Dealing With Water Damage: Document Drying

water damage document sharing

Among the most permanent consequences of water damage to a home is the potential loss of vital documents. From insurance policies and tax records, to legal papers like wills and property titles, to irreplaceable keepsakes like handwritten letters from loved ones, exposure to water damage poses a very real danger of destruction. Certain common-sense preventative measures should always be taken:

  • Avoiding storing important documents in areas that could be vulnerable to flooding like the basement. Also, always store documents on higher shelves elevated above floor level.
  • Place vital papers inside 12-inch sealable plastic bags and/or inside waterproof sealed plastic containers.
  • Scan critical documents to a permanent media like a DVD or flash drive, or upload to online storage, so a digital copy will always be available.

If worse comes to worst, and paper documents are affected by water damage, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Act quickly. Water damage plus time is a destructive equation when wet documents are involved. Once documents are accessible, begin protective steps, ASAP.  
  • Move papers to a dry area with low humidity.
  • Carefully separate wet pages. Place each individual sheet of paper on a plain white (unprinted) paper towel.
  • Put each sheet and paper towel in an area with direct sunlight. Place paperweights on the corners of each paper to prevent curling.
  • Keep air circulating in the room with a fan. Don’t blow air directly on drying paper. Direct fan airflow upwards and away from the paper.  
  • Until the documents dry fully, continue to regularly replace the wet paper towel under each document.

Mold growth is destructive to paper and usually triggered about 36 hours after water damage. If you can’t initiate drying techniques in that time frame, put documents in one or more 12-inch sealable plastic bags and place them in the freezer. Freezing documents interrupts the process of mold growth and allows you to delay the drying process until some later time.  

For extremely valuable and/or irreplaceable papers, commercial document restoration and drying services that utilize specialized vacuum-freezing drying technology are available.

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