Did you know that US homeowners are five times more likely to experience water damage than theft? In fact, water damage is so common that it’s seven times more common than fire claims.
So, it’s no wonder that water damage is the second most common type of homeowners insurance claim in the US. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the costliest, especially in homes with extensive carpeting.
In such cases, the greater the carpet water damage, the higher the repair or replacement costs. Moreover, these expenses can skyrocket quickly if you don’t address water-damaged carpets immediately.
To that end, we created this guide detailing what to do about carpets affected by water damage. Read on to discover the steps you must take to address and mitigate carpet destruction.
Turn Your Electrical Power Supply Off
Before you touch soaked carpets, check the area for any remaining floodwater first.
If there’s still visible water on your floor and carpets, shut off your main electrical supply. Please wear protective clothing, such as rubber boots, gloves, and goggles when you do so. This is a crucial step to prevent electrical injuries, such as shocks and burns.
Stop Controllable Sources of Water Damage
Many cases of carpet water damage in US homes are due to indoor flooding caused by severe weather. According to experts, at least 15 million homes in the nation are at risk of floodwater damage.
However, severe weather is only one unpreventable cause of flooding and water damage. Other causes, such as plumbing malfunctions, are preventable or controllable. These are the sources of water damage, mold, and mildew that you need to stop on their tracks.
Water Main Breaks and Burst Pipes
An example of a controllable cause is a water main break, which occurs every 120 seconds in the US. These damages waste approximately six billion gallons of treated water each day. Worse, the water that gushes out of the pipes can cause indoor flooding in buildings.
A burst pipe is similar to a water main break, except that the pipe itself can be inside your home. In this case, the water can gush straight out of the pipe and flood your home from there.
If you think you have a main break or a damaged pipe inside your home, turn off the main water supply valve right away. Then, call a local licensed plumber to repair or replace the defective component. Avoid switching on the supply valve until you’ve had the pipe fixed, as doing so will only cause more flooding.
Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs)
SSOs, estimated to occur at a rate of 23,000 to 75,000 cases a year, can also be preventable. That’s because SSOs can happen due to improper waste disposal, which forms clogs in sewers. These clogs are often a mix of kitchen refuse, like fats, oil, and grease, and flushed items, such as diapers.
SSOs usually cause flooding in basements, but the water can rise all the way to ground level. When that happens, they can result in costly water damages to floors and carpets.
Your first order of business should be to ring up a plumber to inspect, clean, or fix your drains and sewer lateral. Sewage is full of disease-causing germs, after all, so you need to stop more of it from backing up to your home. Avoid dealing with the mess yourself, as exposure to these pathogens can make you ill.
Call Your Homeowners’ Insurance Company
Remember: not all homeowners’ policies cover all types of water damage. Not all homeowners have insurance, either; about 6.8% of homes are without coverage.
If you do have coverage, it should cover a sudden or accidental cause of water damage. This often includes pipes that burst from inside your home. External sources, such as weather-related flooding, are often an exclusion, though.
In any case, make sure that you call your insurer as soon as you can following the water damage event. They can clarify your rights to filing a claim for your losses, including carpet damage.
Consider Hiring a Water Damage Restoration Expert
Once you’ve stopped the water source, consider scheduling a water damage restoration service. This is especially crucial if you have extensive carpet damage or the cause is a sewer overflow.
Such experts specialize in water damage restoration and mold remediation. They also provide emergency carpet cleaning, which can be your carpets’ saving grace.
Restoration experts use industry-grade equipment, such as powerful pumps to deal with floods. Their machines can pump out water from entire homes far quicker than regular vacuums. They even provide sewage extraction services for events like SSOs.
Moreover, most water damage remediation pros offer complete disinfection services. This helps prevent homes from becoming a breeding ground for germs.
So, by hiring a water damage repair company, you can reduce your health or safety risks. More than that, their 24/7 assistance can mitigate the water damage losses you may incur.
A water damage remediation company can also help you with your insurance claim. For example, they can correspond directly with your insurer, simplifying things for you.
Pump Out the Clean Water
Molds can grow on damp surfaces in just 24 to 48 hours. That’s why it’s crucial to dry your carpets as soon as possible; better if you don’t leave them wet overnight.
So long as you don’t have extensive water damage, you can remove moisture from your carpets with a wet/dry vacuum. You can also use a shop water vacuum, which has greater suction power than a regular vacuum.
After that, blot any residual moisture with dry blankets and paper towels. Be sure to run a dehumidifier and turn on a few fans to help the drying process.
If you don’t have these tools and want to DIY the carpet water damage repair, you can rent them out.
Inspect the Carpet Padding
If you dried your carpets before 48 hours, you might still be able to restore their padding. However, this only applies to carpets soaked by clean water, such as from a burst pipe.
If a large section of the padding remains saturated, you may already have to remove and replace it. That’s because padding materials are often hard to clean and dry thoroughly. So, that’s another reason to extract moisture out of your carpets within 24 to 48 hours of getting wet.
Don’t Forget to Check Your Subfloor
After checking your carpet padding, give your subfloor a closer inspection, too. Look for signs of any water damage or moisture on the floor. It’s only glistening but not soaked; make sure to clean and dry it before placing your carpets back on it.
If there’s floor water damage, get a contractor to inspect, fix, or replace the affected section. It’s imperative to have a completely dry floor before carpet reinstallation. Otherwise, the moisture from the floor will cause water and mold damage from under the carpet.
Clean and Disinfect the Carpets
Carpets installed with tack strips are removable, so if yours are, peel them off your floors. Then, have them undergo professional carpet cleaning and drying. You can then reinstall the carpets using new tack strips.
You can also give your carpets a DIY washing job using a shampoo designed for your carpet material. Make sure to follow the commercial product’s directions to a T to avoid damaging your carpets.
Another option is to concoct a homemade disinfecting solution using some bleach. You can use this on most types of carpets, except wool, which bleach can damage.
To make your homemade disinfectant, mix one gallon of water with 1/4 cup of regular household bleach. Spray or brush this lightly on your carpets, including their backing, but be sure not to soak the fabric. Let the solution sit on your carpets for at least 10 minutes before giving your carpets a final vacuum run.
Replace the padding and reinstall the carpets only after you’ve made sure the subfloor is 100% dry.
Remove Gray or Black Water-Saturated Carpets
Gray (grey) water refers to used water from bathroom sinks, bathtubs, or clothes washers. It contains low levels of contaminants that proper wastewater treatment can remove.
By contrast, black water is water that contains high levels of pathogens. These are disease-causing microorganisms introduced to the water by urine and fecal matter. For that reason, most sources of black water are bathrooms, especially toilets.
If either of the two completely saturates your carpets, you need to get rid of and dispose of them. It’s too dangerous to clean and reuse these damaged carpets. For the same reason, it’s best to have water damage professionals remove and haul them away for you.
Don’t Delay Addressing Any Form of Carpet Water Damage
Note that in the US, new carpet installation costs almost $1,700 on average. That’s a lot of money that you don’t want to go to waste because of carpet water damage.
So, as soon as you experience flooding that damages your carpets, get to work immediately. Dry your carpets or call an emergency water damage restoration expert right away.
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