Water Damage Photos, Books and Paper

When water damage or flooding strikes a property, the structure may be severely damaged, and that in itself is bad enough.  The headaches that come along with the repairs can be major, but often times some of the smaller items that are damaged may be just as devastating.  I’m speaking of course of water damaged contents such as water damaged  photos, documents, or water damaged books which may have some sentimental value.  Can such pieces be saved?

Water damaged document recovery

Water damaged document recovery

Well, the answer is yes, provided that they weren’t just completely destroyed by the water, and that you take immediate action to properly treat them.

Salvaging Water Damaged Photos:

  • Photos with negatives can be replaced, which is the easiest course.  Photos with no negative backup should receive priority treatment.
  • Photos may sometimes be successfully re-photographed just in case the original cannot be saved.
  • Handle wet photos around the edges.  Fingers can damage the surface.
  • Photos that are stuck together may be soaked in warm water.  After about an hour they should be loose enough to pull apart without causing further damage.  Work slowly to prevent harming the photos.
  • Rinse the photos and seal them in a plastic bag.
  • You can also dry wet photos in a freezer, allowing them to dry face up.
  • Do not dry photos in direct sunlight.  This may cause them to dry too quickly and warp, harden, or crack.
  • Add weights to the tip of each photo to prevent them from curling.
  • Having a digital back up of each photo in your collection provides insurance against a treasured picture being lost forever.

Salvaging Water Damaged Books:

  • Do not open books, or fan the pages, or remove bindings
  • Stand the book on end and allow the water to drain.
  • Use fans to circulate air around the books you are drying.  Do not aim the fans directly at the books.
  • You can also freeze wet books or any type of wet paper.  This will prevent the growth of mold until such time as you can have the books professionally treated.
  • It is important to treat water damaged books with care.  Once print has smudged or begins to run, there is no hope of getting it to look normal again.  As with most water restoration chores, it is important to do the job right the first time.
  • Do not attempt to air-dry vellum or leather bound books without first consulting a qualified conservator.  Remember that wet paper tears even more easily than normal.

About Dan Camara

Dan Camara is the CEO of PuroClean Home Rescue in Sacramento. We have been helping the good folks of Northern California with water damage dryouts, mold removal and fire cleanups for nearly 5 years now. Connect with me on Google+
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