A leaky pipe or a major weather event can leave a household carpet completely waterlogged. The damage is often catastrophic, but too many people give up on their carpet without a fight.
Need to know how to save a waterlogged carpet? We have the answers. If you take action quickly and decisively, you might be able to save your drenched carpeting from the scrapheap.
Identifying the problem
This might seem like a strange point. After all, a waterlogged carpet is pretty easy to identify, right? Well, that’s not always the case. If the carpet is hidden from view, or if the damp is locked underneath, you may not notice the problem until it’s too late.
If you live in a home that’s prone to leaks or floods, it’s a good idea to check your carpet for dampness every week. The first sign is often a bad odour. A musty smell could indicate the presence of damp — and possibly mould.
Other signs to look out for include discolouration, warping and a sudden increase in allergies. Left untreated, and your waterlogged carpet could seriously affect the health of everyone in your home.
The most important thing you can do is to take immediate action. If the carpet is warped and distorted, you should probably discard it. But if you catch the problem quickly enough, you might be able to save it.
How to dry a wet carpet
Remove the source
You have to stop the source of the moisture before you can start to save your carpet. Otherwise, the same problem will return very quickly. Identify where the water is coming from. Is there a leaking pipe somewhere nearby? Is there a broken window or door frame? Is the water coming from the ceiling. Stop the supply of water, and you can stop any further damage to your carpet.
Check your furniture
If your carpet is waterlogged, there’s a good chance that items of furniture in the area are also affected. Pay particular attention to wood and upholstery. If they are damp, it won’t be long before mould starts to grow. And if you reintroduce these items of furniture into your room after saving your carpet, all your efforts could end up being for nothing.
Ventilate the room
Mould loves damp, stagnant air. But if you get the air flowing in the room, you might be able to stop mould growth before it gets going. The easiest thing to do is to open all the windows and doors. It’s also a good idea to place a few fans in the area. If the dampness is severe, you might need to introduce a dehumidifier.
Lift the carpet
A waterlogged carpet can’t simply be dried out from the top down. The moisture that persists underneath will slowly eat away at both the carpet and the underlay. There’s also a chance of hidden mould growth — with all the health consequences that entails.
Lift the carpet up, and you’ll probably find that the underlay is sodden. You won’t be able to save this padding. Lift it all up, and throw it away responsibly.
You now have to give the floor beneath time to dry out. Keep the ventilation, fans and dehumidifiers going. You’ll have to move the waterlogged carpet out of the room — to give it and the floor time and space to dry out. Ideally, a carpet is best dried outside in the fresh air.
Once you’re happy that the floor is dry, fit a new layer of underlay.
Steam clean the carpet
Assuming your carpet isn’t warped or stretched in any way, re-lay it on the new underlay. Once it’s back in place, you’ll need to clean it. And the best way to do that is with the power of steam.
You can call in professional carpet cleaners, but this course of action is expensive. If you have a standard steam cleaner, however, you should be able to do it yourself. All you need is a carpet attachment.
Before you do anything, give the entire carpet a thorough vacuuming.
Approach steam cleaning in the same way you would vacuuming. Move along your carpet in straight lines, slowly moving towards the door through which you’ll eventually exit. You don’t need any chemicals, but you might need to treat individual stains with your preferred removal agent first.
Steam is perfect for carpets because it kills the vast majority of bacteria and mould spores. And it cuts through dirt and grease without the need for carpet shampoos or harsh stain removal agents.
Remove residual moisture and odours
Your carpet will still be holding holding quite a lot of moisture at this stage. It might not be fully dry from the initial event, and you’ve just introduced more moisture through steaming.
Again, open all the doors and windows, and turn on your fans. The best way for carpets to dry is naturally with lots of fresh air. But to help things on a little, sprinkle baking soda over the entire carpet. Leave the powder there for three to four hours. A layer of baking soda will soak up both moisture and odours.
Vacuum the entire carpet again —until you’re confident that no baking powder remains. If the carpet is still discoloured, repeat the steaming process. And for a few days after cleaning, keep your doors and windows open as much as possible. Getting the air moving is very important at this stage.
Clean the other affected surfaces
The average carpet comes into contact with a range of different surfaces. The doors, frames, skirting, walls and floors in the room may also be damp. Make sure you dry these areas before re-laying your carpet. And thoroughly clean and sanitise all the affected surfaces to ensure mould and bacteria are removed.
You might be able to save your carpet, even if it’s completely waterlogged — as long as it hasn’t become distorted in any way. Even then, a carpet specialist might be able to “stretch” it into something close to its original state.
Act swiftly and decisively after a floor or leak, and you might just be able to save your carpet from a premature end.