Thursday, October 4, 2012

Disaster Recovery - Vacuum-Freeze Drying is the Key to Salvaging Wet Documents

After a flood, fire or storm, most disaster victims will tell you that the resulting water damage was the most destructive part of the event. Water damage and the mold that follows are some of the most common and problematic results of a disaster because they can affect every part of a building or home – from plywood to plaster to precious family photos.

While you can replace many items, you can’t replace one-of-a-kind photos, heirloom books or other important documents. You can save them, however, if you act quickly with vacuum-freeze drying.

Water Damage Classifications

Whenever there is water damage, disaster recovery experts generally classify it in one of three ways:

Clean water describes water damage that doesn’t pose a health risk. Examples of clean water damage can include a leaky pipe or a bathtub that overflowed.

Grey water refers to water that has biological, physical or chemical contaminants in it to varying degrees. The water that flows down the drain after you wash your hands, for example, is grey water. If you consume or are exposed to grey water, there is a risk of falling ill. Some of the most common sources of grey-water damage come from washing machine, toilet or dishwasher leaks.

Black water is the term used for water that’s unsanitary because of the possible fungal, bacterial and chemical agents within it. Exposure to black water can lead to severe illness. Sources of black water include seawater, contaminated bodies of water and sewage.

Any type of water damage, regardless of its classification, can be severe. The restoration technique used for salvaging wet documents depends on the type of water damage that occurred. If you believe your documents were affected by grey or black water damage, contact your local fire department or water bureau for assistance with making the affected area safe.

Vacuum-Freeze Drying

Vacuum-freeze drying is the answer when you think you’ve lost your documents, books, photos or other precious items to water damage. As one of the best-recognized methods in the restoration industry, the high-tech process of vacuum-freeze drying is excellent for books, fragile items and large volumes of documents.

When your documents are wet, professionals place them in a special chamber that brings the temperature down to between 0 and -20 degrees Fahrenheit. The pressure within the chamber instantly vaporizes the ice that forms so there is no risk of it melting and causing additional page tearing or ink bleeding. A high-tech sensor within the chamber monitors the reduction in weight as the vacuum-freeze drying process occurs and notifies the professionals when the documents are dry. This sensor helps prevent over-drying, which can harm documents.     

The best vacuum-freeze drying systems come with variable settings. These settings allow document restoration experts to create the optimal conditions within the chamber for different types of wet documents, such as old books that need extra care, clay-coated papers or large volumes of documents.

When you experience a disaster, vacuum-freeze drying gives you peace of mind; your wet documents are not lost. With this specialized restoration technique, you can preserve even your rarest or most fragile documents and receive the highest-quality results.

Joe Perko is Director of Field Services at Rapid Refile. Rapid Refile is a recognized leader in document restoration and recovery, vacuum-freeze drying, mold remediation and flood restoration services for businesses and individuals.

Be aware, Be informed. Be prepared.