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The Not-So-Great Flood

Waterlogged carpets are a mess, but one that can be fixed by professionals with the right equipment.

It could possibly be the worst day of your life-certainly in the top ten of worst days. You come home to find your house is flooded. Whether from a broken pipe or a backed up sewer line, you are in for a lot of disruption to your life. The first thing to keep in mind is that there are companies specially designed to help you. Some of your cleaning expense may be covered, depending on your homeowner's insurance. File a claim with your insurance company, as that will help you to determine what parts of the clean up will be covered and what costs you will have to pay. Generally, if the floodwater came from a pipe, the clean-up will be covered by your policy. If it's groundwater, you probably won't be covered. In either case your insurance company should be able to provide you with the names of reliable companies to dry your home out.

You will also need to determine whether you will restore your former carpets or replace them and start over. Restoration will always be less expensive than replacement, since the cleaning, drying, and sanitizing phases will need to take place either way, but replacement is worth considering, based on the age and quality of the carpet. Once a carpet has been through a flood, it tends to "delaminate," or separate from the adhesive backing.

Once this has occurred, the carpets must be replaced. If the flood water is fresh, clean water or even "gray water," (standing water or water from a toilet overflowing) you may be able to salvage your carpet. If your house is flooded with "black water" (from a sewer back up) you will probably have to replace your carpets.

Once the crew arrives to dry out your home, they will use special equipment to extract water from the carpet and the sub-floor. The carpet can now be detached from the tack strip, and the padding removed. Water-soaked padding should never be restored, as it costs more to salvage it than to replace it.

Consider having the carpet and sub-floor sprayed with a germicide to prevent mold and mildew, based on how long the water was in your home. Once this step is completed, the drying actually begins. The crew will use blowers and dehumidifiers to dry out the remaining dampness. The blowers push a strong stream of air beneath the loosened carpet. Drying takes place at the sub-floor level and the water wicks up through the carpet, where dehumidifiers catch it and route it outside. As this process ensues, the crew will monitor the humidity level in your house, ensuring that your home will be properly dried. Expect this drying process to take approximately three days. Once the carpet is dry, a new pad is installed and the old carpet can be stretched and retacked, or new carpet can be laid. Then, hopefully your life will get back to normal!

Sources: Lee Fleming, The Washington Post