The IICRC has a standard formula for how many air movers are needed for a restorative drying effort: Install one air mover in each room with wet carpet, then add one air mover for every 50 to 70 square feet of wet floor. But there are exceptions to the rule.

Professionals should use industry standards and onsite testing to determine what equipment is needed — air movers, heaters and dehumidifiers. This allows experts to obtain the desired level of dryness for each location.

“We use dehumidifiers, heat and dryers to take the moisture out of the air and not just move it around,” says Griffin. “If we run into infectious materials in the air, we attach a HEPA filter to a vacuum or use an air scrubber, which is like a big vacuum with a built-in HEPA filter.”

DeLoatch stresses that paying attention to indoor air quality (IAQ) is important. Carpets contain significant organic matter and applying air flow aerosolizes these contaminants, which can be a respiratory hazard to sensitive individuals. Cleaning the carpet prior to drying can remove these impurities and prevent exposure.

Generally speaking, the carpet dries easily. It’s the subfloor that will give BSCs trouble.

To solve that problem, Cooper suggests pointing air movers at a 45-degree angle, 6 to 12 feet apart to form a vortex.

“This vortex goes around the room and rapidly dries the walls and floor under the carpet,” he says. “When using air movers, the moisture travels into the air and should be extracted using dehumidifiers, so you don’t cause any secondary damage.”

Incorporating Technology

DeLoatch says BSCs can get a good idea if the carpet and subfloor have dried by using moisture meters, infrared cameras, moisture sensors and thermohygrometers. Charts of the past have been replaced with these technologies.

“We place monitors in the floor and walls that send information to a data logger that tells how the process is going,” says Griffin. “Monitors also let us know how much longer until the carpet and subflooring are adequately dry. Conditions can be monitored and adjusted via the Internet, cell phones and cameras from off-site locations.”

Monitoring moisture levels is important because after carpets sustain saturation, mildew and mold become worrisome. Quickly drying the carpet, however, decreases the likelihood of mold growth, says DeLoatch.

“Creating the appropriate drying conditions coupled with environmental controls will prevent mold growth,” he adds.

The sour smell in carpets after they’ve been wet for 12 to 24 hours is not mold. Bacteria produce metabolic gasses that cause the odor often referred to as mildew. Once the carpet is cleaned and dried, that smell goes away.

Certain conditions may spawn mold. A modular carpet with either a plastic or jute backing that has gotten wet before has the potential to now grow mold.

“You need experience and training to dry wet carpets,” says Griffin. “If you do it wrong, close up the building and go home for a few days, you may return to mold and odors.”

Drying saturated carpets needs expert attention to achieve a successful outcome. Taking classes with reputable sources provides the skills to do so, along with local professionals ready to work when needed.

Heather Larson is a freelancer based in Tacoma, Washington.

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