By Justin Gallagher
When there is a disaster that involves a business or residence, water is often part of either the cause or the immediate solution. Water that affects a building can also come in contact with documents that are either impossible to replace or would be extremely time-consuming to do so.
One solution to the problems that can happen with disasters indoors is lyophilization, which is perfect for many document restoration needs. Water also creates other hazards, such as contamination or mold and mildew growth. Lyophilization, or freeze-drying, as it is more commonly known, can stop any further damage from happening. Documents can come in a multitude of formats, from paper to more high-tech mediums such as film and related components, computer-related media, older audio and video tapes, and x-rays.
Paper items might include children’s artwork, magazines and books, recipes passed down from older generations, legal documents, records of patients, clients, or students, and manuscripts or research notes, among countless others.
Film and photos, as well as negatives, can also be affected by water. Electronic media, such as disks and media tapes, can become difficult to access when exposed to only slight increases in moisture, and water can pose even more problems.
X-rays are good candidates for lyophilization, particularly when they have been kept in envelopes and are in bulk. Single ones, or small batches, can be wiped dry, of course, and the envelopes replaced for each patient. For large collections, manually restoring these is a time-consuming task, and lyophilization can also restore the envelopes with the patient information still intact.
When water, rain, and snow, or even sewage, comes in contact with documents that you need for yourself, your family, or for your business’s operations, lyophilization can provide the results you need. This process is simple and is not new. It has been used for several decades in document recovery and restoration. The lyophilization process begins with gathering similar documents because a mixture of various types of materials cannot process evenly. Similar items are placed in the chamber and frozen. While being kept frozen, the temperature is then slightly elevated. As moisture seeps in droplets out of the things in the chamber, these drops of water are collected. This process, called sublimation, thoroughly removes all of the water, leaving the contents inside of the chamber dry.
When it comes to books, magazines, and records, items commonly found in libraries across America, becoming saturated with water, the Library of Congress, as well as the National Archives and Records Administration recommends lyophilization and sublimation to not only protect materials but also to obtain the best possible results. Distortion is minimized when sublimation is used, as opposed to simply allowing the moisture to evaporate naturally. Lyophilization also freeze-dries contaminants, rendering them dry and making them easier to remove from the item in question. Even heavily soiled materials and documents can be restored to usable condition again.
If you have experienced water damage and have important documents that need restoration, contact a document restoration company immediately. They have the equipment and techniques to restore your documents and photos back to new.