Water Extraction from Carpet: How to Minimize Damage

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A person wearing rubber boots while standing on a carpet that has standing water

Person wearing rubber boots on a wet carpet

An overflowing dishwasher, a flood, or a broken water pipe can wreck your day, not to mention your carpet. Whenever a water damage event impacts carpeting, it’s so important to dry the carpet as quickly as possible to prevent further issues. But, water extraction from carpet is not as straightforward a task as it might seem.

If you encounter a wet carpet, here’s a guide on how to address it appropriately to avoid secondary flooring issues and the development of mold and mildew.


Identify how much of the carpet is wet

This might sound obvious, but sometimes carpet can get wet in an area that you don’t often walk on or notice, or water damage may spread further than you expected. A musty odor coming from your carpet might be a sign that you have a wet area or excess moisture causing issues, and you’ll need to act quickly to dry it out. Even if you must eventually replace the carpet or decide to call in water damage professionals, start the process of water extraction from the carpet as soon as possible.


What kind of water is involved?

Knowing the cause of your wet carpet is helpful because it can affect your efforts to dry and clean the area. When dealing with water damage, there are generally three types of water that can be involved, and they are categorized by level of contamination:

  • Category 1. This involves a sanitary source of water. Damage is usually caused by an overflow of clean water from events such as a broken toilet tank, overfilling a sink, or a broken water supply pipe.
  • Category 2. This type of damage involves contaminated water that may be unsafe if accidentally contacted or consumed. Examples of these dirty water include  overflow from a dishwasher, washing machine, toilet bowl with some urine only, or another non-septic source.
  • Category 3. This is the most dangerous type of water because it contains harmful agents, pathogens, and other microorganisms that cause severe sickness or adverse health effects. Causes of Category 3 water damage include septic or sewage backups and all environmental  flooding (from groundwater, seawater, rivers, streams, etc.).   

It’s important to know the type of water you are dealing with so you know whether you can stop the water (if possible) and do so safely. The type of water can also be a factor in the decision to contact water damage professionals. For Category 2 contaminated water, you may be able to safely handle the cleanup yourself, but be sure to wear boots, gloves, and protective eyewear so as not to interact with the water directly. When dealing with Category 3 water, proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and containment are always necessary; you should not try to touch or clean up the water yourself as it contains harmful toxins. In some Category 3 cases, water damage professionals may even recommend bringing in an Indoor Environmental Professional to assist.


Soak up the water

Assuming the source of water has been addressed, it’s safe, and water has stopped leaking into the space, the first step for water extraction from carpet is to remove the excess and standing water from the carpet.

If the water isn’t so deep it’s measurable,  you can first use a shop vac for water extraction from your carpet, and then use towels to soak up the remaining excess water. Continue this process until you’ve dried the carpet as much as possible. Then, lift the carpet to inspect the carpet padding, and if it’s also wet, use towels to dry it out. You may need a carpet staple remover tool in order to properly lift up the edge of the carpet. The padding will become crumbly if it cannot be salvaged.

Also inspect the subfloor, drywall, and wall studs to see if any moisture has impacted these areas. If you are concerned, call a water damage professional.


Create airflow in the affected area

Once you’ve dealt with water extraction from the carpet and surrounding area, you’ll need to create airflow to help dry out the affected space. Set up fans and a dehumidifier to circulate air, but be sure to not open any windows or doors as that may make it worse.

Depending on the type of water, how long the carpet has been wet, or the odor that may be in the space, you will want to contain the airflow within the impacted space by closing the door to the area or creating a barrier that will block the airflow in some other way. This is important because if there are contaminants, airflow will spread them to other areas of the home or property, which can lead to additional issues. Contaminants should be removed, cleaned, and disinfected before any airflow is applied so that there is no cross-contamination to the property.


Freshen the carpet odors

If you notice an odor in your carpet, or you’re trying to prevent odors after water damage, then the carpet should be cleaned, disinfected, and dried out completely. It is nearly impossible to get all the moisture out of a wet carpet without specialized equipment, so musty or moldy odors may occur if the carpet is insufficiently dried out and mold begins to grow. Be mindful that scented products may mask the odor for a time but will not remove the odor. Household products like baking soda should not be sprinkled on the carpet either because it will only leave more debris behind in the carpet.

You should keep checking your carpet after you’ve dealt with the issue to make sure mold is not forming. If an odor persists, that’s a sign that something more might be going on, and it is usually best to call in a water damage restoration company to ensure there isn’t residual damage in, under, or around your carpet.


When to call the experts

At 1-800-WATER DAMAGE, we’ve had many experiences with water-damaged carpets and homeowners who tried to do what they could before calling us. The biggest error we see is when people think the carpet is dry, but they’ve missed an area, or it isn’t actually dried out down to the padding. Most people do the best they can, but our technicians have specialized equipment that can extract all excess water from carpets and other building materials to restore normal, safe moisture levels to the area.


The bottom line is this: When you have a wet carpet issue, you must get ALL the water out of your carpet. If you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to, or if you have any specific concerns, just contact your local 1-800 WATER DAMAGE team, and we’ll be happy to help.

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