Document Restoration and Recovery January 25, 2018 – Posted in: Blog

Whether the damage is done by water, mold, man-made errors or natural disaster, paper documents often need to be restored so the data they contain can be recovered. What are the steps involved in document restoration and recovery?

Document Restoration Process - Micrographic

Restoring Documents After Fire, Water or Mold Damage

Water damage, if left unchecked, can lead to mold damage almost anywhere. Fire damage often leads to water damage as well — particularly if fire crews used water to extinguish the fire — which can in turn lead to mold damage if not addressed quickly.

It’s important to determine the best restoration method as quickly as possible — you have roughly 24-48 hours to begin restoration before water damage can start to become too severe to recover.

First, it’s important to know how to dry wet documents. The best way to do this is actually to start by freezing them. This helps to slow the disintegration process of the paper and gives you a little more time to determine the best restoration process.

Process for Water Damaged Document Restoration

First, water damaged documents need to be dried, either by vacuum freezing the damaged paper or utilizing desiccant air drying techniques.

If there are contaminants present on the documents, such as mold, chemicals or other substances, the documents may require microbial disinfecting, deodorization, sanitizing or gamma ray irradiation to get rid of any health hazards.

Depending on the specific document restoration process required, water damaged document restoration can take anywhere from 3 to 10 days.

Process for Mold Damaged Document Restoration

Mold can grow on any damp surface as long as 4 factors are present:

  • Environmental temperature of 40-100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Relative humidity of 50% or higher
  • Mold spores
  • A food source

In the case of mold-damaged paper documents, the paper itself provides the nutrient base.

To counter and stop mold growth, the best course of action is often gamma ray irradiation. It kills mold at the molecular level, completely sterilizing the documents.

This will usually take between 3 and 16 hours for 2,000 sheets of paper, though the process may take longer if the documents need to be treated for water damage as well.

Process for Fire or Smoke Damaged Document Restoration

Fire damaged documents often experience the same problems presented by water and mold damaged paper, as water or chemicals are often used by firefighters. First, the documents will need to be deodorized to remove soot, chemicals and other microbial sources.

Thermal fogging is a technique used to remove the smoke odor from fire damaged documents. It recreates the smoke’s consistency, allowing it to penetrate any materials the smoke has and neutralize the lingering smoke odor.

Finally, soot removal and surface cleaning are necessary to restore the documents to a readable state. The full fire restoration process can take between 3 and 16 hours per 2,000 sheets.

Post Restoration

Once the documents have been restored to readability, the final step of the restoration process is to scan the documents to create digital backups. Not only does this prevent the documents from being damaged again, it can also allow the client to discard the restored documents if they are too damaged to return to normal circulation even after restoration.

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