How To Approach Carpets Damage By Flood

Flood Damaged Carpets

As we watch the news and see images of devastating hurricane damage in Florida and Texas, the images of destruction are shocking and sad. Thousands of gallons of water have left behind dirt, debris and expensive damage. If your home experiences flooding, you will need to determine: (1) when to clean the damaged carpet, (2) how to restore it, or (3) whether to replace it. When the time comes, you could benefit from the 5 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. Throw rugs can often be saved with a cycle in the washing machine (but consider how fragile the material is.) Wall-to-wall carpeting, most large area rugs and any rug with foam backing should be discarded if flooded with contaminated water. Except for valuable rugs, the time and expense of professional cleaning generally are not worth the effort or the health risk.

Step 2 – Determine the “Flood” 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 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.

Water from toilets and other contaminated sources ruin your carpet for good. According to the University of Florida’s Disaster Handbook, you must assume that it contains dangerous microorganisms. Carpet saturated with  “black water,” such as sewage are definitely not salvageable and should be replaced at once.  If you are determined to salvage carpeting soaked with contaminated water, consult a professional cleaning company that services carpets at its own cleaning and drying facilities. A steam cleaning (hot-water extraction) methods may salvage lightly, recently contaminated materials.

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 might expect. Remember that most home insurance policies do not cover actual nature-caused flood damage; flood coverage is a separate policy.  Avoid investing in new carpets until you know what your insurance company is willing to do.

Step 4 – Treating a Small Carpet Area

Before you have decided to proceed with repairing or replacing your damaged carpet, keep in mind that most modern carpets contain nylon. Bleach will ruin the fibers to do an inconspicuous test swatch. Make a solution consisting of 1-gallon of clean water with 2-tablespoons of liquid bleach. If the test goes well, attack the room. 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.

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 windows closed when using a dehumidifier.) 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. According to the EPA, mold typically will begin to develop in between 12-36 hours.

Ask for help

When dealing with water damage, a prompt response is essential for mitigating damage, reducing your losses, protecting your health and restoring your property as quickly as possible. The longer water damage goes unchecked, the more the water will spread, the more damage is done, and the greater the potential for mold growth. According to, it is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth. If your problem is too large to handle quickly on your own, enlist qualified water damage experts. Based in Madison, Wisconsin, White Knight Carpet Rescue serves both residential and commercial customers. Call 608-665-1742 for a one hour or less response time.

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