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Water-damaged Carpets

Peter Collins on drying water damaged carpets

THE restoration of water damaged carpet can often be a painstaking process and almost impossible if you are untrained in this area.
Synthetic carpets are usually easier to restore than natural ones, however both can fall victim to off-gassing and, if left wet for more than a few days, can develop fungus, mould and mildew. So, when tackling this type of work it is important to get started as soon as possible.
When you arrive on site the first task is to assess the situation. If the carpet can be saved, remove all the furniture and contents from the room, including the curtains. If these are also wet then prompt action needs to be taken. They will need to be sent straight to a dry cleaner who, using specialist cleaning techniques, will ensure that no water marks appear during the drying process.
Whether the furniture and contents are moved to your workshop, or simply stored in another part of the premises, ensure that the legs of the furniture do not make contact with the flooring. This is because damp furniture may cause staining. You will need to ensure that you are in possession of some carpet protectors.
On removal of all furniture and contents from the affected area you can low-pressure spray or fog the carpet if contaminated. When safe to do so you can then extract the water from the carpet; the use of a heavy roller can help in this process. Once this is done it can be carefully removed from the grippers.
If you are drying the carpet at the customer’s premises, remember to take the underlay out; failure to do so will result in longer drying times. The carpet can now be rolled up for removal, or left in situ for controlled dehumidifier and air mover drying; it very much depends on how contaminated the carpet is.
Removal is a better option, as the underlay has to be replaced anyway. When rolling up the carpet it is good practice to lay a roll of polythene over the face of the carpet, so that it is sandwiched (surface not touching surface). However, never leave this in place longer than is necessary. As soon as convenient unroll the carpet and start the drying procedure.
The subfloor and skirting boards will certainly be affected during flooding. However, today’s equipment for drying floors and structures performs very well and, depending upon the amount of water present, affected areas can be dried out in a matter of days or, as some manufacturers claim, within 24 hours. Place dehumidifiers and air movers around the room making sure that airflow is at a maximum.
If you are sure that the security of the building will not be compromised, and weather conditions permit, sometimes ‘open drying’ can have an advantage. You will need to leave as many doors and windows open as possible to create a through-flow of fresh air. Once the area is dry it is wise to clean and disinfect thoroughly before re-installation of the carpet.
Remember, your work as a restoration technician relies on detailed preparation, procedures and continual documentation of the work being undertaken. Failure to keep up to date with necessary paperwork could lead to a whole host of problems.
Peter Collins owned and ran a successful carpet and upholstery cleaning company in Surrey from 1997 until his retirement in 2013. He joined the NCCA in 1999 and was awarded the title of honorary member in 2013 for services to the NCCA and the entire industry.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at