I’ve always loved books since I was a kid. You can usually see me curled up in a corner reading a book. I have a vast collection of titles that I take pride in. I even have a small library in my apartment. It’s nothing much but I can easily spend hours and hours in there getting lost in a book.
So you can just imagine my horror when I came home from work the other day and the landlord told me that they were having water pipe problems. As luck would have it, the main problem came from the unit exactly above mine. When the landlord and I walked into my apartment to check if there was any water damage, we saw that the water from the leak had seeped in my ceiling and was dripping on my books.
The landlord contacted the in-house plumber to fix it immediately while I moved all my books to a safe and dry place quickly. Since I am a full-fledged book lover, I know what to do in situations like this to make sure that I save my books and not do more damage to them. Fortunately, the extent of the water damage is not so overwhelming since my books were only affected by clean water.
First, I assessed and evaluated the water damage, some of the books were 50% soaked while some had minimal damage. I placed high priority in saving the books which had more water damage than those which had the least water damage. I knew the right trick to save these books. I quickly got a box of zip lock bags from my kitchen drawer and placed one book inside each bag, and then I put it on the freezer. This is the fastest and most efficient way of treating water damaged books. The freezing process will stop the water from doing more damage and at the same time will hasten the drying time.
I also learned another trick from my librarian friend, that if the books are in the advanced stages of water damage, you can put in absorbent papers every 10-15 pages. This is called interleaving. But keep in mind that you must interleave in sections, because if you do all sections of the book at the same time, you might damage the binding. You can check the absorbent paper and change it every hour.
Next, I turned my attention to the other books which were not so damaged. I took my dehumidifier out and placed it in front of the books. I lined up my books side by side and opened them halfway. I also turned the books on the other side from time to time to even out the drying process. A dehumidifier is used to eliminate the presence of mold and mildew which would be very harmful for me since I have asthma. The molds will probably grow on the books after 24 hours of exposure to the water or humidity, hence, I acted really quick.
If the same case happens to you, expect that the wet and fully-damaged books will not be restored fully to their original state. The seepage of water will cause the book to increase in size by 20% due to the permanent swelling of the fibers.
This was really stressful for me, but I am glad that I had the right knowledge on how to save my favorite books, so today I can still enjoy reading them.