How To Keep Documents Safe From Water Damage

water-damaged documentsBecause water damage is one of the most common homeowner’s insurance claims in the United States, how to keep documents safe from water damage is a well-founded concern. In addition to destruction caused by water itself, wet paper inevitably spawns destructive mold growth, as well. The fact that certain documents may frequently be considered irreplaceable adds additional urgency to this topic. While techniques for salvaging and restoring wet documents, books and photos have advanced in recent years, effective prevention is still far and above the preferred course of action. Here are some recommendations from professional archivists to keep documents safe from water damage:

  • Don’t store important documents or photos in close proximity to water supply pipes, drain pipes or heating/steam pipes. Documents should never be placed directly above or below these components.
  • Avoid using top shelves for document storage, which exposes them to greater risk in the event of roof leakage. If you store important papers on bottom shelves, make sure the shelf is at least six inches off the floor to make contact with water less likely in the event of indoor flooding from a pipe rupture.
  • Purchase quality storage boxes and containers, purpose-built for storing documents and other paper records.
  • Monitor humidity inside rooms where important documents are stored. High humidity may migrate from areas such as a chronically damp basement or flooded crawl space into living and storage spaces, causing secondary damage to paper products.
  • If you’re going to be away for an extended period, consider turning off the main water shutoff valve to the house. This prevents major water damage from a ruptured pipe occurring in your absence.
  • If you have a choice, store valuable documents in a room with a pitched roof which sheds water and is less likely to leak than a flat roof.
  • In rooms where important documents are stored, install flood alarms at floor level to alert you to the presence of water.

For more about how to keep documents safe from water damage as well as professional techniques to salvage wet documents and records, contact Rytech, Inc.

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