Whether your washer leaks or the basement floods, water damage can cause a lot of problems in both residential homes and commercial buildings. While water damage is bad no matter what the source is, a natural disaster – like Hurricane Harvey – can cause even bigger problems. If your personal documents at home were ruined or your business is now staring at mountains of soggy papers, you may be wondering what to do with those papers. You may ask yourself if it’s possible to recycle or shred wet paper. Once a paper experiences water damage, you, unfortunately, may have no choice but to recycle it.
What to do if your documents were damaged by water?
Regardless of what you choose to do with your papers (salvage, shred, or recycle), it is important to act quickly to prevent mold and mildew growth.
- Assess the situation: What documents were affected? If the documents were soaked to the point of being unidentifiable, try to make a list of papers you know are affected. This will help greatly if you need to request replacement documents. Additionally, decide if any papers are salvageable.
- Discard boxes: If your documents were stored in cardboard boxes, carefully remove the papers and destroy the boxes. Even if you dry the cardboard boxes, they are not safe to reuse. A word of caution when lifting boxes: the bottom of wet boxes tend to disintegrate and give way easily. It’s best to remove the papers before attempting to lift the box.
- Dry your documents papers: It might seem pointless to dry a document that you intend on shredding, but this an important step for two reasons. First and most importantly, drying your documents (along with any wet possessions) helps stop the growth of mildew and mold. If you were evacuated and returned home, it’s not unlikely to find mildew starting to grow. Second, soggy papers can begin to disintegrate and form a ball, clogging the shredder. Dry papers are much easier to shred.
How do I dry my papers?
Drying your papers and removing water from your home can be done. The key is to lower the humidity levels and have constant air movement such as open windows and oscillating fans. Do not attempt to dry stacks of papers; rather, lay out each individual paper on a clean, dry surface. Flip the papers over as necessary to ensure that both sides are drying.
Why should I shred papers that are partially illegible?
Even if you cannot read an entire document, sensitive information may still be legible. For that reason, shredding is a secure way to make sure all of your personal information is kept private. Additionally, if your business was flooded, you may have documents that you are not legally allowed to toss in the garbage; some types of documents, like healthcare records, must always be shredded. Tristar will always issue a Certificate of Destruction as proof that you have complied with any legal obligations to destroy records.
Do I have to remove the fasteners?
Unlike small office shredders, Tristar shredders can easily tackle staples and binder clips which saves you time from removing those items from piles of wet documents.
If you have documents damaged by flood waters, contact us for a free quote.