If you have lived in your house for a while, you know the conditions: too many days of rain, maybe that special time of year when the ground is still frozen and it is raining. You get that uneasy feeling because you know it is coming. As a carpet cleaner who does not specialize in flood work, I get the calls from the landlords who are clients of mine when they have flooding problems. I run through the procedure of the proper way of handling a flooded basement with carpet, and I picture them staring at the closest distraction, waiting patiently for me to finish. That's when they say, "Can you just come by and suck up the water? I do send you a lot of work!"
So what is the proper way? It is a fair amount of work and depending on how much of it you can do yourself, it could get a little expensive, but here goes. If you have carpet that is glued directly to the concrete with no padding, thank your lucky stars: get a carpet cleaning professional or a really great shop vac, extract the water and follow up with a fan circulating whatever fresh air you can direct into your basement. If you can get this done within 48 hours, you are doing great. If you have padding under your carpet and it is held on the edges with tack strip, you have a little more work ahead.
1) Clear the carpeted area of everything. You may be tempted to clear only what you believe to be the affected area, but the water may be traveling through an area to get where it is puddling.
2) Walk around on the carpet to see where the the water is; you may be able to get away with only replacing part of the padding.
3) Take a pair of pliers, grasp the carpet close to the wall and pull upward; this is detaching the carpet from the tack strip.
4) Roll the carpet back and use a razor knife to cut the wet padding out in straight lines and right angles; this will make it easier to place the new padding
.5) Roll the carpet back onto the floor. Use a shop vac or a carpet cleaning professional to extract the water from the carpet. If you use a professional, they can also clean the carpet at this stage.
6) Roll the carpet back up, and extract any remaining water from the concrete. If you have any mildew, you can spray the concrete and the back of the carpet with a solution of 1/3 cup of bleach to one gallon of water.
7) Get a large air mover and start drying the concrete and carpet with carpet rolled back. My favorite method is to re-attach the carpet to the tack strip and put the air mover in one open spot to blow air under the carpet and raise it up like a bouncy castle.
8) Replace the padding using a piece of the removed padding for matching. Have a professional stretch and re-attach the carpet.
How do you prevent basement flooding? Before you spend $10,000+ tearing up the concrete in your basement to have French drainage installed, try some simple solutions. Next time you have a good downpour, grab your umbrella and spring into action. Go outside and walk around your house, look to make sure water is not spilling out of your roof's gutters. Find out where your downspouts are exiting; it may be too close to the house or it may be exiting a broken underground pipe close to your house that was meant to exit at the street. Lastly, look for puddles close to the foundation of the house; these can be corrected by adding soil that slopes away from your house.
With these problems eliminated you can go back to enjoying the benefits the rain brings, like a healthy lawn!