How wet is too wet for a basement carpet?
July 18, 2013 8:05 AM   Subscribe

The basement floor drain where condensation from my AC unit drains backed up, leading to a minor leak which soaked a small section of carpet (maybe 50 sq feet). I'm guessing it was 4-8 gallons of water total that leaked, and that it had been wet 24-36 hours before we noticed. The back up now is fixed. I've got every fan in the house blowing on the area of carpet. Do I need to do anything else? I'm thinking I don't need professional help given the amount of water and that a few days of the fans blowing in that corner of the basement will dry it out without permanent damage.
posted by COD to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
One thing I'd do is SOAK the wet part in Lysol for it's mildewcide properties.

I did that when I drove into a deep puddle and the inside of my car got wet in Florida. It could have been a disaster, but I used towels to soak up the damp, and sprayed the SHIT out of it with Lysol.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:14 AM on July 18, 2013

You can also spray vinegar, or a mixture of vinegar and hydrogen peroxide.

Actually, stick with the vinegar. Peroxide might bleach the carpet.

Lysol is basically rubbing alcohol, so there's that to try.

Do you have a few space heaters you can add to the mix? If you could make the room super hot, that would be ideal!
posted by jbenben at 8:30 AM on July 18, 2013

Maybe rent a wet-vac and do a once over?

As a fun bonus, you can hover tennis balls over the air exhaust port on the wet-vac! (At least, you could on the model my folks had when I was a kid)
posted by Grither at 8:55 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

What's the humidity like where you are? If you live in a humid climate you will have little luck drying out a carpet with fans blowing humid air over it.
posted by dfriedman at 9:03 AM on July 18, 2013

I'd get rid of that patch of carpet. It might seem wasteful, but that's your best bet for preventing mold growth on it. Even if you're successful in drying out the top portion of carpet, there's usually padding underneath that has also gotten wet; mold can spread from there to the top layer and also contaminate other things in your basement.

Years ago while I was out running errands, my old washer flooded water all over my laundry room (tile floor) and the carpeted floor in the hallway. I was only out a short time and caught the mess early; I cleaned up all the water in the laundry room and used a steam vacuum to completely (I thought) sterilize and suck up the remaining water from the small patch of carpet in the hall that had been affected. I also ran a few large fans in the area for over 24 hours until it felt like things were completely dry. Even after all of that, months later I still found mold growing underneath the carpet when I pulled the entire thing out to replace it with tile. The mold had spread way beyond the original location of the spill. Luckily it didn't spread to the walls or anywhere else, but that's something to be concerned about as well.

You might find this link helpful.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:04 AM on July 18, 2013

This has happened to me -- but a bigger area. I'd be concerned about mold. Have you lifted the carpet to see if there is mold/mildew? If you can, lift the carpet and check. I'd sanitize under the carpet (as well as the padding and the carpet) regardless if it were me. That might be enough to do it.

In my case, I was advised that my carpet and padding needed to be totally removed in order to ensure there was no mold growth, but it was a bigger area of wetness. This info might be helpful.

I hope you can just deal with the spot! Changing out carpet is no fun at all.
posted by Lescha at 9:09 AM on July 18, 2013

You need to do two things, to prevent mold from growing in the padding.

1. Shop-vac to take out as much water as you can.

2. Pull up the carpet and point a fan directly at the padding. If you don't pull up the carpet and dry the padding, you are going to have problems.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:23 AM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will echo rabbitrabbit's comment.

What I learned in the recent flood we had was that the carpet installers are happy to come to your house and re-stretch and tack down the carpet that you pull up. So, if the section that is wet is near a wall, pull it up from that side and fold it over. Get the fans working on the wet carpet while you try to dry out the pad. You might not be able to save the part of the pad that got wet, but even if you have to replace that part of it, you'll be paying a lot less than replacing all of the carpet.

Good luck!
posted by achmorrison at 9:40 AM on July 18, 2013

I'd ditch the damaged section of carpet and probably the underlay if any. If possible, size the removed section so it can be replaced by cheap carpet tiles and use those to replace it. Then any future incidents can be managed in a modular fashion.
posted by epo at 10:05 AM on July 18, 2013

I sort of assumed you had used a Wet-Vac. I was an asshole and drove my Camero to the Car Wash and used THEIR vac to suck the water out of my car.

I still used towels, rotating them morning and night, to absorb any additional moisture.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2013

Perhaps you could rent a dehumidifier? That will actually suck the water out of the air, and then you can dump it down the drain or outside on your plants or whatever. That way you actually remove the water from the room, whereas with fans/etc the water is still there in the room unless you have really, really good airflow to remove it.
posted by number9dream at 11:37 AM on July 18, 2013

Response by poster: I hit it with a shop vac but there wasn't enough water to extract. So I pulled back the carpet, disposed of the wet padding, and I've got fans running to let it dry. I also turned down the AC a couple of degrees to keep it running to keep the humidity down.

It was more damp than wet.

Thanks for help.
posted by COD at 12:12 PM on July 18, 2013

my neighbor had a brand new rug in his basement get soaked in a flood and rented these special fans at home depot to put underneath the rug to run for a couple of days he was able to save it and still has the rug until this day.
posted by any major dude at 2:42 PM on July 18, 2013

You could rent a carpet dryer.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:44 PM on July 18, 2013

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