Here’s the nightmare scenario. There’s been a big rain in the night. You head down to the basement to get something the next morning, and you realize that there is a wet carpet in the basement. You can already feel the damp basement, and the musty odor has started too. You need to act fast, so here is what you need to do when you have a wet carpet in the basement.
First things first
Before you do anything else, turn off the electricity to the basement or at least the affected area of the wet carpet. You never know what can happen. The last thing you want to do is end up electrocuting yourself or someone else in your family because there’s a loose wire somewhere you are unaware of. After you’ve done that, you’ll need to identify the cause.
What causes wet carpet in a basement?
Water in the basement can be caused by one of several things. It’s important you take steps to identify what the source is. First, make sure you’ve defined the area of the basement carpet that is wet. Feel around to see if the water has drained to this area or if the area is localized.
Remember, water obeys gravity and will flow to the lowest point, so the area that is the wettest may not be the source; it may just be the lowest point in the basement. Trace the flow of water to its source of origin. If you are having problems, here are the likely causes of flooding in the basement
Water seeping through a crack in the floor.
If you are in a rainy season, it could be that the soil is oversaturated, and hydrostatic pressure is pushing the water in the ground up through a crack in your basement floor. This may be hard to see if your floor is covered with carpet.
Another common cause of basement flooding and carpets getting wet in the basement is pipes leaking. Corrosion can build up on the inside of your pipes and eventually give way, causing a water leak. This just happened with us when the flexible braided hose under the sink started leaking. The good news is this it will be easy to identify if you can see the plumbing in the ceiling.
You will need to turn off the water for your house to isolate the leak. You can do that while you call a plumber and wait for them to arrive.
*A hint that this is happening could be low hot water pressure; often, it is from a leak in a pipe.
Related: How To Turn Off Water To The Toilet (Before it’s an Emergency)
Another place to check is your washing machine. If the door in the washing machine was not properly closed, which can happen when something gets stuck in the door, and the seal didn’t completely close. It will leak water.
Another issue could be the washing machine leaking from the back; this could be one of the hose connections coming loose, or the drain tube is plugged.
Water seeping through basement walls
If you have cracks in your basement walls, water can start to leak through and pool on the ground. There are many ways to identify water seeping through basement walls, a few of which are bubbling paint and pooling water on the floor of an outer wall.
Normally your drain tile will deal with this water, but if you have an older house that doesn’t have subsurface drainage, that water will stay there looking for a way in.
If your toilet is clogged and the float remains open, there could be water overflowing from the bowl. Turn off the water to the toilet and unclog the bowl.
Hot water tank
If your water heater is leaking, there will be a shut-off valve above it. This will stop the cold water from coming into the tank. Make sure to turn off the gas if you have a gas water heater. That’s why it’s important to maintain your water heater.
Related: Water leaking from the top of your water heater
Related: Hot water tank leaking from the bottom
Sump pump failure
If there was a power outage in the night, it could be that your sump basin filled up with water. This is the likely cause of the flooding and the damage to your basement carpet. If you’ve noticed that your sump pump hasn’t been running constantly or that your sump pump constantly runs, it could be signs that there is something wrong.
The best thing you can do is to practice proper sump pump maintenance and ensure that everything is working properly.
If this is the case, you will need to get a new sump pump installed so it can properly pump out all of the water in the basement.
Another option is to install a battery-powered sump pump as a backup. The good news is that a broken sump pump is a relatively inexpensive and easy fix, whereas some of these other repairs could cost you thousands of dollars.
Need to replace your carpet? Use our carpet cost calculator.
Wet bar sink
Another source could be the wet bar in your basement. Anywhere there is water flowing could be a spot. Make sure to check under the sink for any water leaks. It could be the cause of your wet basement. Here’s how to fix a leaking flexible hose under the sink, if that is the cause.
In some cases, the air conditioner exhaust could be running back down the wall of your house and into the basement, causing water to pool on the basement floor.
If there’s been excessive rain in the days leading up to your basement flooding, it could be that your gutters are clogged. The water has been gathering at one spot, flowing down into your basement and causing your floors to get wet. Take a look outside to see if your drain spouts are adequately draining away from the house and that your gutters are free of any clogs.
Now that you’ve identified the source of water, you will want to move on to the next step.
Identify the type of water damage.
You should identify what category of water damage you have. There are three types of water damage typically; the one you deal with is a Category 1 and is not dangerous if handled immediately.
However, category 2 and 3 levels of water damage are dangerous and need to be handled by a professional. Those waters can contain contaminants and other things that are detrimental to your health, like greywater or a sewer backup.
For this, you should contact water damage restoration professionals so that they can deal with this type of water damage properly.
Remove any valuables off the floor.
If you have items in the basement that are getting wet, you should get those items out of the wet basement before they are further damaged. A wet carpet in the basement could soon be a gateway to a few more inches of water in your basement if not handled quickly and correctly.
Make sure you’ve done all you can to remove or elevate any of the items on the ground that you do not wish to get water damage.
Remove the water
The next thing you will need to do is remove the water from your basement. Depending on the volume of water, you can do this with a vacuum that specializes in water like a Shop-Vac or Wet vac.
If there are a few inches of standing water in your wet basement, meaning that it’s flooded, you should get a pump to pump out all of the water that is in the basement.
Contact your insurance agent.
Your house insurance will cover different types of flooding depending on your coverage. Contact your local insurance agent to see what you are covered and what steps you should be taking as far as taking pictures and what is required from you to file an insurance claim.
Decide what to do with the carpet.
If your carpet is slightly damp in one area, you can use a Shop-Vac and towels to dry up the excess water and then put on some fans to dry it out.
However, if the basement carpet is fully soaked, you will need to remove the carpet and carpet pad. Please be careful in doing this as there will be nails, carpet tacks, and glue keeping the carpet stable on the floor.
You may also need to get rid of the wet baseboards and remove them before you can pull up the carpet. If your wet baseboards are made of wood, you may be able to salvage them. But if they are made of MDF, then they are likely going to need to be thrown away because they swell once they come in contact with water for too long.
Related: What to do about water damage on wood floors
Open windows and remove moisture
Now that the damp carpet has been dealt with, you’ll want to remove any excess moisture in the air by opening the basement windows and having fans blow out the moist air that is in the basement.
Use all methods you can think of; exhaust fans, dehumidifiers, wet-dry vacuum, anything you can do to remove moisture from the air and promote air movement is a good thing. The drying process may take a few days, depending on how much water and how long it has been in the basement.
Inspect the basement for other damage
Once the carpet has been safely handled, you will want to make sure that there isn’t more damage done to the walls and other items in the basement.
Sanitize, Disinfect and clean the basement
Water damage left unchecked can cause mold to form. The spread of mold can cause health issues to you and your family if it is not dealt with quickly. So it’s important to deal with it right away.
You can have a mold removed by a restoration service company. They can come out to deal with this, and it is likely the best way to handle it. There are things that may need to happen beyond what you can see with your eyes.
For instance, if your walls have gotten wet, mold spores can begin to form behind the walls. For this reason, most restoration services will strip down all walls, including the foundation walls, to the studs. Then spray them to treat the mold.
The basement will need to have the walls insulated, drywalled, and patched after this. You will want them to do this so that they can limit the spread of mold in your basement.
Contact your insurance agent and file a claim.
A flooded basement could mean tens of thousands of dollars in repairs. You will need to decide the extent of the damage and whether or not it is worth filing an insurance claim. There are a lot of reasons to file a claim with your insurance company. It will depend on the scale of the basement.
If your whole basement has flooded and you have excessive damage to your personal belongings, and you need to move out of the house, filing an insurance claim can be the best thing to do.
Make sure the problem is fixed.
Before you finish your basement again, make sure that the problem that caused your wet basement has been dealt with.
If it means replacing a sump pump, waterproofing your basement, or even putting in adequate subsurface drainage, now is the time to do it.
Otherwise, you will be going through this process again and again. If it was just a one-time thing, like a washing machine leaking, then you may have already dealt with it. But in all the commotion in drying out your basement, make sure you fix the problem.
Frequently Asked Questions: Wet basement carpet
What do you need to dry your carpet?
If you find that it’s just your carpet that’s wet many of these above things will not apply. But you will need to act fast to limit the spread of mold. Rent a wet extractor or carpet cleaner and run it over your carpet to suck up the better part of the moisture.
You will want to run a dehumidifier and some large fans pushing the air out to help the carpet dry faster. It may be tempting just to run two dehumidifiers to remove the moisture from the air, but the best thing you can do is to suck up the water with a carpet cleaner of some kind.
How long does it take for mold to grow in a wet carpet?
Mold can begin to form within 72 hours of being on a carpet.
Will a dehumidifier dry a wet carpet?
No, a dehumidifier is meant to take moisture out of the air. To remove it from a carpet, you will need a wet vacuum.
Should carpet be replaced after water damage?
If the carpet has been wet for more than 72 hours or the water damage is from a contaminated source, it should be replaced. Unless the water can be treated immediately and dried, the carpet should be replaced.
Is carpet mold dangerous?
Yes, mold spores on a carpet are dangerous to your health.
Will wet carpet dry on its own?
No, it will not dry on its own. If the wet area is small, you can always vacuum it up.