Water damage hits without warning. Your home can be perfectly dry one moment, and the next day you are dealing with a cracked pipe and a basement full of water. When we think of flood damage, we tend to think of structural damage or larger items like electronics or furniture damage. We rarely think about documents being the victim of water damage.
However, documents can become damaged just as easily as other items in your home, and it’s important to know how to handle water damaged documents if a flood destroys important documents like social security cards, stocks and bonds, deeds, or even wills.
How to Handle Wet Documents
When talking about important documents we’re referring to papers like legal documents, birth certificates, social security cards, stocks or bonds, bank statements, etc… but also consider sentimental documents like photographs and school projects!
If the space in your home allows a waterproof safe is a great way to protect these items from the elements. Most safes will protect from water and fire – which is a great investment!
If a safe isn’t an option, and you find yourself caught with water damage in the house with a soggy pile of papers, don’t panic. It isn’t a lost cause just yet. Most residential documents can be preserved simply by air drying techniques. You may see a bit of paper discoloration, but for the most part, your document should stay intact.
When water damage strikes where there is organic material (like paper!) it is a perfect recipe for mold. Mold can begin to grow on items in as quickly as 2 to 3 days, and mold spores can spread from the paper to other areas of your home if left untreated.
It is important to call in a professional team quickly to help prevent the spread of mold. To help prevent the mold growth until the McMahon Services team arrives, begin by blotting up as much water as possible from your papers. You can use rags or paper towels to complete this step. Fans that are not pointed directly at the documents can also be used to circulate the air.
Signs of Paper Distortion
If books have been damaged by water, they will begin to distort at the first touch of water. Covers and pages will begin to warp, making the paper extremely fragile. If you are handling a water-damaged book, follow the steps below:
- Do not open a closed book or close an open book.
- Do not separate covers from text pages.
- Only handle one item at a time – do not stack books.
- Do not press the water out of more than one page at a time.
- If you are working with unbound documents, keep all pages in order.
Working with Photographs
- Do not let wet photographs come in contact with each other. If they dry on top of one another, the pictures can stick together.
- Never touch the print side of the photographs. If they are wet, the ink can easily rub off.
- It is best to hang photographs and negatives to dry, don’t try to squeeze the water out of a picture.
Replacing Legal Documents
When dealing with legal documents, there are several resources that are useful to residents. Many documents are not valid if they are damaged, and replacements can be requested online with little effort. Here are some handy resources to check into:
Call in McMahon Services
At McMahon Services we are here to handle any water damage that happens in your home. We will not only find the source of the damage but work quickly to stop the issue and assist with clean up and restoration if needed. Call us today (we offer emergency services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!).