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Step by Step Guide to Drying a Wet Book

2024-06-17 18:15


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  • Moisture and damp can cause significant damage to books. SERVPRO has compiled a guide to drying a wet book that you can use.

    Water damage is a common and annoying nuisance that affects property owners all over the world. Forming from multiple sources, natural disasters, leaky pipes, and malfunctioning appliances.  Here at SERVPRO®, we make water damage “Like it never even happened.” That includes drying any books that have been affected by water damage. Moisture and books are not a winning combination, often resulting in torn pages, faded covers, or pages stuck together if left untreated. Luckily, it doesn’t matter if a book is soaked, moderately wet, or just a little damp; restoring it to excellent condition is possible.  

    Drying a Soaking Wet Book 

    • Removing excess water:  According to Archival Methods, start by removing the book from the water source. You can accomplish this by sloshing the water off or patting the book with a paper towel. If your book is dripping due to the amount of water that has been exposed to it, be careful not to open it, as its pages will be delicate and easily ripped. Instead, focus your efforts on removing the outside water first. 
    • Stand the book up: Next, place down a few dry paper towels or dry rags on a flat space with plenty of room; the goal is to stand the book up without any sagging or deformation of the shape of the book. Accomplishing this goal with a stiff-back book is simple enough: slightly separate each cover. Take extra care not to open the individual pages of the books. Paperback books may be more challenging; librarians and document restoration specialists recommend using other outside objects, such as weights, as a stand to boost books against to help keep their shape while drying. 
    • Place paper towels between covers:  Carefully place paper towels or dry rags between the covers of the books, allowing water to begin soaking onto the paper towel or rags. Remember, the interior pages of the book are still delicate, so be cautious not to damage them. 
    • Wait:  Leave your book and allow time to pass as the paper towels or rags begin to absorb the water. As needed (when your paper towels start getting soaked), replace them with new dry material. The ultimate goal is to allow the book to air dry with your extra materials until the book is no longer dripping with water or leaving puddles of water when you pick it up. 
    • Fill paper towels between every 20 pages:  At this stage, your book will still be moderately wet but not soaked anymore. Start by separating the inner pages and placing a paper towel every 20 to 30 pages; you will want to be cautious of the number of paper towels you place as the spine of the book can bend and deform in the drying process still, so if you start to see the book start to bend, remove paper towels until the spine is back its original position 
    • Lay the wet book on its side: Next, lay it on its side and allow gravity to naturally pull moisture from the pages to the dry paper towels. We also begin to replace paper towels as they become filled with water. Two helpful tips are to open a fan and allow air circulation to speed the drying process, and every time you replace the wet paper towels with dry ones, flip the book to its opposite side to help keep the book's original shape. 
    • Keep your book square during the drying process: While the books continue to dry use other objects like weights, or other bookends to keep your wet book straight preventing cardboard or paperback books from deforming. Eventually the paper towels within your book will become damp after being replaced instead of saturated with water, at this point move on to the next step. 
    • Place the book standing straight up: You should have a mostly damp book at this point. Go ahead and stand it back up, this should be much easier before, it might still be difficult to do with a paperback book but use the covers as a stand, you can still use another object to help prop your book up. Try and separate all the pages just a little bit to allow air circulation through all the pages. 
    • Set up a fan: To finish the drying process, allow a small fan to blow dry air through your book’s separated pages. Keep the air from the fan circulating for 24 hours or however long as needed until the book is completely dry. 
    • Finish things off by placing a heavy weight on the book: Even though you did your best not to deform the book, chances are it still looks a little bit deformed from the drying process, to help get that nice crisp book shape back lay the now dry book on its side. Place a heavy object that covers the entire book (think 5 to 10 pounds) on top of the book and allow gravity to compress the book back to its original shape. Then pat yourself on the back for a job well done. 

     How Long Does It Take to Dry a Wet Book? 

    The amount of time you spend on this project will depend entirely on how wet your book was. The Chicago Tribune advises that if your book was soaked with water, expect up to a week to fully dry. However, if your book just got a little damp, you could be finished in as little as 24 hours. Just remember, patience is your friend here. Do not rush the process; you can have your book in great condition even after major water damage

     SERVPRO is Here to Help® With Restoring Wet Books 

     At SERVPRO, we are the #1 choice in fire and water damage restoration*. We cover all aspects of restoring your property, making it as if the incident never even happened. If your home has been struck by water damage, even affecting your most cherished books, we are here to offer our document restoration services. We understand that life moves fast, so let us handle the entire process, from water damage repair to document restoration. With 2250 SERVPRO locations across the United States and Canada, we are always nearby, ready to provide 24-hour emergency services. Rest assured, we're here to make your life easier. 

    For more information, visit our FAQ and Specialty Cleaning Resources.  

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