A very unpleasant Monday!


CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Jul 2, 2004
Dana Point, California
The city is replacing a water line of some sort and in the process caused all the toilets in the building to overflow with raw sewage. This is what greeted me this morning when I opened shop.

No damage to any art or equipment. Just a partially flooded back room with damage to a couple cases of foamboard and a fully flooded chop room. No damage to equipment and only some scrap that was on floor was damaged.

My question. The restoration service that is cleaning this mess up will have to leave dehumidifiers and fans going for a few days to dry things out. Will this damage any work hanging in gallery or art waiting to be framed? Also what about matboard and moulding?

Thanks for any information anyone has.
High humidity is a problem for anything hygroscopic, such as paper, paperboards, and wood. You may find matboards severely warped, cockled or wrinkled; wood mouldings may warp, too.

Even for mats & mount boards that show no damage, it may be important for you to verify that their moisture content has returned to normal before closing them up in a frame. A few minutes in a ahot press would probably do the trick.

If I were you I would move out all of the hygroscopic materials possible -- especially customers' property.

You may have more of an insurance claim than you think.
It depends on how long the wet was there, and if it caused any rippling etc, as Jim says. You'll need to go through things carefully.

That being said, if things are caught quickly enough and the dehumidifiers and fans do their jobs in a timely fashion, you could be ok. To be absolutely sure things are dry (things can seem dry to touch, but still have too high a moisture content)you'll need to measure the ambient RH, as well as in corners, drawers etc. There are little gadgets for this, or you can get cobalt salt humidity indicator cards. Restoration Co should have them, and if not Archival Suppliers like Gaylords should, and charge it to insurance.

Good luck!

would a few hrs in the CA sun do anything useful for the mats/FC??? if they have the room to put the stuffoutside it would 1) dry it out 2)get it out of the way for cleanup 3)empty the area for fans to circulate better.......??
Reminds me of the day when the apartment upstairs had a toilet overflow .... directly over where our mats are stored. I came in that moring with 3/4 of my mats soaked with, not one would call, an aromatic entendre ...

As a side note, that day I learned how great an insurance agent I had. I called him immediately to have him come down and check it out ... he was here in 10 minutes, with a truck, and PERSONALLY loaded it all up and dumped it..... got my check (for about $7500) in a week. Now THAT'S service.