If a water pipe has broken in your home and has caused a flood, then it is in your best interest to call a professional to clean up your house. Professionals can remove water so that mold does not grow, and they can assess whether or not items need to be thrown away. Wooden furniture and decorations are typically not considered salvageable, because it can take a great deal of work to save items that have been damaged by water. It may not be worth the effort, unless you have an antique wooden dresser or table that you want to save. If you do, then follow the tips below to restore the item. 

Dry Out The Wood Slowly

Wood is a hygroscopic material. This means it gains and loses water based on the environment, and the wood will expand and contract as it is exposed to wet and dry conditions. When wood initially goes through the drying process, water leaves the vascular cellulose tissues that make up the tree. As these cells lose water, the volume or density of the tree decreases. The interior or core of the wood will typically retain some water though. 

If a wooden piece of furniture is exposed to standing water, the wood will absorb the fluid quickly. This can cause the wood to expand a great deal. In some cases, the rapid swelling will damage the wooden cellulose fibers and cause them to spread out. The fibers may not be able to return to their original shape, especially if water is removed quickly. Also, the core of the wood will retain water for a longer period of time than the outside of the wood. As the exterior shrinks, the core remains swollen. This causes the wood to appear wrinkled or bowed.

To reduce bowing, wrinkling, and other types of permanent damage, you will need to dry out the furniture slowly. If the antique piece of furniture is sitting in water, then move it to a dry area of the home as quickly as possible. Use a towel to blot the wood dry. The table will need consistent air circulation around the wood so that moisture can evaporate. To help circulate air, close the door to the room where the table is sitting and open one or several windows. Set a fan directly across from the windows. Do not point the fan at the antique. This will cause uneven drying, so aim it at the floor or ceiling. Check the table daily and place your hand gently on the wood. The wood will feel cold to the touch if it is still wet, so wait until the wood no longer feels cool before shutting off the fan.

Do Not Remove Drawers

Drawers will often swell just like the other parts of your antique furniture. The swelling can cause the drawers to become stuck in place, and pulling on them can cause damage. Many antiques are made with glued joints, and hide glue is one of the most common adhesives used to secure the joints together. The glue is extremely brittle and will break away at the joint if a good deal of pressure is applied. If joints break, then the edges of the drawer may dry crooked.

Do not try to remove drawers until the antique furniture item has dried. Afterwards, pull out the drawers and inspect them closely. If you see gaps along the joints or if joints are loose, then you can add new hide glue to them. You can purchase hide glue granules and flakes and make your own adhesive at home. The flakes will need to be mixed with water and then heated. Once the glue is ready, you can use steam to loosen the old glue. Use a paintbrush to add the new glue to the joint and place the drawer in a clamp to keep the wooden pieces from shifting. The glue will look like clear gelatin as it cures, and you can remove the clamp once the glue appears transparent. For more information, contact a business such as Spotless Carpet Cleaners & Janitorial Services Inc.