Tips for Salvaging Important Books and Documents After Water Damage

wet booksWhile substitutes for many household possessions can be acquired at a price, salvaging documents after water damage often takes high priority because of the frequently invaluable and irreplaceable nature of these items. Vital financial records, items of family history, photographs, books and other printed material are particularly vulnerable to water inundation and very hard to replace. Water damage recovery professionals who confront these scenarios routinely have developed these workable methods for successfully salvaging documents after water damage.

  • Air drying. This is the most common, low-tech method for drying a small volume of books and papers that may be dampened but not fully saturated.  Fans are utilized to circulate air over damp materials. Items must be individually laid out for air exposure. Pages of books may be interleaved with wax paper to prevent sticking and photos must be separated and dried face-up.
  • Dehumidification. In this method, commercial-grade dehumidifiers are brought on-site to reduce indoor humidity to extremely low levels that promote fast drying. Indoor temperature is also controlled to accommodate the type of materials being dried as well as the extent of saturation.
  • Freeze drying. Wet paper materials may be quickly transferred to a blast freezer and exposed to continuous temperatures as low as -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Fast action is necessary to commence the drying process before mold growth permanently damages paper. The freeze drying process may take several weeks or even months to achieve.
  • Vacuum thermal drying. The introduction of heat into a vacuum chamber dries books and papers that have suffered extreme saturation with water. While the method successfully salvages very wet materials, bound material usually swells and distorts in the process. Rebinding of books after drying is often necessary.

For more information on professional methods for salvaging documents after water damage, contact Rytech.

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