Basement Leak? How to Dry Wet Basement Carpeting

If a basement leak or broken pumping pipes has led to damp or wet carpeting, it’s important to dry the carpeting quickly. Mold can form in as little as 48 hours, leading to musty smells, ruined carpeting and possible health concerns.

Here’s how to dry wet basement carpeting after a basement leak.

How Bad is the Basement Leak Damage?

First, assess the damage caused by the basement leak: What type of water caused the damage? How soaked is the carpeting and carpet padding?

If the water soaking your carpet is clean, trying to dry the carpet is a good option. If the water is muddy or contains sewage, your best bet may be just to replace the carpeting altogether.

Drying a Large Basement Carpet After A Basement Leak

If your basement leak has led to the entire carpet and padding being soaked, you may want to lift it up and carry it outside for drying. Be careful, wet carpet is very heavy so make sure you have enough muscle power to get the carpet outdoors. If you’ve gotten to this point, you may want to call in professionals. They have equipment to dry the carpet in place.

If you do decide to do-it-yourself, once the carpet is outside make a tent-like form with your carpet so drier air will reach both the top and bottom of the carpet and will dry it more thoroughly. You can use lumber, plastic storage bins or lawn furniture to help tent the carpeting.

Once the carpet has completely dried, you may need professional help from carpet layers to make sure it is reinstalled properly. Finally, clean the carpet with a carpet cleaning machine or hire a professional carpet cleaner to do it for you.

Spot Drying Wet Basement Carpet After a Basement Leak

If the carpet is only damp or just soaked in spots, you can definitely dry it yourself.

Start by opening any windows in the basement. Remove as much furniture and other items in contact with the wet carpet as you can. If you plan to file an insurance claim, make sure you take photos of the damaged items before you move them.

If you can pull up the carpet to get at the carpet pad, you may want to cut out the wet portion of the pad and set it outside to dry. This works best for smaller leaks in corners or along walls. Once dry, you can reinstall the cut out piece of pad with duct tape.

If you have basement leak problems, you should invest in a wet-dry vacuum. Use the wet-vac to draw up as much of the water as possible. If you don’t have a wet-vac but own a carpet shampooer, you can use that to suck the water from the carpet. Do not use a regular household vacuum cleaner.

If you don’t have a wet-dry vac or carpet shampooer, you can rent them from rental shops, carpet cleaning services or hardware stores. But wet-dry vacs are inexpensive enough it is probably worthwhile to just buy your own. They have a lot of other uses around the house such as workshop and car clean up – not just helping dry basement leaks!

One trick that can speed drying up basement leaks is to use towels, rags or old t-shirts to blot up as much water as you can after vacuuming. Simply lay them over the wet area and walk over them to soak up as much water as possible. If you have basement leak problems, it’s a good idea to keep a laundry basket full of old towels tucked away. Even if this is your first basement leak, it probably won’t be your last. You’ll find a stockpile of towels and rags to come in handy.

Next, place fans in various areas off the floor of the basement and try to direct air flow over the carpeting. While box fans will work, your best options are desktop, osculating fans placed at floor level. These will not only move air back and forth, directing the air flow over a wide area, they also can be tilted down and aimed at the wet spots. Make sure you check for anything that will be blown around by the air flow, then turn the fans on “high”.

You can rent specially designed carpet fan blowers that move a tremendous amount of air. But they are expensive, noisy and you may be better off just buying a few fans if you don’t already own them.

Fans will eventually dry the carpet, but it can take several days. The best way to speed drying is to use a portable home dehumidifier. If you have a problem with basement leaks, you probably have a dehumidifier already. If not, seriously consider getting one. A good basement humidifier will go a long way towards eliminating the musty smell and mold issues that basement leaks usually cause long before actual water damage. Plus adding a basement dehumidifier to your fan set up can cut the drying time for wet carpeting to a day or so.

Place the dehumidifier on a chair or table and turn it on. Check the dehumidifier periodically to drain the water collection tank.

Once the carpet is dry, clean it with a carpet-cleaning machine. If you don’t have a carpet shampooer, sprinkle baking soda over the carpet, let it sit for a while, then vacuum it up.

An Important Safety Tip

One important tip with fans and dehumidifiers: Be aware of the risk of electric shock. Set them up and off the wet carpet so that the wires and housings don’t touch the wet carpet directly.

The One Weird Secret Behind Most Basement Water Problems

Basement waterproofing contractor with 30 years experience reveals how to fix basement leak problems yourself or prevent getting ripped off by the pros

What’s the weird little secret behind most basement waterproofing problems?

It’s a secret that can show you how to solve your basement leak problems without having any Do-It-Yourself skills.Home Waterproofer's Manual

Or it can save you thousands of dollars if you do decide to call in professional basement waterproofers.

What’s the secret?

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