Salvaging Photos From Water Or Flood Damage

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Living through a flood can be an emotionally devastating experience as you watch the damage it inflicts on your personal belongings. Most physical items can be repaired or replaced, but when floods threaten to engulf your memories, too, you may find it more difficult to handle. If your old family albums have been damaged by flood waters, you may think those memories are lost forever. Many photos can be saved even if they are saturated with grimy flood waters. Here's what you need to do to rescue photos that have suffered flood or water damage.

  1. Determine whether you have digital copies or negatives for the photos. If so, it may be easier to simply reprint the photos and recreate the album. If you do not have other copies of the photos, proceed with the following steps to try to salvage the damaged photos.
  2. Fill a basin or pan with lukewarm water.
  3. Gently remove the photos from the album if you can do so without damaging them. If the photos are stuck to the album pages, or are stuck together, do not try to remove them at this time. This may further damage the photos.
  4. Avoid touching the surface of the photos with your hands and do not try to wipe away dirt or residue. The wet emulsion may blur or rub off, making it impossible to restore the images.
  5. Place the photos in the basin of water and let them soak for at least one hour to remove dirt and debris. Change the water frequently if it becomes discolored or contains visible debris.
  6. Gently separate photos that are stuck together, again avoiding touching the surface of the photo.
  7. Rinse the photos with clean water.
  8. Allow excess water to drip from the photos.
  9. Place the photos on an absorbent material, such as paper towels, to dry. Do not use newspapers, as the print may transfer to the photos.
  10. Lay the photos out in a single layer so that the edges of the photos are not touching each other.
  11. Open windows, run a fan or turn on the dehumidifier to reduce the humidity in the area. To help reduce humidity in the area, you can purchase moisture absorbers or make your own by filling a shallow pan with kitty litter. This will speed the drying process. Fans should be set to circulate the air but should not be pointed directly on the photos. This may cause the photos to shift as they dry and may cause them to overlap.
  12. Place weights on the edges of the photos as they dry to prevent them from curling.

Sometimes, drying the photos immediately is not an option, but there are ways to deal with that, too. Follow these steps if drying the photos immediately is not feasible.

  1. Soak and rinse the photos as directed above.
  2. Stack the photos, placing a sheet of waxed paper between each photo.
  3. Place the photos in a larger freezer bag and seal the bag.
  4. Place the bag of photos in the freezer. This prevents mold and mildew from growing on the photos and preserves them until you have time to attend to them.
  5. Remove the photos from the freezer and allow them to thaw before separating the photos.
  6. Dry the photos as described above.

Not all photos can be saved, but many can. If you have irreplaceable photos, take a picture of them before drying them. It won't be as good as the original, but it will help to preserve memories that might otherwise be lost. Check with family members and friends to see if anyone has duplicate (or digital) copies of the photos.  If you have ever shared them on social media or in other digital albums, you may be able to download a digital version of the photo. You may consider contacting a professional photo restoration company to restore your genealogical images or other valuable photos.

For more tips on restoring your items after a flood, contact a local water damage repair company like Accutech Restoration

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5 April 2016

Making Things Right Again

When your home is damaged from a flood, fire, or natural disaster, it might feel like you will never recover. However, with the help of professional damage recovery teams, you might be able to make things right again. I have experienced life-changing events like this, and I can tell you that the sooner you start working on repairing your life, the better off you will be. This blog is all about the tools and resources available to you, and what you can do to start working day by day to make things like they once were. I know you can heal from this trial, and my blog is here to help.