A few week’s ago, we were called out to a cottage alongside the River Wye in Chepstow. A pipe fitting beneath the upstairs bath had failed, eventually causing the living room ceiling to collapse.
The initial mess of ruined plasterboard had already been cleared by the owner, so our role was to assess the situation & implement drying measures so that this room could be mended & redecorated as soon as possible.
Step 1: Survey
The first thing to do was to investigate exactly where the water had travelled & what materials it had affected. In this case, moisture readings showed significant absorption of water in several of the walls, particularly where plasterboard was fixed over existing brick walls. The carpet was ruined & would need removal.
Step 2: Remove damaged/saturated materials
Once we had lifted the carpet & removed it, we could see the state of the floor beneath. In this case, the floor was OSB board over joists-
You can see in the image how clearly the moisture shows in this absorbent material. There was a removable panel in the floor (top right of the image) which allowed us to investigate the void beneath. This showed there was bare soil below.
Interestingly, as this property was on the river bank, we would expect higher than average moisture readings throughout the property, particularly as it was build before the era of damp proof courses & vapour barrier membranes.
Once we had removed the carpet & underlay, we were able to spray the areas of damp with an anti-fungal solution to arrest any potential growth of black mould. This was not likely, given the low temperatures at the moment, but is worth doing as a preventative measure.
This video shows the initial emplacement of dehumidifiers & air movers-
Note how we have used ducting to channel the dry air into the small cavities between the plasterboard and brick walls.
Once the equipment had been installed, we explained to the home owner how to turn it off when needed and arranged a series of return visits to monitor the drying.
As we left, the stillness of the River Wye made for a spectacular reflection of Chepstow Castle.
Accidents happen from time to time, particularly if you have pets (or children!). When pet urine spills onto your carpets or precious rugs, prompt action is key. Despite what you read online, often all that is needed is to blot the liquid up with a dry towel and perhaps some water.
If the accident involves urine, speed is crucial. If the fibre type is wool (or cotton, linen, viscose, sisal etc.), the need for prompt action is even more pressing. This is because urine is acidic. It also contains a broad range of organic matter that can cause staining & malodours.
Last week, we were asked to treat a large, valuable pure wool rug that had suffered significant contamination from cat urine. The current owners of the rug had inherited it from relatives, only later realising it came with quite of lot of Labrador hair embedded in. The new owner’s cat did not take well to this & expressed his option quite liberally over the expensive rug.
In this instance, the cat urine did not cause any noticeable staining. The homeowners only became aware of the issue when their front room began to smell unbearable. As IICRC Odour Neutralisation trained technicians, we carry a range of kit & solutions to deal with incidents such as these.
The first tool we used was our Sebo BS36 vacuum…
Following a thorough vacuuming to recover as much dry soil & historic pet hair as possible, our next tool was an Ultra Violet torch. The video below shows how effective this can be in causing the contaminated areas to effloresce-
After we had identified the areas of cat urine, we applied a urine neutralising solution to this patches to break down the problem, The element of urine that causes long term odours are uric salts. These attract moisture, which explains why sometimes on warm, humid days, people notice the smell reappearing – the uric salts have simply absorbed moisture from the air & become reactivated,
The next step was to apply a wool safe cleaning solution to the whole rug, brush this in & allow a 15 minute dwell time. This allows the hi-tech solution to break down soils & greasy deposits ready for extraction.
Finally, we set up our Airflex extraction machine & rinse-extracted the rug with a slightly acidic solution. This recovers all the soils that the cleaning solution has made soluble and ensures the wool is left at its preferred, slightly acidic state.
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Our branch in Frome covers a very wide service area, which includes Warminster. We were delighted to be invited to survey some of the retail outlets within the Longleat House estate for commercial carpet cleaning.
Commercial carpet survey
The first location that required a deep-clean was the sweet shop. This is an area that (for obvious reasons!) endures a very high level of footfall.
When we arrived for the survey, the flooring initially appeared to be a wood effect laminate but, as soon as you stepped onto it, its softness revealed it to actually be Flotex. Flotex is made with 70 million fibres per square metre!
We don’t encounter this type of carpet very often, but it was popular in the past as a kitchen carpet.
It has several unusual characteristics that make it a practical option, such as:
Very sound absorbent
Very dense surface area, meaning it traps & hides soils extremely well
20 years durability guarantee
From a cleaning perspective, it presents certain challenges. In a shop such as this, it will tend to hang onto an enormous soil load. Also, because of its density, we need to use a specific machine to agitate the floor as rotary floor machines tend to jam on its velcro-like surface.
Social distancing stickers
This floor had quite a few, worn out social distancing stickers on the floor that the managers wanted to replace, so our first job was to get these off the floor. Thankfully, we keep builder’s floor scrapers in the van for just this type of job…
Using contra-rotating brushes
After we had carried out a thorough initial vacuum, it was time to bring out “Old Faithful”.
This slightly battered orange machine is a contra-rotating brush machine, specifically designed to lift deep-seated soils from within the carpet pile whilst simultaneously agitating a cleaning solution into the carpet. The image below shows the night/day impact of this process…
Traditional rinse extraction
Once the floor had been prepped, it was time to recover all the soil & debris we had made soluble using a rinse extraction machine. On this occasion, we used an Airflex Miniflex. This is a compact professional carpet cleaning machine with more than enough power to tackle this job.
Rinse extraction cleaning is sometimes referred to as steam cleaning.
When hot water is fired out the end of the carpet cleaning wand, it has the appearance of steam. This carpet did not require a particularly high water pressure (in this case, around 200 psi).
Once we had cleaned the floor, it was clear that it would need to be cleaned again. So we repeated the process a second time!
When we had completed the second rinse, it was basically job done. We installed a fan heater to accelerate the drying, cleaned the equipment & headed home.
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