Saving Your Books After a Flood

Saving Your Books After a Flood

The clean up after a disaster can be overwhelming. Professionals will be needed for handling a great deal of the clean up. Their technology will ensure a safe, effective cleaning job. However, it can be difficult to stand by and let the professionals handle things when you want to take control and restore your environment.

If your home is filled with books and papers, you can take specific measures following a flood to lessen the amount of damage caused by exposure to water. The restoration of bound materials can be expensive. There is a lot of controversy among professionals regarding the best way in which to dry and restore books. Some believe restoring the books is not worth the cost. But others find simple, cost-free methods often work fairly well.

The Beginning Phase of Drying

The initial condition of the book will determine the flood’s effects. Different types of paper absorb water at different rates. So some restoration methods will work for some books, but not for others. The first step is to ensure you will be working in a safe environment. Restoration efforts should not begin until flood waters have subsided and the home has been officially declared structurally sound.

The professionals will help manage the overall environment of your home so you will not have to be concerned with health and safety of the environment while taking care of the restoration of your personal library. Speak with them about creating the ideal environment for book restoration. Temperature, humidity, and bacteria will all play a role, and they will have the technology and experience to help you control these things. You will want air flow to help with drying, and you will want to reduce the humidity in the home. The dehumidifiers used to dry the carpet and other damaged areas should be enough to help with the books. While the books are still wet, do not open them, separate the sheets of paper, or remove paper covers. This can result in further damage and increase the cost of the restoration.

If the books have been exposed to dirt, debris, and mud damage, cleanup will be more complicated. The safest time to clean them is once they are completely dry. The outside of books can have their mud damage lightly scraped or wiped away. Avoid rubbing and brushing the pages. In extreme cases, wetting the books to remove the mud prior to the extensive drying process may be advisable. Holding the book tightly closed, you can submerse it in water to remove the mud, and then compress the book to remove the saturation of water.

How Freezing Will Help

One of the most widely used methods of restoring water damaged books is by freezing. This can be done in your home freezer. However, if your collection is too large, speak with neighbors and family members concerning their available freezer space. Remember that freezing is not a drying method and it does not kill mold spores. It is effective in controlling the mold growth, and gives you time to determine which books can be cleaned in the home, which may need professional methods of cleaning, and which can not be restored. Freezing may also help keep the structure of the book intact. It stabilizes dyes and inks which may otherwise bleed and make the book unreadable.

Following the freezing and stabilizing of your book collection, additional restoration may be required. As you sort through your book collection and other items, determine which of your belongings are worth the effort of restoration. While most homeowners will want to save everything, it can be costly to pay for restoration of all items in the home.


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