The winter of 2019 was an exceptional year for snowfall and cold weather in much of the northern region of the US including the metro Omaha area. The excessive snowfall and cold temperatures created the perfect conditions for ice dams which caused water damage to many homes in the area and as temperatures rose at the onset of spring, so did the floodwaters with the melting snow and rain. Many homeowners have had their basements inundated with water from the flooding. We received many calls for help in mitigating water damage to carpeting. When carpeting has been saturated with water it can develop staining that is called ‘cellulosic browning’.
Cellulosic browning usually originates from the backing of carpet which can have natural fibers. These natural fibers when saturated in water release a dark brown or yellowish substance called ‘taninns’. As the carpeting dries, these tannins wick to the surface of the carpet fibers and leave a stain. Water damaged carpet can also have rust stains, furniture stains and mold stains. Rust is usually one of the easier stains to remove but browning, furniture and mold stains can be more difficult to remove. Rust is removed by applying an acidic rust remover to the affected area and in a matter of minutes the rust will dissolve or can be absorbed into a white cotton towel. Cellulosic browning and mold stains can be removed with oxidizers, mold being the more difficult to remove. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild oxidizer that can be very affective on browning stains. While we use commercial strength products, do-it-yourself homeowners can sometimes have success with 3% hydrogen peroxide if the area is not too large. The product will need to be repeatedly misted with a spay bottle to moisten the carpeting and allowed to dry between applications until the desired result is attained. UV light will also accelerate the process, so if there are certain times of the day that the area is exposed to sunlight, this can increase its effectiveness. Furniture stains can be one of the more difficult stains to remove and require the use of both solvents and oxidizers. Many furniture stains will not come out completely.