The Problem: Urine and Odor Affect Carpet, Fabrics, and Textiles
Carpet, fabrics, even textiles, are exceptionally good at hiding pet or human urine contamination. Digging in and getting to the bottom of the urine and odor can be challenging, The harsh reality is that it quickly becomes a bigger problem than anticipated, and often more costly than anticipated. Another difficult component is the emotional challenge— it can be hard to manage and sometimes impossible to resolve once and for all without drastic action. Why, because the source of the problem is often a loving member of the family.
The emotional conundrum finds folks at wits end, why, because more often than not removing the source of the problem is NOT an option.
The Visible Aspect of Urine Contamination and an Unknown Health Alert
Visible urine damage can be unsightly. Other times urine contamination may go undetected without digging in a little deeper, meaning inspection of under surfaces that usually reveals a sobering existence of urine contamination. Either can haunt a homeowner and their dwelling.
Urine Breeds Hepatitis and Can Expose Occupants to Contracting The Disease
A blunt fact—urine left untreated breeds hepatitis. People live and tolerate urine damaged textiles unknowing there is a real and significant health exposure. Why, because urine contamination is obscured by textiles such as carpet fiber, upholstered fabrics, window treatments, area rugs, entry mats and runners, even sheet rock, trim and other contents in the home.
Out of sight (mostly) out of mind. From the front side it can be but a mere small spot, even as small as a pencil erasure. But flip the carpet over to the back side, the damage shows much worse and can look like a war zone. It becomes disguised because it absorbs into the fuzzy fiber content people tend to ignore. Or should we go there—they sweep it under the rug!
Admitting and Knowing a Home Has a Problem is the First Step, and Unfortunately Biological Contamination and Odor Quickly Goes Beyond Restoration Procedures to Often Times Psychological Challenges
While we are not psychiatrists or psychologists, admitting there is a problem may be an issue. Some may hide that they have a problem to protect their loving family member. Others become desensitized to the odor because prolonged exposure causes an inhabitant to lose their detection of smell to the problem.
It is with kid gloves that we as professionals must handle the psychological problem that goes along with chronic pet urine. As well, the family members must also have patience when dealing with a pet urine problem. Equally as important it is also a delicate task to create a better system for the pet or pets involved, hopefully allowing them to remain in the home as beloved family members. (it can be revealed that in our experience more often than not this is the case, as opposed to removing them. Most do keep their pets. And sadly others ride it out as they carefully nurture and love their pet during that difficult end of life process.
At Its Worst, Some Folks Go In Denial About Urine
Sad case in point, and of ‘hoarder proportion’—Years ago Wendy was called in by a Hoarder Decontamination Company to provide a urine remediation estimate. With the hoarder representative, the owner, her daughter in law, and the State Board of Health, this woman was in complete denial, insisting there was no problem. She probably had 10 cats living in the home. The home was littered with cat feces. The smell was sickening, and Wendy’s UV Light and Odor Meter was sounding off like a fire alarm. The woman defiantly refused to admit any problem. (While severe, this is commonplace. And hats off to the hoarder restoration folks and the health department who play an essential part in removing these vulnerable people. And too, successfully removing these loving pets to a healthier living environment too.)
Fact—Most Homeowners Clean Up Urine When Someone Misses The Toilet
Folks regularly clean and sanitize their floors, especially in bathrooms and around toilets. But, because carpet is really-really good at disguising urine accidents, pet or human, it often is ignored or, perhaps unnoticed. Think about it for a second- accidents in the bathroom would not be ignored, but accidents on carpet do–again as mentioned above—kind of like, mostly out of sight, out of mind!
Urine exits the body at 98.6 degrees (for humans, and whatever is normal for pets.) When the carpet is the target, it passes thru the yarns and backing in a steady stream, either from leg lift height, or squat level. Just like pouring a continuous stream of hot liquid, the urine stream passes thru the carpet in as small as a strike point as a pencil erasure. From a visual perspective it looks like a tiny innocent spot. However, once through the fiber surfaces it splats and spreads underneath the carpet and puddles outward. Explained technically, it strikes the tips, travels down the yarns, passes through the backings and padding to the hard surface. If excess quantities, say from a larger dog, or a repeat location is visited, it will migrate to the sub-floor or hardwood.
Again, need a better snap shot? Back to the bathroom, envision a guy (sorry) missing the toilet. It hits the floor then makes a puddle. The puddle lays in plain sight for anyone’s eyes, and hopefully not their socks! Honestly, it’s how any liquid spill would behave. But carpet covers up the dirty deeds, and is easily ignored.
Want to see the evidence yourself, just have a look at pet urine affected carpet that is torn out, the round stains might remind you of a war zone, or a dart board with bullseyes all over (as pictured above,)
Now For The Odor Problem—Beyond The Visible Ugliness of Urine Contamination, The Odor Makes It Worse
As the urine contamination goes unchecked, the odor will begin to infect the dwelling. First it could be faint, perhaps just down at the floor level where the accidents occur. Then it may “grow” and begin wafting in the air for all to experience.
Eventually the odor may start to play games on the homeowner—coming and going at certain times.
Does The Odor Seem Stronger At Certain Times, While Tame and Less Noticeable at Others?
No your mind is not playing tricks on you! Odor, and certainly malodor is accentuated and takes on a whole new life during humid times. For us, who live in a humid climate this makes a pet odor problem worse. When its raining and stuffy we commonly get calls from our pet families saying their pets must be at it again. Well, not always. It may be that the urine crystals are releasing their ammoniated urine smell when it rains and is humid.
Eventually Urine Saturated Surfaces Begin To Emit That Noxious Ammoniated Odor
The urine exits the body and soaks in to whatever surface. Next the water content evaporates, but urine salts remain and imbed into the textile surface. As urine is redeposited and redeposited the salt crystals drive down deeper and deeper.
Urine salts overstored in the body grow into kidney stones. But urine salts exiting the body have ammonia content. They are the offender from an odor standpoint once enough has built up in the textile they contaminate. At this point the noxious ammonia emits in to the air.
Compare Wet, “Funky Table Salt” in Summer to the Odor Releasing Offensive Ammoniated Salt Crystals
We all know that leaving table salt out in summer and humid times causes the salt to get wet. No real harm there, except it is clumpy. But the ammoniated salt crystals are a different story. As the crystals absorb moisture during humid or rainy times, the ammoniated salt crystal releases its rank ammonia urine smell. The reason it comes and goes at first is that the humidity is accentuating the malodor. Eventually, with enough ammoniated salt build up it becomes a steady malodor infecting the airspace. To learn more read this fictional tale (or should I say tail) that exemplifies the concept and makes it clearer to understand, “Cat Pee on a Hot Tin Roof.”
Now For The Odor Desensitizing Component, and the Severity of It
As the odor builds up in the house, the occupants begin to get used to it, and eventually become desensitized to it. They come and go without notice. As the odor progresses visitors to the dwelling meet the odor at the door, even to the point of knocking them out. It becomes so offensive people visit the home less and less. Or, the Health Department is invited in!
Before long the occupant’s clothes absorb the odor and it travels with them as they go out and about their ways. (Case in point—some years ago we had a ballroom dance instructor whose clothes reeked. We could not for the life of us wonder how she ever had any dance clientele willing to take her lessons!)
If You Find Yourself Dealing With A Urine Odor Problem, The First Step Is To Acknowledge That It Exists
Once that reality is admitted there are procedures to remediate it. Whether a DIY effort, if you are up to the task, or professionals are brought in, there are some sobering truths to be accepted. Role your sleeves up because there is hard work to be done. It is our suggestion to deal with a urine problem as follows:
- those involved be prepared to face the issue head on, and deal with physical problem and the sensitive psychological issue (if any.)
- a plan should be derived to modify the environment so the loving pet or family member can remain in the home while no longer causing the problem
- the contaminated areas need to be identified
- and a remediation plan be implemented that equalizes, locks in or replaces the affected items
With the Hardest Part Behind You (Admission of the Problem)—Remediation and The Healing Can Begin
At all times urine contamination, whether pet or human (or fecal or vomit—all biological damage) is never considered “light hearted” clean up. Just calling for a routine carpet cleaning or upholstery cleaning is not sufficient. The very moment the fluids or content exits the body onto a textile surface it is deemed “contamination” (by IICRC Industry Standards.)
A combination of equalizing sanitizing agents and cleaning agents may be all that’s needed (if you are lucky.) More often than not, when the content infects the undersurfaces, or deep within, the remediation must become more invasive. Those involved and faced with this dilemma need to be prepared. It gets invasively disruptive as the dwelling may need deconstruction to attack the hidden buried urine affected surfaces. Such items may be the carpet backing, the padding, the subfloor. If it is upholstery it may involve the inside cushions. For the homeowner in this boat it becomes a more complex tear out. And replacement probably will probably become necessary. Other textiles must be treated, and even the HVAC system and air space may need treatments.
In the End The Only Way To Relief Involves Patience, Acceptance, Cooperation and A Budget To Rid The Problem Once and For All
We sincerely advise that you embrace this unfortunately reality and face it head on. And, as odor remediation experts we hope you consider us your alley, not enemy. We are there for you. We want to help. However like many not wishing to hear unpleasant news, we have to “GO THERE,” and if you want relief, you do too!