How to Dry Wet Carpet
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Keeping your carpet clean is important, but keeping your floors dry is equally (if not more) essential. Carpet fibers that retain water are prone to harboring mold, mildew, and toxins – as well as foul odors that will make your home feel less than pleasant.
Up to 14,000 people in the US experience a water damage emergency every day. If you’ve recently come home to find a water-related sister, you’re not alone.
Whether you’re dealing with a flood or localized spill on your carpet, you’ll need to find the water source and stop the moisture spread immediately. Then, use the following tips to dry the wet carpet out and prevent mold growth and other expensive problems.
As always, it is smart to seek professional services and advice when dealing with any water damage in your home. Take quick steps to remediate some of the damage on your own, but also consider hiring a professional carpet cleaning service to ascertain the extent of the damage and ensure threats are removed.
Why Is Your Carpet Wet? How Do You Know?
Maybe you’re dealing with an obvious issue, like a flood or a pipe leak in your home. These emergencies are serious and require immediate attention, but at least you know the “why” part of the equation.
The most common causes of indoor carpet moisture are:
- Rain and snow that has made their way inside
- Home appliances that leak
- Plumbing problems or breaks
However, you don’t always immediately understand why your carpet is wet – or even notice that it is right away. Sometimes, a gradual (hidden) leak can seep moisture into the surface below the carpet, resulting in continual moisture that causes mold and other problems on your property.
We often have clients report the smell of their carpet before they report moisture. A foul odor will often emanate from an affected area that is left untreated with obvious or hidden wetness.
If you keep noticing a bad smell in one part of your house, and you’re not sure why, check your carpet (and the floorboards beneath it).
You also need to remember that if you clean up a big spill or dry out a flooded area, you don’t always know if the moisture is totally gone. Even the smallest amount of dampness can lead to problems later on. Keep up with your regular carpet cleaning, and if you notice a foul smell, allergy symptoms, or discoloration after a spill, you may have a moisture issue.
Step 1: Clear Away All of the Furniture on the Carpet
The first step in the drying process is simply emptying the affected space. Leaving furniture out can result in trapped moisture. Plus, you may end up needing to lift the carpet, so you’ll have to move all of the objects on the surface anyway.
The quicker you can get the furniture removed, the better – both for the sake of the furniture and the floors beneath. Ask a friend or family member to help you get the job done speedily.
Step 2: Extract the Moisture
Your second step is to tackle the moisture. Although you should likely talk to a professional about how to proceed, there are some do-it-yourself tips we can recommend.
First things first: determine where the water is coming from and how you can stop the spread. If it’s coming from a burst pipe, shut off your home’s water supply. If an appliance is leaking, remove the appliance and put it somewhere safe.
Then, get rid of as much water in the carpet as possible. You will likely need to use a submersible pump and/or shop vac if it’s a substantial amount of moisture. These can both be rented from a local hardware store for under $200.
If it’s a relatively small amount of water, you can attempt to soak up as much as possible with towels or even a mop. If the damage is extensive, your on-hand tools likely won’t cut it.
The thing to remember is that the more time the wet carpet sits, the harder it will be for you to dry everything. If you came back from being out of town to find a long-standing puddle in your living room, a few towels won’t suffice. The water damage could be days old, which means it has had the time to wreck extensive damage.
Why do you need to begin the drying process so quickly? Because mold and mildew spores can begin to grow (and spread) on a damp surface in as little as 24 hours. Time is crucial when it comes to cleaning and preventing toxins from seeping into your home.
Mold isn’t just smelly or unsightly – it’s dangerous. When left untreated in wet carpet, it can cause illness in your family members and compromise your home’s air quality. This is especially concerning if people in our home already have allergies or breathing difficulties.
Step 3: Get the Air Moving
Your next step is to place fans and dehumidifiers in the moist area. You’ve removed the water, but now it’s time to ensure all of it evaporates. Turn on all of your overhead fans to promote air circulation. Reposition standing fans as needed so every part of the floor is dried.
If you’re really only dealing with a small spill, you may be able to get away with your normal overhead fans and maybe a hairdryer. However, if you’re dealing with something relatively large scale, you’ll likely need to purchase, borrow or rent heavy-duty fans to really dry things out.
Even if you’re waiting to find bigger fans, start encouraging as much air movement in the area as possible. Open the windows and turn on whatever fans you have. The sooner you act, the better.
Step 4: Check the Subfloor
You might think you’ve taken care of the moisture, but you can’t see what’s happening beneath the carpet. Now is the time to go to the corner of your room and pry up the carpet. This shouldn’t be too difficult – just secure a firm grip on the fibers and pull carefully. You likely won’t cause any more damage than what is already there.
Take a peek at what is underneath. Is there still moisture? Standing water? Mold growth?
If the carpet padding is still wet after all of your efforts, there’s cause for concern. You can repeat your DIY efforts by soaking up water and using a shop vac. Do everything you can to ensure no water is left behind.
Step 5: Blow Air into the Padding
After you remove the water from the carpet quickly, you’re going to want to dry your carpet padding. Fortunately, you can do this without pulling up all of your carpeting – especially if the water damage is minimal.
Most professionals will recommend that you bring in a dehumidifier. This will pull the water out of the padding and help it dry. Keep one corner of the carpet lifted a bit to also direct some airflow under there using a fan. Continue promoting airflow throughout the entire room as much as possible.
In some cases, you may want to consider attaching a wet vacuum hose to your regular vacuum’s exhaust, then placing the hose under the carpet. This will cause hot air to go between the subfloor and carpet, creating a space for drying out.
Step 6: Have Patience
Lastly, our biggest word of advice to be patient. We know the panic you can feel when you realize your carpeting has been flooded, and although you must take action quickly, there’s also a waiting game.
Once you’ve removed the water and set up your drying procedure, leave the carpet alone for at least 10 hours. It will take a long time for the moisture to leave, and even if you think the room looks dry, there could still be lingering wetness that will lead to mold growth and foul odors.
There are many things that affect how long it will take for your carpet to dry:
- How did they get wet?
- How much moisture was there?
- How heavy-duty are your drying methods?
- Is the area well-ventilated?
- Was the subfloor soaked as well as the carpet?
However, if you have been patient and given your carpet at least 24 hours to dry, and it still seems damp, you will likely need to call in professionals. Otherwise, you run the risk of developing microbial growth, as well as encountering ripples and buckles on the floor.
Know When to Call in Help From the Carpet Pros
Speaking of professionals, there are some instances in which we do not recommend tackling moisture in your carpet on your own. For instance, when:
- Your entire carpet is completely soaked after a serious flood.
- The moisture seems to have crept into the walls and floor beyond the carpet.
- You don’t have access to the proper tools to completely dry the area.
If you feel overwhelmed by the water damage, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It’s often easier (and cheaper) to simply tackle the emergency the right way – with the help of professionals who do this all the time.
Hopefully, if you seek help immediately, you will be able to salvage some of your carpet, floor, and padding.
Check with your homeowners or renters insurance to learn what is covered. Most standard policies will cover water damage within the home if it is determined that it was caused suddenly from a source inside the house. Weather-related water damages, however, are a whole different matter and will vary from policy to policy.
Those are the basic steps when you need to take when you discover wet carpet in your house. The sooner you can take these measures to remove the moisture and dry things out, the safer your house will be – and the less you’ll spend on future repairs.
Of course, the best way to ensure that water damage is fully mitigated is to work with a team of master flooring experts.
At Floors by the Shore, we replaced compromised carpet pads, sanitize subfloors, and eradicate lingering moisture after floods, leaks, and other accidents. We also install brand-new carpeting at the highest industry standards.
Our installers are experienced and authorized to safely add new floors to your home. We’ve seen water damage a time or two (or a thousand), and we’ll act quickly to minimize the extent of the damage.
Have you experienced water damage on your floors? Give us a call at 732-280-1984. We’re happy to help with both carpet and hardwood floor repairs in New Jersey. You can also shoot us a message online. We look forward to helping sanitize and improve your family’s floors.