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Subject: Tips for Water Damage to Family Heirlooms

Tips for Water Damage to Family Heirlooms

From: John Ketchum <john_ketchum>
Date: Thursday, May 11, 1995
    **** Moderator's comments:   This document, as well as quite a
    lot of disaster-related information, is available in the new
    disaster page of the Web facet of Conservation OnLine (CoOL).
    Use a WWW client such as Mosaic, Netscape, or Lynx to connect to

Tips for Water Damage to Family Heirlooms and Other Valuables

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) offer the following general
recommendations for homeowners who might have had family heirlooms
and other valuables damaged by the recent severe storms in the
Southeastern United States.  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 circulating.

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

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

For more information, contact AIC or NIC.

    Jennifer Middleton
    Fax: 202-452-9328

    John Ketchum
    Fax: 202-625-1485

John Ketchum

                  Conservation DistList Instance 8:91
                   Distributed: Sunday, May 14, 1995
                        Message Id: cdl-8-91-008
Received on Thursday, 11 May, 1995

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