None of us could have predicted the devastating damage done by Hurricane Harvey. As Dallas residents, it’s easy for us to say things like, “At least you’re okay!” to our friends in Houston, but the truth is, our friends are not okay. Homes have been destroyed and precious belongings have been damaged. Ever since the hurricane hit, we have been receiving many phone calls and emails from Houston residents asking us how their rugs can be saved. When you think of a rug, you might think of a fashionable rug seen at a department store. You may think to yourself, “That rug might have been expensive, but surely it’s replaceable.” This is not always the case.
We know many people have priceless antiques and family heirlooms in their homes. These rugs are not just rugs. They are treasured memories. When someone calls us asking how to save their rug, we understand that they are frantic and worried for a reason. The rug someone is calling about could be the rug they bought on their honeymoon with their late husband. It could be the rug their mother gave to them. It could be the rug that they planned on giving to their children. Our point is that this is not just a “thing” they are worried about. A treasured rug is truly priceless, not simply a pain to replace.
Unfortunately, we are not equipped to drive down to Houston and save every rug, however, we can offer some guidance. This blog post will cover how flooding can affect your rug, what you can do after your rug is damaged by a flood, and what professionals will do to restore your rug. We are also offering free written appraisals (the kind you use for insurance purposes) for anyone who has been affected by the hurricane. Don’t worry- there is no obligation to use our cleaning or restoration services if you need a written appraisal! You can call or email us for more information on this service.
How to Respond to Heavy Flooding on Your Rug
The first thing we want you to know is that the flood restoration process is time-consuming and labor intensive. If your rug is a machine-made rug or otherwise mass-produced, it might be cheaper to simply buy a new rug. We strongly suggest weighing the pros and cons of restoration versus replacement if your rug can actually be replaced. The second thing we want you to know is that you can relax. Rugs are a lot more resilient than you would expect. Depending on your rug’s age, origin, and material, many rugs can bounce back from being under flood water for days and even weeks.
When you first get to your rug after it has been soaked in flood water, you will more than likely be shocked. After 24 hours, rugs that have been exposed to flood waters and saturated in them begin to show early signs of color run and color bleeding. For the uninitiated, these are simply terms that say that the dyes on your rug are not where they are supposed to be at all. Antique Persian and Oriental rugs are made of natural fibers like wool and silk, and these fibers are incredibly absorbent. Runoff and flood water will be quickly absorbed by your rug. This water is not just water so much as it is a mix of water, chemicals, sewage, and many other things you really do not want in your rug.
The best way to rescue your rug and restore it to both its natural beauty and its original value is to respond ASAP. Your rug may not be insured, but that does not mean you can’t try to get some financial assistance from your insurance company. If you were wondering what the appraisal from earlier could do for you, its purpose is to list out exactly what your rug should be worth, what colors it should have, how much it is currently worth, and what sort of damage is present. As a rug owner, what you need to do with the appraisal is to present it to your insurance company when you are making a claim. They will take care of the rest.
How Your Rug is Restored
By this point, you are probably wondering how exactly your rug is supposed to be restored. First, hose your rug down with water. This will remove the large chunks of debris from your rug’s pile and foundation, along with washing out a good amount of the flood water. This is actually something that you can do yourself. Again, if you act quickly, many types of rugs can be restored to either their original state or close to their original state. Some rugs may have darker or lighter colors by the end of the restoration process, so do be aware that could be a possibility too.
From here on out, you will need a professional. Not all rugs can be washed and restored in the same way, and rugs and carpets should never be washed with the same cleansers or cleaning methods. Educate yourself on both the type of rug you have and the people you are trusting your rug with. If you are not sure who to go with in the Houston area, you are more than welcome to call us for advice.
Your rug will need to be dried to preserve the strength of its foundation. Rugs can weigh double their regular weight when wet, so we do not recommend moving your rug by yourself. For most rugs, we recommend drying flat, out in the sun. The UV rays from the sun kill mold and restore the natural oils in wool and silk. A wet rug should never be hung to dry as this stresses the foundation. Some rugs, namely traditional Chinese rugs, should not be dried out in the sun, as this could damage their dyes. Not sure? Ask us!
After your rug has dried out in the sunlight, the rug restoration professionals will wash your rug numerous times. Your rug should be washed with a mix of enzyme wash and organic safe for wool/silk shampoo. Generally, a rug that has been in a flood will be washed over and over again until the water and shampoo are both clear. Then, the rug must be dried flat and in the sunlight again.
The next step is to beat your rug. Yes, we’re getting very old-fashioned here! Master cleaners of Persian and Oriental rugs will have a tool called a paroo in their arsenal of cleaning tools. A paroo, which translates to English as “paddle” or “oar”, is a wooden tool used by rug washers.
It has a straight edge, which must be rubbed against the foundation of the rug in order to release dust, debris, and other particles from the front of your rug. Once your rug has been beat, it will then be lightly vacuumed to ensure that nothing is left on the foundation of the rug. We cannot emphasize the lightly here enough. Do not let your rug survive a flood only to be damaged by a vacuum cleaner. The beating and vacuuming will be repeated until your rug is clean and debris free.
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, we were able to restore many rugs from there despite being all the way in Dallas. Rugs were dried off and shipped or driven to our location, and we were able to ship the rugs back there. This might be one option if the rug professionals around you are too full to take in new rugs.
If you need an appraisal but are concerned about missing photos, don’t worry. There are still options. For example, we have appraised rugs damaged by fires using family photos were the rug in question was visible. Let us know your situation and we will let you know what options there are.
Again, you are under no obligation to use our services if you call us for advice or even for a free appraisal. We simply want to help you however we can. If you have any questions that have not been answered, don’t be shy! Please call or email us.