What I need to know about drying important documents
Water damage is one of the most common causes of lost or damaged documents, and it can cause serious problems if not handled properly. The best way to protect your valuable documents from water damage is to take proactive measures to prevent them from getting wet in the first place. If you're lucky enough that your valuable documents have already been exposed to water without causing any harm, then this article will help guide you through the steps necessary for drying them out safely at home or sending them off for professional treatment.
How do I know if my document is water damaged?
Check for physical damage. The most obvious sign of water damage is if your document has been torn or ripped in places, especially along the edges. This can happen when pieces of paper stick together when wet and then separate when they dry out.
Look for discoloration and mold. If there are stains on the surface of your important papers, it may be caused by moisture seeping into them from the outside (i.e., rain) or within (i.e., humidity). Also check for discoloration along with any other signs of mold growth.
Check for odor. If your documents smell musty or damp after being stored away from direct sunlight/heat sources such as windowsills or radiators
What happens if I don't dry my documents?
If you're not careful, water damage can cause a number of problems with your documents. These include:
- Mold and mold spores--Mold can grow on wet paper.
- Ink running--When ink runs, the words become illegible and may be impossible to read later on. This is especially problematic for handwritten documents where the ink will run into other parts of the page as well as overtop any other writing that might be present there already.
- Paper swelling--Swelling occurs when moisture gets trapped between layers within your document or book as well as between pages themselves (especially when there's no protective cover). The swelling will result in warping or curling which makes reading difficult if not impossible altogether.
How can I tell if my documents are in danger of being damaged by water?
Before you can decide what to do with your wet documents, you need to know the cause of the damage. Water damage can be caused by a number of things, A flood or leak in your home or office building (including fire sprinklers). A burst pipe or broken water main in your home or office building. Flooding due to heavy rain or snow melt.
If this is not clear from looking at your documents, contact a professional who can help identify whether they have been damaged by water and what steps should be taken next.
My document is water damaged, what should I do next?
You should first try to dry the document by laying it flat and in a cool, dry place. Letting the document sit in direct sunlight can also help to speed up the process. If this doesn't work and your important documents are still too wet to be handled safely, try using a dehumidifier or vacuum cleaner. A fan can also be used to speed up drying time, but make sure that it isn't blowing directly on your documents! Once your papers have been dried out properly, store them in an airtight container until they're ready for normal use again (or until you need them).
When will my document be completely dry?
The drying time will depend on the type of paper and your drying method. Paper towels are generally much faster than blotting with a cloth or tissue, but they also tend to leave behind more lint.
If you're in a hurry and don't want to wait for your document to dry naturally, consider using a hair dryer or fan instead of air conditioning--both methods work equally well for most documents (and both use less energy). If possible, though, try not to expose important documents directly into any direct sunlight because UV light can cause fading over time.
You may also want to consider using an electric dehumidifier if possible, these machines remove moisture from the air around them so that it doesn't reach dangerous levels within enclosed spaces like closets or drawers where sensitive materials are stored away from direct contact with human hands.
Drying your documents can be a daunting task. However, it is important to remember that if you act quickly and properly, the damage may not be as bad as you think it will be. Give SERVPRO a Portland a call to assist in your document drying process after a water loss.