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How to clean & restore flooring after a flood

Act fast to save your floors from water damage

We’ve entered the cold, rainy season here in northwest Oregon and that means stormy weather and the potential for flooding. But heavy rain isn’t the only hazard – your building might also be vulnerable to flooding caused by broken water mains or internal plumbing problems. Sudden cold snaps are a common cause of broken pipes, especially if they aren’t winterized and insulated properly. So how should you clean your flooring after a flood? Here’s what we recommend.

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Trust flood clean-up to the pros

There are a lot of cleaning tasks you can DIY, but we strongly recommend that you contact a professional to clean your flooring after a flood. Flood water may contain harmful contaminants and any moisture that lingers can permanently damage your floor and encourage mold growth, which is dangerous for human health and difficult to remediate.

PLEASE NOTE: If there is any chance that the flood water contains contaminants such as heavy mud, debris, sewage, chemicals or other hazardous substances, cleaning alone won’t solve the problem. You’ll need to remove the damaged flooring and replace it. But for clean water intrusion (think water from a broken pipe), permanent damage can be avoided if you act fast!

Step 1: Water extraction

Time is of the essence here. The goal is to get your flooring dry within 24-48 hours. Any longer and the risk of mold growth goes up. There are a variety of tools you can use for this task, such as a sump pump, Shop-Vac or a truck-mounted vacuum. For carpeted areas, follow up with a water extraction machine.

IMPORTANT: Don’t wait! The carpet may be salvageable, but the carpet pad acts like a sponge and becomes a growing medium for mold and bacteria. If you’re able to extract the water and start drying your carpet immediately, you may be able to save the carpet pad. However, if the carpet has been wet for 24 hours or longer, consider contacting a flooring installer to remove and replace the pad. It’s much less expensive to replace the pad than the carpet itself.

If you’re dealing with vinyl tiles, you can pull them up and check the subfloor underneath for moisture. Make sure to dry the subfloor completely before replacing the tiles.

Step 2: Dry & dehumidify

Once all the standing water has been removed, it’s time to start the drying process. We recommend commercial-grade dehumidifiers and large fans to circulate dry, warm air through the affected area. Keeping the air temp around 80 degrees is optimal for reducing humidity.

Remember: getting the floor completely dry within 24-48 hours is key.

Another helpful technique is to alternative your HVAC setting between heat and AC as the floor is drying. The heat pulls moisture into the air and the AC reduces humidity. Continue to cycle between heat and AC until the floor is completely dry.

Step 3: Assess the flooring & schedule further cleaning

Check carefully to make sure your flooring is 100% dry. At this point, you’ll need to decide if any further treatment is necessary. For example, you may need to contact a flooring installer to replace the carpet pad or remove damaged vinyl.

The last step is to schedule a restorative deep cleaning service. Your floor has been through a lot and it deserves some extra TLC! A restorative carpet cleaning will remove any lingering dirt and refresh the fibers. For hard floors, a scrub and recoat will leave your floor squeaky clean and restore its shiny finish.

We’re here for you when things go wrong

Be prepared for emergencies by partnering with a cleaning company that does it all! Our customers enjoy daily janitorial care, specialized cleaning services, annual maintenance plans AND emergency cleaning all under one, simple contract with Cleansolution. Schedule your cleaning consultation today to get started!