What do you do when water damages your documents?

Damaged Documents?

It happens all the time: the basement that your documents are stored gets flooded, or the roof of your archive leaks. Perhaps, the upstairs neighbor’s shower leaked, and the water poured through your ceiling. Often, archives go unattended for long periods of time, and the damage is not discovered until much later. When you enter the space, all you see is wet paper. You scream loudly, and silently hope that the documents are not too badly damaged. What do you do?

Step 1: Act fast!

When you are trying to recover wet documents, you are racing against time! Mold and mildew can start growing on wet paper within 24-48 hours. You must act NOW. If you don’t know what to do, call Dasta at +995 32 2 900 112 for a free consultation.

Step 2: Dry documents when possible, and circulate air

Drying is the most important step in trying to prevent mold growth, and to recover your wet documents:

  • Air dry where possible: place fans around the documents to circulate the air
  • Towels can absorb some of the moisture and prevent the documents sticking to hard surfaces
  • Separate the documents as much as possible, so as much surface as possible is exposed for drying
  • If the documents are strong enough, you may consider drying them on a clothes line – the gravity will pull out a lot of the moisture
  • For books, you can use a method called “interleaving”: putting paper (such as a kitchen paper) between the different pages of the book to absorb the moisture. Don’t put it between every page – every 25 pages or so is enough.
Step 3: Keep it cold

Remember, mold likes humid and warm environments. Mold doesn’t grow at low temperatures. Therefore, consider the following:

  • You want to keep you wet documents in a room that is as cold as it can possible be.
  • If you don’t have a way of immediately drying your documents, consider using a freezer if you have one available. This will save you time and prevent mold growth.
  • Dasta has a cold room available. Call us for more information.

A flooded archive is not fun, and it can take you a lot of time and effort to get your documents back into shape. If you need some help, give us a call. We have experience recovering wet documents, and an initial consultation is always free.

Good luck!