Water damage incidents usually catch home owners by surprise, leaving them feeling helpless and simply not knowing where to start. Right away it seems they face a number of tough questions. Should I call a professional water damage restoration service? Is my property and/or family’s health at risk? Can any of this even be saved?
The hardest of these questions for many people may be the last one. Family pictures and precious heirlooms can and do become damaged during these incidents and these items are often the hardest to replace and the toughest to lose. The key though, 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 are some things the homeowner can do to at least start the process while they wait for the cavalry to arrive.
Time is of the Essence
If a property owner is going to attempt to salvage their water damaged photos and books on their own, they must act quickly. Mould 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 speed 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 though 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.
Preserving Your Photos
Photos are admittedly significantly more difficult to save than books. They often become stuck together once they become wet, or they can even become stuck to the frames in which they were kept and the inks may begin to run rather quickly, distorting the image.
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 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 snapped (with your phone is fine) in case the quality continues to deteriorate (really, it’s better than nothing should everything not go to plan) but as far as possible you should 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. 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. You can 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 and if you are then able to hand off the work to a pro once they arrive the chances that your precious items can be saved is even higher.