I have three young boys, so I ask that question a lot. Even worse, though, is this situation: after carpet cleaning did not fix the odor, you’ve replaced the carpet, but you can still smell the pet odor that convinced you to replace it in the first place. Why does it still smell? Most people assume that tearing out the old carpet and replacing it with a new one will solve all pet odor problems. While it’s true that the carpet is capable of holding more pet urine than any other place, other porous materials in your home can perpetuate the problem even after new carpet installation (or an effective carpet cleaning).
If there is still an odor it is because the odor-causing agents (usually pet urine) have not been removed. If you replaced the carpet and the pad, those are not the problem. The pet urine has soaked in somewhere else.
The first places I would suggest are the subfloor and the baseboards. If you are replacing carpet to get rid of pet odors, it’s important to seal the subfloor first. If put urine has soaked into the subfloor, and you put carpet over it, some people will be able to smell it.
The baseboards and sheetrock can also contain a lot of pet odor, usually with male cats who spray the walls. Once it has soaked in, the only way to fix this problem is to remove and replace the baseboards and part of the walls. It is useful to examine the walls with a powerful blacklight to see where the damage is. Even worse than removing too much sheetrock would be removing too little!
If you have pet damage to your carpet and are considering installing new carpet to solve this, have someone inspect for pet damage. If the problem goes beyond the carpet, you will want to know that before replacing it. It is much easier to fix the subfloor while replacing carpet than after replacing it.
Dan Keech owns Keech Clean LLC, a full-service carpet cleaner and installer in the Raleigh area.
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