Water damage can cause incredible damage to your home or business, but if your home has carpeting, the difficulties faced with proper water restoration may increase almost exponentially. Water has the nasty habit of getting pretty much everywhere, and that not only includes in your carpet, but also the padding and flooring beneath. Failure to properly treat any element may result in long term problems and far more severe damage.
In most cases, it is probably easier and more cost effective to simply throw out and replace water damaged carpeting, simply because the clean up process is so involved. If you do choose to try and salvage your carpet, the good news is that it is possible, provided the carpet has been soaked for less than 48 hours, and that the water in question is not sewage based. The trick is to get started as soon as possible.
Firstly, the water will need to be removed from the carpet. This is usually done through the use of a wet dry vacuum unit or pump, depending on the depth and severity of the spill. Most of the water will be able to be removed through this process, and doing so will make the carpet much lighter and easier to lift. Yes, I said lift.
The carpet will have to be taken up at the tacks and taken to an outside location where it can be spread out and left to dry. A patio or driveway is ideal for this purpose. Make sure the carpet is allowed to dry flat or it may not reinstall properly later on. High velocity fans and blowers can be placed around the carpet to speed the drying process along. It may take the better part of a couple of days for the carpet to dry completely. Discard and replace any water damaged carpet padding. It cannot be repaired or restored. An alternative is to place the carpet back down attached to the tack-strips once the pad has been removed. With air movement and dehumidification the carpet will dry very quickly as will the sub floor beneath the carpet.
Once the carpet is dried out completely (and the operative word is “completely”), it will need to be professionally cleaned, disinfected, and sanitized. When that process is completed, repeat it. It is of utmost importance that the carpet is completely dried out and thoroughly cleaned.
While the carpet is being tended to, the flooring should be similarly treated. Flooring will retain a significant amount of water, and the entire flooring surface should be totally dried out and professionally cleaned before the carpet is laid back down. Laying carpet on a wet or even a damp surface will only cause more problems, most notably the growth of mold. If the sub floor is made of wood, usually plywood, it will need to be dried out completely. If the affected sub floor is on the second floor you can usually dry the sub floor from both above (under the carpet pad that was just removed) and below (through the ceiling by injecting hot dry air or simply by dropping the ceiling) to speed up the drying process.
Mold grows anywhere there is sufficient moisture to support it. Mold damaged carpet is usually unsalvageable, and any mold in your home can be difficult to remove and dangerous to your health.
In most cases of water damage, particularly as it applies to your carpeting, you should call in professional help. Your local IICRC certified water restoration professional is available 24/7, with a staff of trained technicians, the latest in water damage tools and procedures, and offers a full range of water restoration services, including carpet drying and cleaning. They offer same day service in most cases, and can have a technician out to your property to assess the problem and begin the clean up process.