Water damage to carpets from flooding or leaks in a home is not uncommon. If you’ve owned a home for several years, you may have experienced it. You almost certainly will again in the future. When it happens, you’ll need to know when to clean the damaged carpet, how to restore it, and when to replace it. When the time comes, you could benefit from the repair steps you’ll find below.
Step 1 - Assess the Damage
Carpet that has been saturated in clean, sanitary water such as rainwater or tap water may be salvageable, depending on the type of carpet and how long it was wet. Water from toilets or other contaminated sources ruin your carpet for good. Carpet saturated with water considered to be “black,” such as groundwater or sewage, is definitely not salvageable and should be replaced at once.
Step 2 - Determine the Water Source
For water that came from a single occasion, such as an overflowing bathtub or toilet, you will typically not need to be concerned about a continual flow of water onto your carpet. You do not need to take any action to stop the flow. If, however, the water that soaked your carpet continues to flow, you will need to stop it before deciding what to do with your carpet. If the flow of water is from a broken pipe, you might need to call a plumber. If the water comes from sewage or groundwater, you may need the help of a contractor before you can begin cleaning or replacing your carpet.
Step 3 - Contact Your Insurance Agent
Armed with information about the extent of the damage to your carpet and the likely cause of the damage, contact your insurance company and determine with them what replacement help you can expect. Avoid investing in new carpets until you know what your insurance company is willing to do.
Step 4 - Treat a Small Carpet Area
If you have decided to proceed with repairing or replacing your damaged carpet and you have determined that the wet carpet needs to be disinfected, make a solution consisting of 1 gallon of clean water with 2 tablespoons of liquid bleach. If you have furniture sitting on the carpet, remove it so that your floor area is open. Use the solution to scrub the contaminated carpet. Use a box cutter or utility knife to cut through the carpet and padding around the contaminated area. Lift the carpet and remove the padding.
WARNING: Bleach is toxic when inhaled and stains clothing, so make sure the room has proper ventilation, then put on a respirator mask and old clothes before you start working.
Step 5 - Dry the Soiled Carpet
Place large fans in the area of the soiled carpet, directed so that they blow air directly on the soiled carpet. Let the fans blow for 36 hours, or until the carpet is dry. If you have a dehumidifier, turn it on. Keep foot traffic off the wet carpet while it is drying. After 12 hours of drying, if you don’t see a noticeable difference in the wet condition of the carpet, you should consider replacing it. Mold typically will begin to develop after this period of time.