I’m sure anyone who has read this blog for a while now has figured out that I like to share what I learn, to the best of my understanding and ability. I also try to mitigate my pedagogical urges with things that have entertainment value. Even if the only amusement is how bombastic a person can get in their opposition to organized religion.
So anyway, here follows a (hopefully) entertaining summary of what I learned about water in basements (specifically, rain-water seepage…one of the most innocuous forms of basement flooding that exists).
1) If your carpet is damp, then your carpet pad is wet. If your carpet is wet, then your carpet pad is SOAKED.
2) If your carpet pad is wet, you have one main enemy: Microbes. Microbes and Time…OK, TWO main enemies.
3) Your third main enemy is denial.
A little more on denial and it being your enemy. You know how in zombie and vampire movies there is always at least one member of the little band of survivors that gets bitten, but everyone tries to pretend that it’ll be alright, even though it’s a foregone conclusion that it’s only a matter of time before they “turn” and start trying to eat/kill their compatriots? There’s always one person who says “He’s already dead...he just doesn’t know it yet.” Everyone always ignores them. One wonders why they bother.
Well, that person could just as easily be talking about your wet carpet pad. Microbes are growing in that wet carpet pad. As long as it remains wet, they will grow. They multiply quickly, and exponentially. The more time passes, the more toxic the pad will get. It is impossible to dry the pad out quickly enough to prevent it getting toxic.
It’s already dead. Don’t let the fact that it is looking and acting normal fool you. It’s just a matter of time before it turns on you. Kill it, kill it now. Put a bullet in its brain pan and remember it as it was. Don’t look back. It’s for the best, really.
So, you have to take up the carpet and remove the wet pad below:
1) Get a needle-nosed pliers and find a corner. Slide the needle-nosed pliers under the baseboard, and grab a bunch of carpet, and pull it out from under the baseboards. Once you get it started, the carpet should come up fairly easily. Loosen about half the carpet in the room, and fold it over…pull the pad up, tear it into pieces and discard (an old cooler works well to carry it in). It may be glued to the floor in places, but it will come up if you pull on it. Flip the carpet back onto the exposed floor, and do the same with the second half of the room. Until there is no more padding left.
2) Decide if you are going to save the carpet. The figure I heard over and over again was 72 hours. If your carpet has been wet for less than 72 hours, and if it is fairly clean water that has soaked it…you have a good chance of saving it. Also, there is a latex backing on your carpet that will break down if it is too wet for too long. It looks like fine sand if it is breaking down. If you find something that looks like fine sand under your carpet and on top of the pad, and if you can see the weave on the bottom of your carpet, forget about it. Your carpet is a loss.
3) If your carpet is salvageable, go to the nearest rental center and rent an extractor, 1-3 large fans per room, and an industrial de-humidifier. The fans we got were shaped like coaches whistles, with a “nose” that we could put under the carpet. We also got several two-by-fours from the garage and the neighbor brought us a couple lengths of PVC pipe to slide under the carpet, and prop it up to get good circulation. Take the extractor and make several passes over the carpet, making sure that you go over it until you get all the water you can from the carpet. Then, deploy the propping material and fans (the props were in a “wedge” shape, with one end of each prop resting on the “nose” of the fans, and spreading out from there at roughly a 45 degree angle). Properly faced, the fans can “float” most of the carpet above the floor.
4) Apparently, you should also apply some kind of anti-fungal agent to both sides of the carpet. Neither Home Depot, Menards, nor the two local carpet stores I consulted knew what I was talking about, so we skipped this step.
5) After the carpets are dry, vacuum the carpets and rent a steam cleaner, or carpet shampooer. Clean the carpets, and repeat the drying process (fan rental gets expensive). When the carpets are dry, repeat the vacuuming cleaning and drying step again, this time at 90 degrees to your path across the floor the first time.
6) Finally, dust the carpet with baking soda and vacuum. Repeat (90 degrees to your path across the floor the first time).
7) If you don’t know how to install carpet padding or carpets, call a professional to re-install, or read some other sucker’s blog who figured out how to do it themselves and learn from them. ‘Cause I’ve had entirely enough for now, thank-you. So we’re hiring it done. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a professional “sanity check” your decision to re-install the carpet.
In the future, make sure to check the condition of your sump pump before leaving on your spring vacation. What the hell were you thinking?
Here are links to my source material that our friend Eric found for us:
[UPDATE] Oh yeah, I forgot. You also want to wash the floor down with a bleach-and-water solution before re-installing the carpet I believe it was something like two TBSPS. bleach to one gallon of water.