How to Dry a Wet Carpet?
The best way to dry a wet carpet is to get fresh air circulating over, under, and through it. For a small patch of wet carpet, this might be as simple as opening doors and windows and airing the room after mopping up water with a towel. In the event of more significant flooding, you’ll need to bring out the big guns, floor vacs can suck up excess water before fans, dehumidifiers and even industrial space heaters dry out your carpet completely.
Last Updated: May 23, 2023, by: Rob Parsell
In this edition of Ask the Home Flooring Pros we tackle the daunting question of how to dry wet carpet after a water damage event, whether it be an appliance malfunction, burst pipe or external flooding. Although the sight of saturated wet carpet can be overwhelming there are steps you can take to rescue the situation.
When you come home and find wet carpets, the most important thing to do is to react quickly to fix the problem. Getting the water out of your carpets as fast as possible can help prevent further damage to furniture, subflooring and walls, as well as prevent the growth of dangerous mold. Prompt water extraction and removal is key to the health of your home and family.
Here are the steps you need to take:
STEP 1: STOP ANY FURTHER WATER DAMAGE
Locate the source of the water leak (if that is the cause of your wet carpet) and turn it off if possible. If, for some reason, you can’t, get a professional to help as soon as possible. Emergency call out costs are high but will save you money in the long term.
STEP 2: CLEAR THE AFFECTED ROOM
Remove any furniture or household items from the wet areas. Getting furniture out of the way makes it easier to deal with wet carpeting, and it also prevents further damage to both the furniture and to the carpeting.
STEP 3: EXTRACT EXCESS WATER
If the wet area is small, you can start by using towels to absorb the water. Put it over the area and walk over the towel. Wring out or replace the towel as necessary.
If it’s a larger wet area, such as in a basement, a wet vacuum or or more powerful water extraction vacuums can be rented, from big box or local hardware stores, and will help get most of the water out.
Time is of the essence in these situations because mold and mildew spores can grow on surfaces that are left damp for more than 24 hours.
STEP 4: DRY OUT CARPET, CARPET PADDING AND SUBFLOOR
Now that you’ve extracted most of the water, use large commercial fans and dehumidifiers to help with evaporating the remaining water. Encourage as much air circulation as possible by opening all doors and windows and turning on any fans you may already have. The drying process can take between 24 – 48 hours if the carpet padding has gotten wet but not soaked, so be patient. Commercial sized fans and space heaters can also be used for especially wet carpet.
Diatomaceous earth, which is also referred to as cat sand, can be applied generously to carpeting in order to aid water extraction. This substance, which is natural and non-toxic to humans and pets, will absorb much of the water. Once you lay a liberal amount of it down, you can use a rake or a large broom to move it around until the area is no longer wet. Diatomaceous earth can be swept up, dried, and used again as long as there is no other debris in it.
To help inhibit mold growth, you can sprinkle the laundry additive borax over the carpet. This substance is also natural and tends to be gentle on most carpets.
STEP 5: CHECK AND CONFIRM EVERYTHING IS DRY
Here’s the test to see if your carpet is dry. If you hear a sloshing sound or feel wetness or squishiness under your feet, then there is still water present beneath the carpet in the padding, or possibly the subfloor. Both of these can cause damage and mold when left untreated. You can also lift up carpet at the corner of an affected room to see if the padding or subfloor are still damp.
If in a small area, you can lift the corner of the carpet and use fans to dry the padding and sub flooring. If the soaking is extensive, then the carpeting and padding must be removed to either dry or to be completely replaced.
WATER DAMAGE RESTORATION SERVICES – WHEN TO CALL IN THE PROFESSIONALS
In many cases where your carpets have been completely soaked (in the case of extensive flooding) the best course of action is to call in the professionals instead of doing it yourself. Many homeowners’ insurance policies will cover such a service depending on how your carpet got wet in the first place. A homeowner’s policy may cover the price of the service and the cost of replacing the carpet, padding or baseboards if necessary.
A company specializing in water removal and water damage restoration will know exactly how to dry a wet carpet, as well as floors, walls and other areas, safely and prevent any future mold growth. Before making a choice of who to go with, be sure to check to see if their service is guaranteed to dry the carpet, padding and floors. It’s a good sign if they are bonded, affiliated with any professional organizations in their industry, have testimonials on their website, or will offer references.
Remember, wet carpets left untreated will lead to mold growth! For the safety of your home and family, dry wet carpet as soon as possible.
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About the Author: Rob Parsell
Rob joined the Home Flooring Pros team in 2014 and is a freelance writer, specializing in flooring, remodeling and HVAC systems (read more).
“I’m the son of an interior designer and picked up an eye for design as a result. I started hanging wallpaper and painting at 14 and learned enough on the job to be the general contractor on two homes we built for our family and did much of the finish plumbing, electrical, painting, and trim work myself.”