How To Remove Severe Urine Odor Contamination

Severe urine odor contamination is not just a one time "pet accident" but results from repeated urination. The only way to truly tell the extent of this problem is to inspect what lies below the carpet surface.

A urine soaked area rug can be inspected by simply turning it over to assess the damage. On the other hand, wall to wall carpet installed over padding must first be disengaged from the tack-less strips. In so doing, a thorough inspection of the carpet backing, padding, tack-less strip, and sub-floor can be made.

Wall to wall carpet can also be installed by gluing the carpet directly to the sub-floor. This limits the scope of the inspection to just the carpet surface, not below the carpet surface.

On the upside, most "glue downs" are on a concrete sub-floor. This installation uses no padding or tack-less strips. The urine odor contamination is limited to the carpet, carpet backing and sub-floor. On the downside, the only path for odor treatment is through the carpet face without the ability to seal the sub-floor.

What are the procedures to remove severe urine odor contamination?

  1. locate the odor source:
    • If cat urine is the odor source, concentrate the search along a border such as a wall or piece of furniture, not in the middle of the room.
    • A dog is more unpredictable in where it will deposit urine. A dog could favor a border like a wall or sofa, or the middle of the room.
    • Generally speaking, cat urine odor is more difficult to remove than dog urine odor, but locating the source of dog urine odor is more difficult to find than cat urine odor.
    • Look for visible evidence in the form of spots or discolorations. Visible evidence is not always present in urine contamination odors.
    • Use a "black (ultraviolet) light" to locate the odor source. In a darkened room, the salts found in urine become fluorescent in the presence of ultraviolet light.
    • The use of an electronic moisture detector is helpful in locating the sticky residues and moisture found in severe urine odor contamination.
    • The black light and moisture detector are two tools common in the carpet cleaning industry for finding urine deposits. The most available and practical method of locating urine problems is your nose. Don't be afraid to get down on your hands and knees to seek out urine problems.
  2. remove the odor source:
    • For carpet installations over padding, the carpet should be disengaged from the tack-less strip and inspected from the back to determine the scope of the problem. There are times when the urine odor source can be located in the middle of the room, requiring furniture to be moved.
    • Note do not attempt to treat a severe urine odor problem if you are not qualified to install new padding, tack-less strips or reinstall the carpet.
    • For "glue down" carpet installations, the carpet cannot be disengaged. Any inspection needs to be done from the face of the carpet.
    • Once the severity of the contamination is evaluated, the cost to correct verses the cost to replace the carpet can be determined. If correction is more cost effective, discard the contaminated padding and tack-less strips. Inspect the baseboards and wall for contamination and replace if necessary.
  3. clean the surface where the severe urine odor contamination exists:
    • Heavy urine contamination can get into a porous sub-floor like cement or wood. These surfaces are difficult to clean or even treat with a typical deodorizer. Its easier and more economical to simply seal the surface with a physical sealant to create a sealant barrier. Allow sealant to dry.
    • Place a sheet of plastic over the sealed sub-floor. Thick enough to prevent any moisture from getting to the sub-floor.
    • lay carpet on top of plastic and saturate the affected areas with an acetic acid solution (vinegar). The dilution is 2 ounces of acetic acid to 32 ounces of hot water. Enough solution needs to be applied to reach all the contamination. Apply enough to recreate the "crime". The purpose is to liquefy the urine salts so they can be rinsed away.
    • remove as much of the acetic acid solution as possible. Use an extraction machine such as a "wet/dry vac" or professional carpet cleaning equipment. Particularly useful for this task is a special water extraction tool. Designed for deep extraction, this tool is available to the carpet cleaning industry.
  4. apply a suitable deodorizer to eliminate any remaining urine odor:
    • The most popular types of deodorizers for urine odor are enzyme based, oxygen based and molecular modification.
    • Enough chemical must be applied to completely wet out the contaminated areas. Follow the manufacturer's directions for proper results.
    • Allow the deodorization treatment to run its course and eliminate any odor before proceeding to the next step.
    • With severe urine odor contamination, treatment may need to be repeated.
  5. reinstall padding and carpet
    • Remove the plastic sheet from under the carpet, reinstall new padding and tack-less strips. Reinstall the carpet. Skip this step if carpet installation is a glue down.
  6. clean face fiber of carpet
    • deodorizers can leave a residue which should be cleaned to return the carpet to a softer, healthier condition. Clean with an alkaline cleaning solution (pH 9-10) such as Procyon Spot & Stain Remover, blot to remove as much moisture as possible and allow carpet to dry.

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