Sunday, March 10, 2013

How to dry out wet books

I woke Saturday morning to a sound thundering through the house: the sound of water flowing through the pipes at full blast. I stepped out of bed and directly into half an inch of water.

We've had basement flooding over the years, but the water has never accumulated to the point that it was Saturday morning, not since I had begun reacting to incoming flooding with active pumping. I ran into the downstairs bathroom and realized that the water was coming from there - but where? There was water dripping from the ceiling, but the leak didn't seem to be from above. I quickly discovered that the water inlet hose to the toilet was detached and blasting water full-force all over the place.  It took just a few seconds to shut off the valve, but immediately the problem of what to do with the water needed to be dealt with. Fortunately I always know where the pumps are, and set them up immediately to begin pumping the standing water down the nearest drains. I threw towels on the floor to begin absorbing the water that wasn't getting pumped. Then I stepped back to assess the damage.

I have always said that you could get a pretty decent education from the books in my bathroom. Dozens of books, magazines, comic books, plus numerous catalogs, mailings, and other assorted things that probably should have been thrown away long ago.

Many of them were now soaking wet.

When the hose detached - disassembled, really; the threaded fitting that holds the hose captive and directs it into the tank broke apart - the water sprayed everywhere, including onto the ceiling, and onto the rack that held my books and magazines. As soon as the immediate issues had been dealt with I began to sort through the books. Those that were completely dry - and there were many of these - were put into a Rubbermaid tote to be dealt with later. Those that were wet and worth salvaging - all the books and comic books and some of the magazines - were piled up to be dealt with quickly. Those that could be discarded, old magazines with no historical value, were bagged for recycling.

I got some drying racks and spread as many of the magazines and comic books as could fit over them, taking them down as they dried and replacing them with others. I grabbed the soaked books - a paperback of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (one of my least favorite recent reads) and an Irish-bought hardcover compendium of the complete Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, among others, and...did something that probably damaged them worse than they already were. Something I would not have done if I had followed these links first:

University of Delaware Library - How to Dry a Wet Book

How to Salvage Wet Books - University of Michigan

How to Dry a Wet Book |

How To - How to Dry Wet Books in 7 Steps

How to Repair a Wet Book: 9 steps - wikiHow

There are other useful links out there, but they all have the same basic instructions, mostly. Essentially, what I should have done is stand the books upright on an absorbent base with absorbent papers tucked in the front and back covers and let gravity do the work. I'm hoping it's not too late to do that.

A side note: A lot of the water was absorbed by crap that I should have thrown away long ago. If I had, if it hadn't been there, then a lot more good books and magazines would have been damaged. As it is, I can just take my waterlogged seed catalogs from three years ago and Quality Paperback Book Club mailings from last year and toss them out.

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