Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Guidelines for dealing with water-damaged property

Guidelines for dealing with water-damaged property

From: John Ketchum <quadra_950>
Date: Wednesday, January 11, 1995
    The National Institute for Conservation is monitoring the extensive
    flooding in California and its possible effect on cultural
    institutions. We would very much like to circulate on the Cons
    DistList the listing below prepared by NIC and the American
    Institute for Conservation (AIC) of ten tips for homeowners on how
    to treat water-damaged objects.  This information was initially
    distributed to the Midwest during the massive flooding in the summer
    of 1993.

    Washington, D.C.-The American Institute for Conservation of Historic
    and Artistic Works (AIC) and the National Institute for the
    Conservation of Cultural Property (NIC) have joined forces to
    provide information and advice on disaster response and recovery to
    those affected by severe flooding in the California.

    The following general recommendations are intended to provide
    homeowners with practical guidance in the recovery of their
    water-damaged belongings. These recommendations are intended as
    guidance only and neither AIC or NIC assume responsibility or
    liability for treatment of water-damaged objects.

    Ten Tips for the Homeowner:

        1.  If the object is still wet, rinse with clear water or a fine
            hose spray. Clean off dry silt and debris from your
            belongings with soft brushes or dab with damp cloths. Try
            not to grind debris into objects; overly energetic cleaning
            will cause scratching. Dry with a clean, soft cloth. Use
            plastic or rubber gloves for your own protection.

        2.  Air dry objects indoors if possible. Sunlight and heat may
            dry certain materials too quickly, causing splits, warpage,
            and buckling. If possible, remove contents from wet objects
            and furniture prior to drying. Storing damp items in sealed
            plastic bags will cause mold to develop. If objects are to
            be transported in plastic bags, keep bags open and air

        3.  The best way to inhibit the growth of mold and mildew is to
            reduce humidity. Increase air flow with fans, open windows,
            air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. Moderate light exposure
            (open shades, leave basement lights on) can also reduce mold
            and mildew.

        4.  Remove heavy deposits of mold growth from walls, baseboards,
            floors, and other household surfaces with commercially
            available disinfectants. Avoid the use of disinfectants on
            historic wallpapers. Follow manufacturers' instructions, but
            avoid splattering or contact with objects and wallpapers as
            disinfectants may damage objects.

        5.  If objects are broken or begin to fall apart, place all
            broken pieces, bits of veneer, and detached parts in clearly
            labeled, open containers. Do not attempt to repair objects
            until completely dry or, in the case of important materials,
            until you have consulted with a professional conservator.

        6.  Documents, books, photographs, and works of art on paper may
            be extremely fragile when wet; use caution when handling.
            Free the edges of prints and paper objects in mats and
            frames, if possible. These should be allowed to air dry.
            Rinse mud off wet photographs with clear water, but do not
            touch surfaces. Sodden books and papers should also be air
            dried or kept in a refrigerator or freezer until they can be
            treated by a professional conservator.

        7.  Textiles, leather, and other "organic" materials will also
            be severely affected by exposure to water and should be
            allowed to air dry. Shaped objects, such as garments or
            baskets, should be supported by gently padding with toweling
            or uninked, uncoated paper. Renew padding when it becomes
            saturated with water. Dry clean or launder textiles and
            carpets as you normally would.

        8.  Remove wet paintings from the frame, but not the stretcher.
            Air dry, face up, away from direct sunlight.

        9.  Furniture finishes and painting surfaces may develop a white
            haze or bloom from contact with water and humidity. These
            problems do not require immediate attention; consult a
            professional conservator for treatment.

        10. Rinse metal objects exposed to flood waters, mud, or silt
            with clear water and dry immediately with a clean, soft
            cloth. Allow heavy mud deposits on large metal objects, such
            as sculpture, to dry. Caked mud can be removed later.
            Consult a professional conservator for further treatment.

    As noted above, these guidelines are general in nature. It is
    strongly recommended that professional conservators be consulted as
    to the appropriate method of treatment for household objects.
    Professional conservators may be contacted through the FREE
    Conservation Services Referral System of the American Institute for
    Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), 1717 K Street, NW
    Suite 301, Washington, DC 20006; (202) 452-9545, fax: (202)
    452-9328. Based on a complete description of the artifact, a
    computer-generated list of conservators will be compiled and grouped
    geographically, by specialization and by type of service provided. A
    brochure, enclosed with the listing, will explain the referral
    system, provide information on how to select a conservator, and
    outline general business procedures.

    "What Is Conservation?" (fact sheet), Guidelines for Selecting a
    Conservator (brochure), Caring for Your Treasures: Books to Help You
    (bibliography), and Caring for Special Objects (brochure) are also
    available from AIC. "Emergency Preparedness and Response: Federal
    Aid for Cultural Institutions During an Emergency" (brochure) is
    available from NIC, 3299 K Street, NW, Suite 602, Washington, D.C.
    20007; (202) 625-1495, fax: (202) 625-1485, e-mail:
    John_Ketchum [at] nic1__imssys__com

    We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Federal Emergency
    Management Agency, The Getty Conservation Institute, the American
    Association of Museums, the American Library Association, the
    Institute of Museum Services, the National Park Service and the
    Society of American Archivists. For more information, contact the
    AIC or NIC.

Thank you in advance for your help.  I can be reached at (202) 625-1495
should you have any questions.


John Ketchum
Emergency Response Coordinator

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:54
                Distributed: Thursday, January 12, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-54-001
Received on Wednesday, 11 January, 1995

[Search all CoOL documents]