First Aid For Flooded Carpets
There are many, many ways that water gets on carpets. In some cases, the amount of water is only trivial and comes in the form of a glass of water getting knocked over, which is quickly dealt with. At other times, a more serious amount of water can flood carpets, to the extent that it could damage them. Here’s a few ways that carpets can get flooded by larger amounts of water:
- A nearby river or stream bursts its banks after heavy rains and decides that the best place to flow is through your house. There are a lot of things you can save from water damage if you see potential flood problems looming, but a fixed carpet won’t be one of them.
- You didn’t see that leaf blocking the plughole in the laundry sink, so when the washing machine pumped out the dirty water, the sink overflowed… and the end result managed to spread into the carpeted areas.
- You didn’t realise that the roof leaked until the first big downpour of the season happened.
- You started running the taps to fill the sink to wash a load of dishes by hand or to wash your hair or something along those lines, but while you were just nipping through quickly for a few seconds, a family member just had to show you a fabulous YouTube clip… and you forgot about the taps running until the sink overflowed (this happens more often than you think).
- Your children decided to have a water balloon fight indoors.
- A pipe decided to give up the ghost and burst all over the place in some place you didn’t realise pipes went.
If you want to save your carpet and possibly your floor as well, you’re going to have to take some very prompt action. In the absolute worst case, you may need to replace the carpet (hope your insurance was up to date) but it doesn’t always have to be that much of a nuisance. It is possible to repair flood damage to carpets in your home.
Why Carpets Shouldn’t Be Wet
Carpets and large amounts of water do not mix, which is why we don’t have carpets in our kitchens and bathrooms unless we’re stark raving loony. It’s not just the bits of carpet that you see that causes the problem; it’s the backing. In a lot of cases, carpets are made with natural jute backings, which is a good thing. However, jute absorbs like a sponge, and if you don’t act quickly, it will soak in all that water and not give it up in a hurry. This is why if even small amounts of water get on the carpet, it’s important to deal with it as soon as possible. In the case of a spilled glass, quick action with a towel is usually enough to do the job. However, with more serious flooding, the jute is likely to have absorbed a lot of the water.
The problem with the backing getting wet is that you then have a situation involving water, warmth and a food source in the form of whatever dirt is trapped down deep in your carpets. This makes the perfect home for mould and mildew to develop. Needless to say, once mould and mildew take hold, they move on from the dirt in the carpets to the carpet itself, starting with the jute backing. It will then move to the rest of the carpet beyond the area of the original stain, then into things like wooden floorboards. Not good at all. As well as doing damage to your home, wet carpet also smells bad and provides a home for bacteria that affects your health – and those mould spores won’t be doing you any good either.
What Can You Do About Flooded Carpets?
You’ll have to act quickly to stop irreversible damage happening to your carpets or your home. I’m going to describe what you need to do taking the situation of an overflowing sink, which is the scenario that’s happened to me most often (I swear to you that it wasn’t because of YouTube distractions – honestly!).
Stop any more water coming onto the carpet. This means that you pull the plug and/or unblock the drain. In the case of leaky roofs and burst pipes, do what you can to catch the water in buckets and big saucepans or whatever you’ve got handy. Not much that you can do about the natural disaster type of flood, I’m afraid.
Remove as much water as you can. If you’ve got a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, then get it to work over the affected areas of the carpet. You will need to do this several times, emptying the reservoir or canister of the vacuum as often as you need to. Keep going until you can’t get any more out. If you haven’t got a wet and dry vacuum cleaner, grab as many towels and bath mats and the like from around the house and use these to soak up as much water as you can. Cotton of the sort that they use to make towels is about as absorbent as jute, so if you act quickly, then you’ll be able to soak up quite a bit of the water. You will probably go through quite a few towels this way and soak them completely. Have someone handy to take the saturated towels away to a wet area of the house so they don’t spread water further. Blot down hard to grab as much water as possible from deeper down and keep blotting. Don’t forget to move heavy furniture out of the way if the water has managed to get under there.
Dry and dehumidify. Get warm air moving through the affected room as much as possible. This may mean fans as well as turning the heating up. At the very least, open windows and let the sunshine in as much as possible (weather permitting, of course!). Keep those fans running even if the carpet feels touch-dry. You want lots of evaporation going on. At the same time, run a dehumidifier to slurp the evaporated moisture out of the air so that it doesn’t condense on windows or start providing a happy home for mould elsewhere in your home.
Call in a carpet cleaning specialist. It might seem counterintuitive (the fancy polite way of saying “totally nuts”) to call in a service that will probably apply more water to your carpets but bear with me a while. For one thing, that flooding will have brought a lot of dirt to the surface of your carpets and it will look foul, especially as the water probably already had a bit of dirt in it from what was in the washing machine. This will require proper cleaning to remove. The professional carpet cleaner will also have a very powerful truck-mounted vacuum so he or she will be able to get more moisture out of that carpet. The temperatures involved in steam cleaning will also deal to any mould that has started trying to establish itself. You don’t have to get the whole carpet steam-cleaned – unless you want to take the chance to get all your carpets deep cleaned. But a good carpet care company will be more than happy to just pay attention to one part of the carpet. Don’t forget to tell them about what’s happened when you contact the company. Once the carpet cleaning professional has been in, then make sure that you follow instructions regarding ventilation and not going all over the carpet for as long as possible.
Your carpet care expert will also be able to tell you if the carpet is too badly damaged to salvage so you can put in an insurance claim after the natural disaster type of flood. Here’s hoping it won’t come to that and you get to enjoy your carpets for as long as possible.