More than 51% of homes in the US have carpet and if they get wet from flood damage can become highly unsanitary. Although it is known that the stomach flu can live up to 4 weeks in an unclean carpet, the detrimental health effects of a water damaged carpet can last much longer.
Just as some germs are more harmful than others, there are some types of water damage that can be more serious that can manifest in carpet. Water can get to carpets for many reasons and manifest varying degrees of damage. Rain water through an open window or from a sink overflow will be less serious than water from a backed up sewer drain.
When any type of water damage manifest it is important to act quickly to avert the more significant damage that will occur if untreated. Water left to itself in carpeting will degrade to a state of increasing contamination
What to do if water is in your carpet
Any time unwanted water is introduced to carpet it is important to remove it as soon as possible. The sooner you remove the water from your carpeting the greater the chances are you will fully restore the materials. Only padding that is wet from a fresh water source should be considered for drying out as every other type of water will have contaminates. Contaminated carpet pad has a very high probability of smelling bad and developing mold and other microbial growths.
Fresh water removed from carpet
If a child spills a glass of water try placing an absorbent towel over the spot and pressing firmly till all the water is removed from the carpet. If the amount of water affects more than 20 sq. ft. it may be prudent to place a fan or rented air mover for several days to fully dry.
If ground water backs up through a drain, attempt to remove the standing water with a shop vac. Obviously if an area of more than 100 sq. ft. has become wet you may need to call a water restoration company to remove the water with professional extraction equipment.
The worst type of water that can affect your carpet is water from a sewer drain backup. Often drain systems will back up after a heavy rain and come into contact with carpets. When sewer water touches carpet it is no longer within the scope of being restored safely. This type of water damaged carpet is beyond the scope of restoration and must be completely removed from the property.
Sewer water has up to 81 viruses and e-coli bacteria which makes it pathogenic and human health is at risk. Even if you are able to dry the carpet the contamination level is so high that it will release harmful germs and endo-toxins.
What to do with water damaged pad
If your carpet has a pad to add to comfort when walked upon, that material is absorbent like a sponge. Naturally such materials are very absorbent and must be dried out quickly or moisture will be present for days. Placing a dry towel over wet areas and firmly pressing can remove some of the water trapped in pad. The amount of moisture left behind may need a fan or rented air mover from a hardware store to dry completely.
Never attempt to dry a wet carpet pad unless the water source was fresh. Any other type of water such as ground water or sewer water will quickly amplify its contamination. Carpet padding that has been saved after being wet from ground or sewer water will always be contaminated. Some have applied deodorizers to wet carpeted areas that smell, but this is an unsafe cover up of the existing germs and bacteria that can spread.
Only complete removal of all affected wet carpet pad is recommended to keep your home from becoming gullible to widespread germ contamination. Often the presence of water in a carpet cushion will reveal itself by creating a very noticeable pungent smell in as little as 3 days. Germs and microorganisms amplify quickly in wet pad making it risky to put off removal for any length of time.
Will it be possible to restore my carpet or will I need a professional
The answer is based upon the amount of water and the amount of contamination present in the water. For example, if the flood water is relatively clean being the result of a leaky water pipe and no greater than 100 sq. ft. chances are good.
However, if the water is contaminated having come from an overflowing toilet and has affected a room or more, than probably not. This water is abundantly contaminated which makes it difficult to manage without the skills and appropriate germ elimination techniques.
Flooding is remedied by quick removal of water and complete removal of germs. Often it is just a smart thing to contact the professionals as they are trained in water mitigation and can adhere to industry standards for remediation.
What do the professionals do to flood damaged carpet?
Each flood damage emergency is unique and the professionals will assess the multiple circumstances that contributed to the flooding. The source of the water, duration of time water has been present and materials wet often set the stage for the criteria for restoration.
The tool bag of a professional restoration company will be equipped with moisture detection instruments capable of locating hidden and trapped moisture. The naked eye is a poor substitute for ascertaining the presence of water and for that reason alone, a professional should be consulted. There is nothing to lose if you contact Action Extraction as we offer a free evaluation of your flooded property so you can determine for yourself, if the professional route is the best way to go.
The professional water restorer will also have truck-mount extraction units that are 20 times more powerful than a shop vac. The amount of water they can recover from wet carpet is much more than a do=it-yourself attempt. Once the water is removed from your carpet then the application of a germ killing agent will be placed on all wet surfaces. Action Extraction uses only plant based anti-microbial agents that are “green” and safe for the environment and humans.
Lastly the professional water mitigation company will place commercial grade air movers and dehumidifiers to rapidly dry all materials and remove excessive humidity. Even if your fully carpeted finished basement was wet throughout, the proper placement of structural drying equipment should have everything completely dried in no longer than 3 days.
It is always a good idea once water damaged carpet is dried to have them steam cleaned to remove grimes and dirt and remove any lingering smells.
Can the water damaged carpet be dried without lifting carpet or removing it?
For certain! If the space is less than a small area say approximately 30 sq. ft. a commercial air mover can dry the wet carpet without lifting. Even if your entire basement carpeting was under water, today’s technology makes it possible to save most carpets that have been water damaged without lifting. This type of wet carpet restoration known as “top down” drying is easily achieved when the appropriate number of air movers are strategically placed in concert with the right sized dehumidifier.
This technique does not apply to carpets that have been damaged by sewer water as this type of water is pathogenic and will be beyond the scope of a safe dry out. It is an unfortunate loss in money to have to purchase new carpeting, but given the human health risk, it may be much cheaper in the long run.
When should a professional flood restoration company be called upon?
If carpets are flooded due to a burst water pipe, washing machine, failed sump pump or sewer drain backup, these are the flood damage scenarios why the professionals exist. Water is a destructive energy that has the potential to compromise your homes integrity and bring the dreaded mold no one wants into existence.
Because Action Extraction has a no risk free evaluation, you have nothing to lose. If all we discover is a small section of wet carpet than you have very little water damage to manage and may choose to do it on your own. However if the water damaged carpet is far worse than you thought we can restore the property and even help with your insurance claim.
How long should it take to dry my water damaged carpet?
The art and science of drying building materials has reached a level of expertise that the prediction of time to dry is finely tuned and accurate. Never should a wet carpet take longer than 72 hours to be completely dried. If it takes longer than there must be a problem. Either there was a failure in the initial water removal, a failure in necessary equipment or an undetected issue.
An example of an undetected issue we often see in homes where an inexperienced professional has begun service, is with the padding. If the restorer fails to peel a corner section of the carpet back to expose the padding they may not discover that the pad may in fact have a plastic top cover. This impervious sheath will trap the water and keep it from drying and must be hand removed.
We have been called out multiple times to evaluate why after a week padding is still wet, even with a fan blowing on it. The answer is always the same; the pad has a plastic top layer the restorer never detected keeping the pad wet for days.