Monday, January 28, 2013

Saving Books and Photos from Water Damage

Water damage incidents catch property owners by surprise, oftentimes leaving them feeling helpless and not knowing where to start. These victims face a variety of difficult questions. Should I call a Professional? Is my family’s health at risk? Can I even salvage this? The hardest of these questions may be the last one. Family pictures and other heirlooms can become damaged during incidents and these items are often the hardest to replace. Many water damage victims feel that these were their greatest loss throughout the entire ordeal. The key to saving these items is to act as quickly as possible. While taking all of your photos and books to a professional restoration company is always the best option, there is not always one available. If this is the case, there are things a property owner can do to try and save their photos and books.

If a property owner is going to attempt to salvage their photos and books on their own, they must act quickly. Mold and mildew can begin growing in as little as 48 hours and once it does, restoration becomes far more difficult. The first thing that should be done is to remove all of the items from the water and to lightly rinse them with clean water. After rinsing is complete, books and photos can be lightly shaken to help the drying process. Books should then be placed in a plastic bag and put in the freezer. This plastic bag should not be vacuum-sealed because it will inhibit the drying process. The freezer will continue to suck the moisture out of the book completely, but the length of time to do so could vary. Books that are long or thick in length could take up to a couple of weeks to dry. While this may seem inconvenient, it could save the quality of the book entirely.

Photos are significantly more difficult to salvage than books. They can often become stuck together once they become wet, or they can even become stuck to the frames in which they were kept. The best way to separate a photo from another photo, or from its frame, is to soak it in warm water and apply light pressure. This warm water will help aid in the separation process, and will help to reduce the damage to the photo. Photos that have come into contact with water are in a very volatile state. If a photo is still clear, a picture of the photo should be taken in case the quality continues to deteriorate. Property owners should also avoid coming in contact with the image side of a photograph. Once photos have been separated they can be placed in plastic bags in the freezer. The freezer bags should not be vacuum-sealed and multiple photos can be placed in a bag with wax paper in between. The freezer will suck moisture out of the photos, but they will need to be laid out for final drying. If a property owner does not have access to a freezer, they can skip straight to the final drying stage. Photos should be laid out flat on a surface that is not in direct sunlight. Fans and dehumidifiers can also be used to aid in this final drying step. Some property owners choose to use weights to help prevent curling of their photos as they finish drying.

While there are no guarantees when dealing with water damaged books and photos, these methods have worked for many.

This article was provided by Anderson Restoration and Emergency Services, remediating water damage in Jacksonville, Florida for over 30 years. Anderson Restoration provides emergency response for all disasters 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

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