Course:4: Housing Your Collections
Lesson:Lesson 1: Assessing and Improving Your Building
Topic:Protection from Water


Protection from Water  

Historical records collections are highly susceptible to water damage. Mold growth is an additional danger if moist conditions are present.

The best steps to take against water damage are: 

  • Regular inspection of roof covering and flashings, with repair and/or replacement as needed.
  • Clean gutters and drains frequently.
  • Avoid storing collections underneath water or steam pipes, bathrooms, mechanical air-conditioning equipment, or other sources of water.
  • Keep materials at least 4" off the floor on shelves or pallets to avoid flood damage.

Avoid storing collections in basements or other areas vulnerable to flooding. If storage in such areas is necessary, you can install water-sensing alarms so that quick detection of flooding is assured. At a minimum, you must inspect the areas routinely and often.

Staff should familiarize themselves with the location and operation of water mains and shut-off valves so they can shut off the water supply during an emergency. These locations can be diagrammed and posted for quick reference. 

If your storage areas have pipes in them, click here for some more information about how to protect your records.

Boxes of waterlogged materials.
Avoid storing collections in damp or susceptible areas.

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Label the pipes in your storage areas (hot water, cold water, sewage) so if there is a leak, you know what is leaking out of the pipe!

Shutoff Valve 
Staff should know how and where to turn off water supply.