Matthews offers advice on drying out flooded crematory equipment after a hurricane
For the hundreds of death care businesses that saw damage from the recent hurricanes on the U.S. Gulf Coast, leading equipment manufacturer Matthews Environmental has advice on drying out flooded cremators. Because of their design, most Matthews units can withstand as much as 3 ½ feet of water and still recover without major repairs.
“The most critical concern is the control panel,” says Matthews Service Supervisor Matt Crumbaker. “As long as the electrical components haven’t gotten wet then the recovery is pretty simple.” If the controls did get wet, then he advises contacting the manufacturer or service provider for a more complete inspection.
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According to Crumbaker, on units where the controls weren’t submerged, the biggest challenge is getting all of the moisture out of the combustion areas. The refractory lining in most cremators is a porous material that will absorb and retain water. It must be dried gradually to avoid damage to both the cremator and the surrounding facility.
“If you heat the machine too quickly without drying it out, the water will turn to a large volume of steam, expanding quickly and damaging the cremator,” Crumbaker says. In extreme cases the resulting pressure could even cause an explosion. The solution is to drain away the visible water and then heat the unit slowly to remove any remaining moisture. (See sidebar)
“When we deliver a unit, we cure the refractory to remove all the moisture and let it settle into place,” Crumbaker says. “Basically, a flooded unit needs to repeat that process.