A home or business has many things of value in it, but some of the most important are often the most delicate. Documents, for example, are already delicate by being made of paper, but if they are not properly stored, they can erode or even become hard to read as the ink fades from the paper.
This is why, with flooding already a common disaster in the USA and set to increase over the years, there is an increased danger of more damage to the interior of buildings, and with it, damage to documents. That doesn’t mean, however, that once water meets paper, those documents are beyond recovery.
How The Damage Happens
The most common ways for documents to encounter water damage are through flooding or storms. If the water level rises too high and water gets into a building, then furnishings and storage systems like archival cabinets may be affected, and water will penetrate.
In other cases, inadequate preparation for a storm may be the culprit. Failing to board up windows when a severe storm hits, for example, can lead to a break where rain comes into the building. If there are any documents in the area of a structural break, they can be damaged.
Depending on the type and length of exposure, paper documents can be moistened briefly, or they can be completely soaked.
Salvage Is Possible
Surprisingly, even if documents are soaked through, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are beyond recovery. There is a process known as “document drying” that is a very specialized, focused form of salvage and damage recovery that is aimed specifically at paper products.
This can be crucial for some documents which have varying ranges of importance for a home or business. In a work setting, hard copies of contracts, financial records, and other legal documents may not have digital back-ups. This is especially true for archival records. For a home, books signed by favorite authors, photographs of loved ones, and other documents may have an irreplaceable value that goes far beyond monetary worth.
With the right approach and a little luck in the nature of the water damage however, documents may be saved. It is critical, however, to act fast and to work with professionals to preserve as many documents as possible.
How It Works
While it is called “document drying” as a process, this isn’t as simple as leaving something out to air dry or putting it in a machine like a laundry dryer. One of the more successful techniques involves freezing already wet documents until they are solid.
The documents that are frozen solid are then subjected to a freeze-drying process. This safely removes the moisture from the paper without damaging it in the way that can occur with using heat to dry out a document. This is a very specialized form of restoring delicate contents of a home or business and requires specific equipment and experience to do reliably and successfully.
If you have documents that have been damaged by water and you’d like to try to save them, maybe we can help. Contact Blackhill Restoration and let us see the scope of the work and look at any other damage you may have, such as flooding, fire, mold, or even biohazard clean up.