Dealing with the aftermath of a flood, whether it’s a large-scale natural disaster or the simple case of an overflowing toilet or burst pipe, can be an absolute nightmare. Water can cause serious damage to all sorts of surfaces, from ceilings and walls to furniture and other belongings, but one of the most vulnerable targets is the floor. Wherever water damage occurs, you can bet that there is damp carpeting or soaked hardwood floors nearby. Luckily, there are cleaning methods that can be used to potentially salvage your floors, be they hardwood or wall-to-wall carpet. However, there are important differences when it comes to how each type of flooring should be handled during the water damage restoration process – and you shouldn’t wait until you’re in an emergency situation to learn the basics.
It may seem like your hardwood floors should be impervious to water damage, since wood is not absorbent like carpet. However, wood is an extremely porous material, and is therefore susceptible to staining, warping and buckling; similarly, the subflooring also has the potential to sustain serious damage. To begin the restoration process, your first step should be to remove all remaining moisture from your floors. Fans and dehumidifiers are excellent tools for this task, but if there is too much water for them to be effective, you may have to contact a professional water damage restoration company. They will have access to more sophisticated means of extracting water from the home. After the area is completely dry, inspect the wood. Is it stained? If so, you could attempt to sand and then refinish it, in order to restore it to its former luster. However, if the wood has begun to buckle, it’s an indication that the flooring has become unattached from the subflooring – and it may need to be replaced altogether. An expert’s opinion can help you determine whether or not your hardwood floors can be saved.
While squishy carpeting and the accompanying musty odors are unpleasant, to say the least, the real danger of water damaged carpet is the threat of mold growth. Mold can pose serious health risks, and in some cases may even be fatal. That’s why the first step in dealing with water damaged carpeting is to determine what kind of water caused the damage. If the water is clean and uncontaminated, you may attempt to repair your carpeting. However, if the water has been tainted by waste or sewage – also known as “black water” – you should not attempt to repair your carpet; instead, you will have to remove and replace both carpeting and padding. Even if the water that caused the damage was clean, replacement may be necessary if the carpet was saturated for a long period of time. Barring those possibilities, here’s how to go about cleaning your carpet: Begin by stopping the flow of water, if you haven’t already done so. Next, disinfect the affected area with a solution comprised of 2 tablespoons liquid bleach to one gallon of water. After scrubbing the carpet with this solution, you should then use fans to dry the area completely. If this tactic doesn’t work, consult a water damage restoration professional; they can help you determine whether or not your carpet needs to be replaced.