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Drying Documents and Books
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Drying Documents and Books

Have you ever had wet books, certificates, licenses, contracts, photographs, maps, manuals or other documents? If you have ever faced this problem, you might understand that drying documents and books is harder than it seems.

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Water has very strong destructive properties and water damage has been known to cause structural and integral damage to a home and its components like wood, metal, cardboard and organic fibers. If left unabated or unattended, the results can be rot, deterioration and eventually irreparable damage.

Books, for instance, can be ruined, warped or deformed beyond recognition or usability. Particularly if the homeowners decided to dry them on their own accord using improper ways of performing document drying. Damage to water exposed books can occur within a span of one or up to four hours after the items have been soaked in water. Pages can swell as the materials absorb more and more amounts of moisture. The bindings and the cardboard-based covers are of different materials from the pages and have different water absorption rates. These differences would result in the pages swelling more and causing the bindings to deform. In some cases, the pages detach themselves from the bindings and causing further damage.

In some cases, water damage occurs not because of direct exposure to water, but due to other reasons such as humidity. High levels of humidity in damp places such as basements or attics, which result in higher moisture absorption, can eventually lead to water damage. This results in the rapid deterioration of the item and if left unattended could result in damage beyond repair.

What about drying your documents?

Loose Papers

When handling loose paper sheets extra care should be employed to prevent further damage like tears or smudges. Dirt and grime, particularly if the water damage was caused by floods, can be removed using clean water. Each sheet can be layered out on paper towels to dry using a dehumidifier and if possible set up a drying chamber to house the documents. You also want to make sure you use only plain paper towels avoiding using towels with ink prints on the surface.

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Books and Manuals

A technique that can be used for water damaged books is to isolate them inside an enclosed area with a dehumidifier that can remove the moisture inside the area. This method is effective in drying out wet books; however, a problem that could arise would be on how to prevent deformation during the drying process.

drying chamber for dehumidification drying documents first restoration services

Vacuum Freeze-Drying Method

In this method, the wet item is frozen at a very fast rate to prevent the water from creating further deterioration on the paper material. A freezer that is set to -40 degree Celsius is used for this purpose. The frozen book is then placed inside a vacuum chamber and the temperature inside the chamber is slowly elevated to thaw the material out. Evaporated moisture is removed from the chamber by the vacuum as the temperature is slowly elevated further. To prevent deformation, mechanical placeholders clamp down on the books hindering any movements resulting in warped pages or cover.

Any of these methods are effective restoration techniques. However, homeowners should expect that water damaged books may not be fully restored to pre-damaged conditions. Ink smears and tears prior to the recovery process will remain permanent. Recovery though is still at a high percentage and restored books would once again be usable. Again, the homeowner should gauge the worth of the book or document versus the cost incurred to hire the services of a restoration company.

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