The Best Way to Dry a Flooded Carpet


The best news is that rescuing a flooded carpet is highly regarded as one of the messiest household jobs any decent home owner would have to brave through, especially if he or she owns property near a flood-prone area. As a matter of fact, drying out soaked carpets are ranked to be as troublesome as range-hood degreasing, squirrel eviction and rescuing the contents from a rotting refrigerator. One thing we do know though is that a thoroughly wet carpet will not go away on its own, even if the flood height is less than 2-inches in depth. Instead, if left ignored, a wet carpet can easily convert into a mildewed work of art seemingly overnight.

To Save or Not to Save?

Most carpeting experts agree that a wet carpet should be salvaged if it meets certain criteria. For one thing, flooded carpets must be treated within 48 hours of the incident and for another, the amount of wetting should be small enough that the dampness from the carpet can be air-dried away. Carpets that are relatively new (or rather, less than 10 years old) are very likely to be made from synthetic material, which is great as mould simply cannot feed off synthetic material unless a fair amount of organic matter has been accumulated in the carpet fibres.

Step One: Remove the Carpet

Regardless of your carpet type, the first thing you need to do when faced with a flooded carpet is to work fast. Leaving your carpet to soak overnight is more than sufficient to cause irreparable damage to the carpet, your room and your flooring so the very first thing you want to do is to work to remove the carpeting from your floor. To do this, all you really need to do is pull the carpet back and isolate the padding between the carpet and your floor.

A carpet installed directly onto concrete slab is usually pretty easy to remove simply by pinching one corner of the carpet with a pair of pliers. Generally, you would want to pull the carpet away from the direction of the tack strips to fully reveal the padding underneath. Do exercise extra caution when the tack strips are exposed, especially when there are children and household pets nearby as the pointed ends of the tacks are dangerous enough to cause serious body injury.

Step Two: Remove the Padding

The reason why you have to go through all the trouble of removing the water pad is simply because these materials soak up water, which means that your carpet will perpetually stay wet if the padding is not removed. This not only damages your carpet and encourages mould growth but will also ruin your particle board which expands due to water retention.

After you’ve removed the padding, you may then lay the carpeting flat on the floor again and then proceed to blast all moisture away from your carpet. In this case, it doesn’t really matter if you use a wet or dry vacuum. What does matter though is that if your carpet starts to look delaminated (i.e. its layers of carpeting are separating), it means that your carpet has become irreparably damaged and should be allowed to dry separately, preferably for 48 hours before reinstallation.

Step Three: Drying Your Carpet

If your carpeting has so far survived being soaked in water before being pulled out of its fixture, you may then proceed to continuously blast air at its surface area for several days. Ideally, large fans should be placed at a distance of about 14 feet in a linear angle across your carpeting. Instead of splurging on large fans you should only be unlucky enough to use once, you may also consider renting these fans for your carpet-drying purpose. At the bare minimum, you should at least rent two of these high velocity fans for carpet drying purposes.

At the same time, one should also procure a dehumidifier or turn on the air-conditioning to further absorb the excess moisture in the air. For maximum efficiency, place your dehumidifier in the center of the room. Alternatively, a rug shampoo machine would also be an ideal accessory in helping you extract as much moisture as possible in the shortest time. All you need to do would be to run the machine over the surface of your carpeting multiple times until all the moisture is completely absorbed. As a rule of thumb, you should spend about half an hour on a 5′ x 5′x area, and in this case, it is always better to be thorough and repetitive than to leave one patch of wetness left untreated.

If the weather outside is dry enough, you should also probably open the windows to allow your carpet to dry quicker.

Step Four: Reinstalling the Carpet

Once the padding is fully dry, you can then begin carpet installation by first positioning the padding over the tack strips, followed by the carpet. You may have to perform carpet stretching to fully install the carpet back into its original place as well, which is why most people also often tend to delegate the job to professional carpet cleaners. When in doubt, it is always best to revert to professionals as a half-dry carpeting could become a formidable health hazard.

Step Five: Post-Carpet Cleaning

It is a standard procedure for most carpet cleaning experts to complete the carpet drying process by applying biocide. These chemicals clean airborne spores floating around the room and virtually eliminate any possibility of mould growth. If you are cleaning the carpet on your own, you might want to use baking soda instead as this ingredient does well in drawing out moisture while also deodorizing your carpet enough to mask the musty odours often associated with wet carpeting.

Before you sprinkle on the baking soda, do ensure that your carpet is dry to touch. The baking soda should then be liberally applied over the entire of your carpet for about sixty minutes before it is then vacuumed up with a shop vac. Never use the regular vacuum for this exercise though as it can cause your baking soda to become damp. Once the carpet is properly dried up and installed, you should then proceed to check your walls for mould growth as well, just to be sure.

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