Unfortunately, video tapes can be damaged in a variety of different ways, such as water damage. Water damage or exposure to video tapes is a fairly common type of tape damage.
Homes that have been flooded will often have the problem of water getting into their video tapes, sometimes the tapes having been submerged for a period of time. This can cause a variety of different issues including equipment damage if played before taking care of the water problem. The good news is that temporary exposure to water does not mean the end of your tape. Often times, data can still be extracted from the tape if caught quick enough. Older analog tapes generally will have a better survivability rate than the newer digital tapes such as Mini DV tapes.
If you’re tapes have been exposed to water or moisture, here are some things to keep in mind:
Do not attempt to play wet tapes in your VCR! Attempting to play wet or damp tapes can cause permanent damage to both the tape and your equipment. While these tapes can be rescued with proper handling and care, playing them prematurely can cause irreversible damage to your tape.
If you discover your tapes have been exposed to water or moisture, time is off the essence! Tapes are very resilient to brief exposure, but will soon deteriorate if left alone! It is best to tackle the problem immediately upon discovery, and to transfer the tapes to DVD or another digital format as soon as possible. We advise taking them to experienced video tape repair centers. However, if you plan to tackle the problem yourself make sure to act quickly. If the tapes have been exposed to water with known contaminants in the water, it is advised to submerge the tapes into distilled water to rinse the contaminants off of the tape. Only rinse in distilled water if the tapes are still wet, if they have dried already it’s best to not wet them again. Common water contaminants including sewage, chlorine, or salt.
To dry your tapes out after being exposed, do not use any method involving heat to dry them out such as hair dryers. Heat will cause the tape to warp, and in doing so will cause permanent damage. The most effective way to dry the tapes out is to take the reels of tape out of the cassette and place them in a cool location out of sunlight that has a constant air flow. A large fan placed in the room will help with air circulation. If you need assistance in taking your video tape apart, check out our video tape repair guide.
We have repaired many tapes that have been exposed to water damage. If you need assistance, please come visit one of our local stores and inquire about tape repair services.