Wall-to-wall carpeting, area rugs, and regular carpets add an aesthetic appeal to any space. They tie together décor elements, transforming a space from a house to a home.
But since they’re on the floor, carpets may suffer water damage due to faulty plumbing, flooding, and other unforeseen problems. Unfortunately, a water-damaged carpet isn’t just an inconvenience — it can breed harmful molds and bacteria, exposing your household to health risks.
Proper carpet cleaning after water damage is the key to avoiding mold, mildew, and ultimately costly carpet replacement. Read on learn how to go about it.
How Does a Carpet Get Water Damage?
The most common reasons for a water-damaged carpet include:
- Clean water damage: This can come from rainwater flooding, malfunctioning home appliances, broken water lines, or even a spill you caused.
- Greywater damage: This is often water with moderate contaminants and may come from a dishwasher discharge pipe or a toilet overflow.
- Blackwater damage: A carpet damaged by black water is highly contaminated because black water is mostly a result of sewer backups.
Your carpet may also be damp or wet due to a gradual hidden leak constantly seeping under its surface. In such instances, you may not even notice it’s wet or damp right away. You will, however, notice a foul, musty smell emanating from the area if the leak continues.
How Do You Clean a Water-Damaged Carpet?
The process for cleaning a carpet wet from clean water is different from the process used with sewage water (black water). Here are the steps you can follow for each:
How to Extract Water from Carpet After Flooding by Clean Water
Can a flooded carpet be saved? Yes, but only if the right steps are followed immediately after you notice the issue. Time is of the essence in all water damage situations. Many carpet and restoration companies, like Carpet Tech can respond 24/7 if you have a flood emergency. Here are steps to cleaning wet carpet after flooding:
- Extract water from carpet: After removing all your furniture, assess the situation to determine the necessary action. If your carpet is completely soaked and there’s water covering it, you’ll need to remove the water immediately. While a pump or bucket can get this processes started, you will want to call in professional flood restoration
- Dry the carpet: After removing as much water as you can from the carpet, open the windows and turn on your overhead fans to promote air circulation and aid the drying process. Dehumidifiers can be rented or the flood restoration company you are using will place these strategically and makes several flood check visits to ensure the area is drying evenly and properly . possible, remove the carpet from the floor, as this helps slow down mold growth.
- Replace the padding: Although your carpet may be salvageable, water damage may cause significant damage to your carpet padding. Sometimes, drying it may not be an option. In this case, padding replacement is the best option.
- Be patient: The drying process might take up to three days — patience is vital.
Cleaning Your Carpet After a Sewage Overflow
Also known as sewer backups, sewage overflows may occur when you least expect them, causing sewer water to seep through your carpet. That puts your household at risk of gastrointestinal infections and other health issues. Your carpet will also begin to grow mold in about 24 hours, which makes immediate cleaning vital. Here are the steps to follow:
- Prioritize protection: Water from sewage overflow is contaminated and dangerous. Before you take any other steps, wear rubber gloves and boots, a facemask, and even protective eyewear to prevent direct contact with the sewer water.
- Evaluate damage: If your carpet is completely soaked, you may have to either replace it or have professional carpet cleaners with biohazard training do the job. But if it’s a small sewage overflow that has only affected a section of your carpet, you may be able to restore it.
- Get cleaning: The key to avoiding mold in wet carpet is immediate cleanup. Use a wet vacuum with the proper filtration system to remove as much sewage water as possible. If you don’t have one, old towels will suffice, and if you can, try to dry both sides of the carpet.
- Disinfect: When you’re confident you’ve dried out all sewer water from your carpet, generously spray it with a disinfectant and then thoroughly scrub it to remove dirt and bacteria.
- Drying: After thoroughly cleaning the affected area, open your windows, turn on your fans and industrial dehumidifiers to get air circulating. Alternatively, you may leave it outside to dry.
Carpet cleaning after water damage caused by a sewer backup is difficult and risky. The Center for Disease Control discourages individuals from cleaning other bodily fluids without proper protection. Having pros handle the job is always a better way to go.
Additional Carpet Cleaning and Drying Tips After Water Damage
Here are some more tips to speed up the cleaning and drying process:
- Clear away all your furniture from the carpet area.
- If your carpet is small, take it outside.
- If it’s cold, use a heater or a dehumidifier to dry it.
Will a Carpet Get Mold If It Gets Wet?
Unfortunately, yes. The tiny space between your carpet’s padding and the floor creates a dark, moist area perfect for mold to thrive. It digests the carbon on your carpet’s surface while spreading, consequently breaking down the material bit by bit. It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of mold in the home.
What’s more, mold doesn’t just damage your carpeting and flooring — it also triggers allergic reactions such as sneezing, wheezing, irritated eyes, and an itchy or running nose. If you’re extra-sensitive and have respiratory issues like asthma, inhaling mold from water-damaged carpets can trigger asthma attacks and shortness of breath. That’s why water extraction and proper drying is critical.
How Quickly Does Mold Grow in Carpets?
When water damage is caused by black water such as sewage, mold will begin growing in the carpet within 24 hours.
When the water damage is due to clean water, mold grows within 24 to 48 hours, depending on how wet the carpet. Since mold is invisible, here are some signs that your carpet is infested:
- Smell: A foul, musty wet smell is usually the first sign of mold growth.
- Respiratory problems: If you or anyone else in your household starts experiencing allergic symptoms and there’s a musty smell, mold is already growing in your carpet.
- Discoloration: Mold discolors your carpet’s surface as well as its padding
If you do suspect mold, its critical to get help from mold removal specialists.
Drying Carpets After Water Damage
Since mold thrives in dark, humid, or wet conditions, the key to avoiding it is through proper drying. After extracting as much water as possible, you can use the following to dry your carpet:
- Shop vacuum: These vacuums work like a regular vacuum cleaner but have a stronger suction and lift moisture trapped deep in your carpet fibers.
- Fan: If you have ceiling fans, turn them on to increase air circulation and speed up the drying process. If you don’t have these, angle your portable fan towards the floor. Note: there are fans designed specifically to dry carpets. They often blow large amounts of air and are pretty efficient in drying carpets after water damage. Flood damage restoration professionals have this specialized equipment and will strategically place it in your home to effectively and efficiently dry your flooring before it becomes permanently damaged.
- Dehumidifier: This is an electrical appliance that reduces and maintains optimal humidity in the air. If you have one, switch it on to help dry your carpet. You can even use the fan and the dehumidifier simultaneously to speed up drying.
- Heater: Warm air dries wet areas faster than cold air. So if you have a portable heater, it would be the best appliance to dry your water-damaged carpet. But if you don’t have one, use your HVAC system.
- Open windows: If you’re not in any hurry to dry your carpet and have none of the above appliances, open your windows to slowly air-dry the carpet and other wet surfaces.
- Towels: Towels also do a pretty good job of drying carpets after water damage. Cover the damp area with a dry towel to let it soak up the moisture, and press it down to speed up the process.
You can combine a fan, dehumidifier, and heater to speed up the drying process. The fan will promote airflow, the dehumidifier will absorb some of the moisture, and the heater will evaporate it.
How Long Does It Take to Extract Water from a Carpet?
There’s no short answer, since the time will vary as a factor of:
- How wet your carpet got after water exposure: Usually, flooded carpets take about three to five days to dry up, while partially wet carpets may take 12 to 24 hours.
- The carpet type: Woolen carpets take longer to dry than synthetics, Berber, and other types of carpets.
- The water extraction method: Drying your carpet using a professional heater fan is faster than using a regular fan.
Should a Carpet Be Replaced After Water Damage?
Whether or not to replace your water damaged carpet depends on:
How Much Water Got Into the Carpet
If you’re only dealing with a spill, you don’t need to replace your carpet, as you can always dry it easily using towels, fans, and other methods listed above. But if your carpet, its padding, the floor, and subflooring are completely soaked, it might be harder to dry, making replacement the ideal option.
How Long Water Sat on Your Carpet
As noted, mold starts to grow within 24 hours. If your carpet has been wet for a week, you’ll probably need to start shopping for a new one.
Water Damage Category
If your carpet is wet due to clean water, it contains little to no contaminants and can be cleaned, hence no need for replacement. But if it was damaged by black water such as sewage and is completely soaked, you should consider replacing it or calling in professionals.
Call In the Pros
Coming home to a water-drenched carpet, along with the water extraction and drying process, can be quite stressful. While you can always follow the steps above to dry your carpet yourself, calling in professional carpet cleaners like Carpet Tech is the way to go. We have specialized water extraction and carpet drying equipment and a team of highly experienced, courteous professionals who prioritize your comfort and will get the job done efficiently.
Contact Carpet Tech today for a quote on professional carpet cleaning.