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Needing document restoration is a reality for both individuals and businesses. A fire or flooding from a tropical weather system in Tampa, FL, can damage documents that you thought were secure. Regardless of the cause, here’s what you can expect when you seek help regarding your document restoration process.

Document Drying

Moisture is one of the biggest risks to many of your important documents. Not only does this break down many types of paper, but it also weakens the bond between ink and paper. In addition, it creates an environment where biological contaminants can grow, further eroding your documents.

Before beginning any of the other aspects of restoration, your documents need thorough drying. The method of drying may depend on the level of moisture damage and whether it was water or another liquid. Commonly used drying techniques include desiccant air drying and vacuum freeze-drying.


Depending on the kind of damage your documents have sustained, you may need to go through a deodorizing process. This is especially important for fire damage where smoke infuses documents. Some chemical damage may also require deodorizing during restoration.

Thermal fogging is one of the most commonly used deodorization techniques. This replicates the smoke created during a fire. However, it neutralizes the smoke odor as it permeates the paper.


Once your documents have sustained water damage, they become a petri dish for bacteria and other contaminants. Not only do these pose a health risk to anyone who handles the documents, but there is also the possibility of further damage. To mitigate these risks, your documents should go through a thorough disinfecting process.

Gamma irradiation is the most widely used method for disinfecting documents. This is strong enough to kill most biological contaminants while avoiding further document damage. Chemical disinfectants risk further damage on already damaged media, even when expertly applied.

Physical Cleaning

On top of dealing with moisture, odors and harmful contaminants, your documents will also likely need physical cleaning. Physical cleaning removes surface contaminants, usually after your documents fully dry.

This particular type of cleaning is especially important for documents damaged during a fire, where soot is in play. Cleaning a document is a gentle process that doesn’t use water or solvents, both of which may cause more damage. Rather, the technique gently removes surface debris that may loosen during drying and disinfecting.

Restorable Media

You may initially consider paper documents you need to have restored, and rightly so. These important documents include deeds, registrations, vital records for your family and more. However, these are not the only types of media you may want restored after an accident or disaster.

Consider fine art you may have in your home or office. More importantly, there are all the digital documents you may have stored. These are all restorable if given to the right professionals.

Digital Backups

While physical restoration is always the best option, digital backups preserve documents in case physical restoration isn’t possible. During a restoration process, consider having digital backups made in case your documents become unusable.

Once you have this in place for any currently damaged documents, add digital backups as a standard process. When you take the digital backup, store the digital media both locally and in a cloud or off-site location.

The Time for Restoration

Time is of the essence when your vital documents sustain damage. Prevent further damage from occurring becomes your top priority. Get your documents into a cool and dry environment, and start running a dehumidifier if you have one.

You generally have 24 to 48 hours before the damage becomes too severe to recover. Once you’ve moved the documents to a safer environment, call to get the restoration process started. Both paper and ink continue eroding until you fully remove the moisture, so don’t wait to get started.

Don’t wait for your documents to be fully destroyed when damage occurs. Call our professionals at ServiceMaster 24 Hour for information about document restoration as part of your fire or water damage restoration project.

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