Had to hunt in my files for old stuff from an ancient vital records manual
I developed
 re water damage.

Hope this helps.


[log in to unmask]

4.6     Notes on Water Damage Recovery

General Concerns

Water damage is the most frequently encountered disaster that affect
business records.  Pipes can burst in a bad freeze, a storm, or earthquake.
  In fact air conditioning or water pipes have been known to burst under
the most benign conditions.

Paper absorbs water at a frightening rate.  The age, condition and
composition of paper determines the rate at which it absorbs water.  Bound
volumes incur tremendous damage in the first eight hours of exposure.
Paper manufactured since 1840 absorbs moisture to an average of 60 % of its

Stabilizing the environment and situation should be a first priority.  In
winter, turn off all heat to the area.  In the summer every effort should
be made to reduce heat and humidity.  The objective is to avoid pockets of
moist stagnant air.   Mould usually appears within 48 hours after water
damage occurs.

Before removing water -soaked records, determine whether freeze drying,
vacuum drying or air drying will be the recovery method.  This of course
depends on the availability of services in the region where the damage or
disaster has occurred.  The most likely recovery method will be air drying.

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RAISE THE TEMPERATURE to dry out the records as this only
hastens mould growth.  Open doors and windows to increase the airflow.
Dehumidifiers and fans may be brought in to hasten the drying process.  If
mould does develop, consider the need to use fungicidal defogging in the

damage contents and any hope of restoration.

adhere to each other and make restoration difficult.

DO NOT WIPE OFF mud or dirt.

AVOID FREEZING of photographs, or films.

If freeze drying is necessary, arrangement should be made to use on-site
freezers or to ship the materials in refrigerated trucks to a freeze drying
site as soon as possible.

Steps in Recovery for Water Damaged Paper

1.      Make an estimate of the volumes of records for storage and drying.
Make an estimate of the usable space at the site for restoration.  Also
estimate supply requirements for restoration.  See list in Appendix C.

2.      If several areas are damaged, establish priorities for salvage.

3.      If possible try and control temperature and humidity (if controls
are still working).  Try to reach 18.3 C & 50 % humidity if possible.  A
constant temperature is better than one which is wildly fluctuating.
Arrange for portable fans, dehumidifiers, milk crates (if large scale
removal is necessary).
        Packing & Transferring
4.      Set up a team or teams to deal with wet materials, taking off
shelf, carrying handling, packing etc.  Train any volunteers on site.

5.      Assign one person to make a record / inventory of the salvage
effort.  i.e. Note what was completely destroyed and what is being removed
for salvage (series names - ranges - types of records).  This individual
will catalogue and label or mark removed boxes or packed crates.

6.      If a remote site (21-25C & 30 -35% humidity) has been established,
arrange and coordinate transportation of the records.

7.      Remove the wettest files from the area(s) first, since this will
lower humidity levels.  In cabinets, this will mean the lower drawers. When
you pack files try to avoid twisting or compressing the folders.

8.      Inventory files as they are removed pack them in crates (wet) or
boxes (dry).  Plastic milk crates allow good circulation, are non -
crushable and are easy to carry or stack.  In the absence of plastic
crates, cardboard boxes may be lined with freezer paper.

9.      At the interim site/restoration area,  assemble tables , leaving
sufficient aisle space for easy movement.  Cover the tables with paper
towelling or absorbent paper.  Designate one table for supplies.

10.     Place the first group(box or crate) of files on the table.  Record
their titles on a location sheet.
        Separating Wet Papers
11.     Dampen a sheet of polyester film with a sponge.  Lay it on top of a
pile of wet sheets.  The surface tension of the water will allow one or
several sheets to adhere to the polyester film.  Take this material and the
attached sheets and place the whole pile polyester side down on the table.

12.     Repeat the process until you have a single sheet of paper attached
to a polyester sheet.  Place this last item (the polyester and the single
sheet) on the table with the polyester sheet underneath.  Place a dry
polyester web over top of the wet sheet, turn it over and place another dry
polyester web on top creating a sandwich.  Move the sandwich to a drying
table. and record its location ( or place in order carefully).
        Note: film is used for separation only, webbing is used for
creating the drying sandwiches.
        An alternative to drying tables is the use of clotheslines and
clothes pegs.  Use pegs that will attach the papers to the line fairly
loosely to avoid damage or tearing of the wet paper.

13.     Using the location sheet if necessary as an index, reassemble the
files in their original order and place in an appropriate sized folder.
Re-label the folder in pencil.

14.     Pass the dried file to record staff for any further restoration
needed.  Repairs to ripped pages etc.  Records staff should randomly check
for mould.

        Note: if mould is suspected at any time thymol impregnated sheets
maybe used as an additional interleave.  This involves use of a toxic and
caustic solution and should only be done under strict supervision and with
the assistance of a conservator or archivist.

15.     Ensure that filing cabinets have been dried and cleaned for several
days before returning the files to regular storage.

Steps in Recovery for Water Damaged Magnetic Tapes OR Diskettes

1.      Use a similar cataloguing or inventory procedure as for paper

2.      Separate wet from dry tapes/diskettes.  Empty water from
tape/diskette containers.

3.      Check labels for legibility and replace if necessary.

4.      Allow tapes/diskettes to dry without heating in an area with high
air circulation.

5.      Once dry, run tapes on a tape cleaner or winder to remove debris.
Clean the tape transport after each wind/rewind pass. If diskettes have
evidence of debris, do not attempt to use, but discard.

6.      Copy tapes or diskettes before checking data.  Verify data from the
new tape or diskette.

Steps in Recovery for Water Damaged Photographic Materials

1.      Immediately immerse photographs in clean cold water.  Plastic
garbage cans or basins are preferable.  Keep immersion time to a minimum.

2.      Keep the photographs wet until they have been separated from their
envelopes and each other.  Do not allow them to dry in contact with each

3.      Rinse the photographs in clean water if they are covered in dirt or
debris.  Place them face up on nylon screens or clean paper.  If the
emulsion layer is quite hard, prints can be placed face down to avoid

4.      If photographs cannot be recovered immediately, freeze, thaw and
air dry.  If items stick, you may have to re-immerse the photographs in
water to ensure that they do not dry together.


Water Damaged Records

10      Plastic Milk Cases (To Interim Store Water Damaged Records)
        (Several rolls of Freezer paper may be needed to line cardboard

120 sq.ft       Newsprint (Roll Ends) or Absorbent Towels
6       Polyethylene (plastic) Sheeting 8' x 4'
10-15   Polyester Film Sheets (3/1000" thick) 9"x12"

200     Polyester Web Sheets 9"x12"
        *        items required per 100 sheets or 1' file - these can be

1       Bucket

2       Hand Sponges
6       Folding Tables 6' x 2.5'
2       Clotheslines along with several hundred clothespins

1       Bottle - Disinfectant

1       Clipboard (with Location Sheet)

Access to Fans
Access to Dehumidifiers
Access to Freezers
Adequate supplies of replacement folders, fasteners, and labels