Although underlayments provide a wide range of benefits, it’s essential to promptly dry wet carpet padding after flooding or significant water pooling.
For those who are not necessarily flooring professionals, padding is typically installed under your carpet to dull noise, minimize stress on the subfloor, and enhance softness when you walk across a room.
The materials used for this underlayment include foam, nylon, rubber, and fiber, among others. Although it delivers benefits to homeowners, there are significant reasons to be concerned when it gets wet.
Liquids tend to seep through carpets and collect in the padding, which acts like a sponge.
Blocked from fresh or moving air, they generally do not dry at the same rates as exposed materials. In many cases, padding takes so long to dry out on its own — if at all.
This damp environment makes it a bedrock for unhealthy molds to fester and spread.
Moist padding can act as a petri dish and spur mold growths in 24 hours or less. Those are reasons why homeowners must work quickly to dry wet padding. These are the products, appliances, and techniques necessary to complete this task.
1: Gather these products & appliances
- A dehumidifier or Air Conditioner
- Extension Cords
- Wet Vac
- Circulating Box Fans
- Rubber Gloves
- Disposable Mask
- Safety Glasses
- Carpet Pullers or Needle-Nose Pliers
- Towels or Cloths
- Household Carpeting Disinfectant
- Baking Soda
2: Create healthy airflow in impacted space
One reason why homeowners should act fast is to mitigate the spread of mold spurs. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention links unhealthy mold to child respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
That risk is why it’s critical to create a stream of fresh air before beginning any remediation. These are common household strategies for minimizing humidity and creating sustainable air quality.
- Activate a dehumidifier to collect moisture.
- Turn on an air conditioner to lower temperatures.
- Open windows and doors so air can circulate.
- Use circulating fans to draw in the fresh air and push out unhealthy air.
The critical point is to use whatever method is most practical to maintain healthy air while working in the space. Once you complete the task, the mitigation steps can begin.
3: Pull back and remove the carpet
Decide whether or not to remove the entire carpet or only pull back the moist area.
If the floor is entirely flooded, you’ll need to remove all the carpets, take it outside, sanitize, and thoroughly dry under the sun. Even if it appears that some areas are dry, the padding underneath tends to retain moisture.
Regardless, work needs to be done. Put on your protective gloves, safety glasses, face mask, and peel back the top layer using carpet pullers.
You will discover that the material is primarily attached to tracks along the outer regions. If tracks were not used to lay the product, staples might be the thing that’s holding it in place. Use needle-nose pliers to remove them. Now, roll it up and remove it from the space, if necessary.
For health and safety reasons, it’s in your best interest to place the carpeting in a place where it can dry. Sunlight is a preferable choice if weather permits. Otherwise, remember that the material could also harbor mold spores, and sanitization is crucial before reinstalling it.
4: Address the moist padding
With the padding exposed, you can quickly test how much moisture has been absorbed by stepping on it. In many cases, water will pool to the surface around your shoes. If the material is soaked, you can expect a long drying process.
Start by plugging your wet vac into an outlet away from any water damage. If the entire room and adjacent rooms were drenched, don’t hesitate to run an extension could and waterproof the cord’s connection to the wet vac.
Get as much water as possible out. Avoid pressing down hard or running the hose too quickly. This can result in padding damage.
5: Direct airflow over the padding
Once you feel as though you’ve drawn as much surface water as the wet vac will allow, sprinkle baking soda over the impacted materials. A thin layer will suffice.
Reposition a box fan to push air over the baking soda and moist material. This will speed up the process. Don’t blow the fan directly on the baking soda, or you’ll create a bigger mess.
Allow the fan to go air over the padding for at least one hour. Once the baking soda has absorbed the maximum amount of liquid and odor, vacuum it up using a shop vacuum.
At this juncture, assess the padding by stepping on it to see if liquid still rises. If any water surfaces, repeat the process of spreading baking soda, allowing a fan to run for another hour, and then vacuuming again. Repeat until water no longer rises.
6: Roll back the padding
Using your protective gloves, roll back the padding, and determine whether the subfloor is still moist. If the surface is damp, this will likely cause mold and foul odors if left untreated.
Using a towel or cloth, thoroughly dry the subfloor. Leave the padding pulled back and direct a fan to push fresh air over the space.
Once the surface has dried, use a household disinfectant to sterilize the surface and wipe dry. Also, remember to use a disinfectant on the underside of the padding as well.
The strategy is to target any potentially unhealthy growths that could negatively impact you or your loved ones.
7: Sterilize the padding surface
With the material thoroughly dried, it’s crucial to make sure no contaminants stay on the padding surface. Spray a household disinfectant on the surface and let dry.
Another option would be running a steam cleaner to kill potential viruses and bacteria lingering on the padding.
With a thoroughly dried and sanitized padding, you can restore the carpet over it when it’s ready.
Can you save wet carpet padding?
The answer depends on the severity of the flood or leak. If the padding is completely soaked, the only recourse would be replacing it with new padding.
Your carpet’s padding has the same properties as a sponge. Once water seeps through it, the material absorbs it. Mold can germinate within 24 hours if it stays wet.
For mild soaking, yes, it is possible to save the padding. However, for severe flooding, it might not be possible to keep the padding.
How long does it take for mold to grow in wet carpet?
Mold and mildew can germinate and grow in carpet within 24 to 48 hours, according to the EPA. Please note several factors will determine the speed of which it grows. These include the humidity and the amount of moisture present.
Will carpet dry on its own?
Whether or not carpets will dry on its own will depend on several factors – humidity, weather conditions, and moisture levels. However, relying on Mother Nature to dry carpets without any intervention is a losing proposition. You’ll have to do your part to facilitate the drying process.
Let the air circulate by opening the doors and windows – mold thrives in moist and stale conditions.
If that isn’t possible, invest in a dehumidifier to absorb excess water in the atmosphere. Open the fans and heaters (if available). Check the weather – if the sun is out, open the curtains and let the sun’s UV rays dry the carpet.
Remove any furniture in the way so air can circulate and speed up the process.
How do you get water out of carpet without a wet vacuum?
Just in case you have a moist carpet and don’t have a wet vacuum, here are some practical tips for drying it out.
Open the windows (or doors) for the air to circulate on the area. Spread out clean white towels over the wet areas and place books or a solid object on top to help it absorb excess water. You may need to go through several sets of towels until there’s no more water to soak.
Next, grab the biggest fan you own and point to toward the wet areas – this will help speed up the drying process.
For those living in a flood-prone area may want to purchase a couple of these air movers. These are big industrial fans that help dry carpet fast.
Will carpet padding dry out?
The location of the carpet padding makes it impossible to dry on its own. Since it’s underneath the carpet, you’ll have to pull out the carpet to dry it properly. Again, the sponge-like properties of carpet padding make it challenging to dry. This material isn’t meant to be wet – so if it’s soaking wet, it may be time to replace it.
You’ll have to remove the carpet (check out steps above), place fans around the area, and open the windows to dry the padding out thoroughly.
How do you get rid of wet carpet smell?
There are several methods to get rid of wet carpet smell. The most popular method is sprinkling baking soda over the carpet.
This condiment is known for its odor-absorbing properties and helps absorb excess moisture from the carpet.
You’ll have to wait (between a few hours to overnight) for the baking soda to do its work and absorb the moisture. After the waiting period, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the excess baking soda – make sure to run the vacuum in both directions to get every crumb of baking soda.
Another way of using baking soda is to put boxes of it around the room for the same purpose which is to absorb odor.
One issue with using baking soda is its propensity to clog up certain types of vacuums. If you’ve run into this issue, consider purchasing a dehumidifier that also has the same function – absorb excess water.