Saving flooded carpet
Can carpet be saved once it’s been sitting in water? The cleaner/restorers standard answer usually is “it depends”.
Often, saving or not saving flooded carpet is a company decision. Some companies replace all wet carpet. Others save a percentage.
No two companies will have the same rate of saving carpet.
Do you work in new developments or in older neighborhoods? Are the areas you work in 10 -15 years old and have replaced their old carpet with new?
Points to consider for flooded carpet:
1. What is the cost of the carpet and pad? Some carpet is so cheap it costs, almost, the same to replace than to dry it.
2. How old is the carpet and pad? The carpet backing and pad, in an older carpet, can have lots of food sources (bacteria and mold growth potential). Add water, and things could grow.
3. How clean is the house? If this house is poorly maintained, there could be food source in a newer carpet and backing that makes it as much of a contamination liability as “old” carpet and pad.
4. What is the condition of the water that came in? Category 1, 2 or 3? It’s in The Clean Trust S500.
5. How long has it been wet? What is the condition of the job now? After 12-14 hours, (just a guideline) we could have non-visible mold forming.
6. Was the carpet wet from a previous flood? Will you save the carpet? Do the safer thing. If you are debating whether the carpet should be replaced…it probably should.
7. Does the room have a chronic leak? For example, every time it rains, water drips down each side of the fireplace bricks, in the living room. Replacement might be considered, due to the potential moisture issues in that room. (What if the adjuster says, it was from a previous condition….I’m not paying for new carpet?) Don’t leave yourself liable!
8. Was the carpet pad improperly specified, such as the pad isn’t dense enough? The carpet flexes up and down, like a trampoline, every time someone walks down the hall. The carpet backing could be already, partially, delaminated (primary and secondary backing coming apart) before the flood. The flood simply finished the job. Speak to the materially interested parties (homeowner and adjuster) about replacement.
9. If an entire room is delaminating, it probably was a mill problem. A little tough to prove. Again, speak to the materially interested parties about replacement.
10. The newer the carpet and pad, the better the chances of saving it.
11. Carpet backings get 80 – 85% weaker when wet. Be careful about folding the carpet and stepping on the folds.
12. If floating a carpet, keep “flapping” to a minimum. It can weaken the backing.
13. Just because you removed pad, doesn’t mean carpet always should be floated. It can, sometimes, be laid flat and dried from the top, if the material under it is not a drying issue.
14. Edge delaminating can occur from pulling the carpet off the tack strip. A knee kicker is recommended to release the hold of the angled tack strip nails on the carpet.
15. Know where the seams are. Wet seam tape splits easily. Time will be required to repair. Time is money.
16. In-place drying “can” be less destructive to the carpet backing because the carpet will not be pulled up and re-installed. Category 1 conditions would be required.
17. Using heat to dry a carpet — not only does it fast, but can cure the latex a little more and leave the carpet stronger than before it got wet.
Dennis Klager is a Clean Trust (formerly IICRC)-approved instructor. He can be reached at [email protected].
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February 21, 2023