stratified at different heights? Even for the people who are using diffuser tails, do they know that a simple device, with the numerical name of MCI PRV24K, is available that splits a standard NAM exhaust and allows two diffuser tails to be added? One version of the splitter even includes an ionizer that plugs into the NAM to help the small particles coalesce to improve the air scrubbing effect. (See:

Q: What advancements to mold remediation tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A. Several advancements have been around for a few years and still have not gotten the industry acceptance that they should have by now. Using foam applicators for the wet cleaning step instead of garden or hand sprayers helps remove imbedded contaminants, minimizes streaking and uses less antimicrobial chemicals; all good things. (See:

The range of accessories now available to make cleaning more efficient using disposable microfiber cloths is a boon to the restoration industry (See:

One new innovation that should really impact the industry for the better is the line of inflatable containment barriers and decon chambers recently introduced by the Zepplin Guys. Self-supporting, adaptable to myriad situations, tough, cleanable, reusable to minimize waste; what is not to love about this innovative equipment? (See:

I am not sure if sampling really falls under the category of remediation tools, but the ability to test for mycotoxins in the work area and correlate those results to medical tests that identify specific mold poisons in a person’s bloodstream means that the remediation/health connection for mold remediation is stronger than ever. (See:   


About Michael

Michael A. Pinto is chief executive officer of Wonder Makers Environmental, Inc. He has earned six professional designations including Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Certified Mold Professional (CMP). Pinto is the author of over 230 published articles and several books including, “Fungal Contamination: A Comprehensive Guide for Remediation.” He has volunteered extensive time and expertise for the development of the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) Forensic Restoration Guidelines, Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) S520 standard for mold remediation, and the RIA/IICRC/AIHA white papers explaining proper procedures for addressing the SARS CoV-2 through cleaning and application of disinfectants.

Water Damage Restoration


Darren Foote

President, & Remediation Training


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for water damage restoration, and why?

A. From a practical standpoint, one of the most important tools is education. Learn the craft from others who know it and have experienced it. Additionally, there are many important tools necessary for proper water damage restoration to accomplish the task at hand. Of course, equipment to create an enhanced drying environment is critical. However, if I had to narrow it down to the most important, it would be moisture meters. Only through proper understanding and use of moisture meters can we identify the affected areas, verify we have met our drying goals and document the process, which re-establishes the value of the property. Our job is not just to dry. It is to dry and verify. 

Q: What advancements to water damage restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A. After over 30 years of water damage restoration, I am amazed at how far the industry has advanced and am excited to see how far we will go. We used to be a bunch of carpet cleaners or insurance repair contractors who added water extraction and structural drying to our service offerings to meet the needs and requests of our clients. Seeing water damage become its own industry, and the tools developed or adopted in that process, has been incredible. We now have tools to dry out wall cavities and hardwood floors, poke holes in walls, drain multiple dehumidifiers simultaneously, remove wet pad from under partially installed carpet, and to extract water from carpet and pad. There have been enhancements in dehumidification equipment, air movers, airflow adapters and heat equipment. We have meters and IR cameras to find moisture and verify we properly dried the materials. We also now have mobile apps, which allow us to capture it all, monitor remotely as appropriate and provide peace of mind to our clients. Great things have happened, and I am sure there are many more to come.


About Darren

Darren Foote, MWR, CR, WLS, WRT, ASD, AMRT, CMRS, is the president of Remediation Training & Consulting and He has spent the last three decades in the restoration industry personally completing thousands of water, mold and fire damage jobs. He is an approved Institute for Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) instructor and currently serves as the vice-chair of the IICRC WRT technical advisory committee. Foote is also a member of the S500 Consensus Body.

Jeremy Reets

Owner and Instructor, Reets Drying Academy


Q: What do you consider the most important tools for water damage restoration, and why?

A. Today our personnel are the most important resource we have. Tools that help our staff to stay safe and complete the work at the highest delivery level are the most important.  

Training is the most important tool in water damage restoration. Anyone can buy water damage restoration equipment. We need properly trained personnel to make it work. Although there have been significant improvements built into today’s equipment, a properly trained technician could work with any air mover, dehumidifier or specialty equipment you provide them. An investment in training always pays dividends to the company. It is the best way to upgrade our most important resources.

Specialty drying equipment that limits demolition can make the working environment safer. Units that inject air into walls can give a trained tech the option to dry structural materials instead of removing them. Of course, demo is still needed on many projects, but taking advantage of opportunities to limit demo reduces employee exposure to hazards. As an additional benefit, limiting demo increases the profitability of mitigation companies.

Proper training and specialty air injection equipment have made our industry safer and more profitable.  For this reason, they stand out as important in our industry. 

Q: What advancements to water damage restoration tools stand out in your mind, or would you like to see?

A. The most important advancements in tools today are the ones that have made equipment safer for our techs. This is personally important to me. Today, my son is working in the field as a third-generation restorer. I want him and all techs to be able to avoid injury through the advancements in restoration-specific safety training and equipment we can provide today.

Air movers like the new Phoenix Focus 2 Axial are smaller and weigh less than their predecessors.  It weighs 15.5 pounds and the previous axial from Phoenix weighed 29.5 pounds! They weigh almost half as much. Dehumidifiers have followed the same trend.

This makes the trucks we drive smaller and more efficient but, more importantly, the equipment provides an immediate safety advantage for our techs. Our techs set thousands of these air movers every year and that weight reduction keeps them safer.  

The restoration industry is growing rapidly. There is plenty of work available if you have trained personnel to care for it. As we move forward, the most successful companies will be the ones that attract, rapidly build competency in and keep great employees. Providing a safety-focused work environment with opportunities for employees to grow professionally will help your company to grow profitably and sustainably.


About Jeremy

Jeremy Reets started working in water restoration in the family business in 1990. In 2005, Reets opened Reets Drying Academy and a flood house south of Atlanta to provide water damage restoration education. Reets and his siblings also own Champion Cleaning Systems, Inc., the water damage mitigation company that his family started in 1970.