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Pet Urine & How to Deal With It


Urine damage is the bane of all homeowners with pets! The odor and unsightly stains it can leave behind are a real problem. Damage can be extensive and expensive to repair. Below are some facts every homeowner should be aware of as well as the treatment recommended most often by the cleaning and restoration industry.

How Urine Affects Your Home

There are salts present in urine that act as a desiccant. They continually draw moisture from any source available, including moisture in the air.

The various components that are present in urine can bind themselves to the fibers that make up your carpet. In effect, they become a part of the fiber and therefore a part of your carpet. The most commonly contaminated material is carpet, but urine can and often does affect sheetrock, shoe molding, draperies, upholstery and HVAC systems. Multiple visits to the same deposit site can even result in the urine penetrating clear down to the sub-floor.

The odor created from urine can be obnoxious and extremely tenacious. All urine is not created equal either. The odor can be affected by many factors such as age, health, diet, medication, vitamins, amount deposited, dwell time and gender. Also, if urine remains in the carpet, it will develop a putrid odor from microbial action. 

Urine Detection

The presence of an odor is an obvious indicator that pet urine is present in the carpet. However, since not everyone has the same sensitivity to odor, here are a few alternatives in urine detection.

  1. Moisture Stick Test. A moisture sensor can be a useful tool in locating areas where urine has been deposited. The moisture sensor is capable of detecting moisture in materials at fairly low levels. It is not foolproof however. The moisture sensor must come into contact with a contaminated area that has a high enough moisture level to be detected. If the carpet has been cleaned prior to inspection, the sensor will detect the recently deposited moisture from the cleaning.
  2. Black Light      (UV) Testing. Of course there is always the familiar light to dark yellow color of urine, but not every yellow spot on your carpet may be urine. A black light can be an effective detection tool as urine has a characteristic fluorescent pattern. It can be recognized by both its fluorescent properties and by the pattern of distribution. The back of the carpet and the subfloor will show large dark rings that are characteristic of significant areas of deposit. There are limitations to using a black light though. Deposit sites on a recently cleaned carpet are more difficult to locate because the components that fluoresce have been diminished. A black light does not show fluorescence well in lighted areas and it is not always possible to get the inspection area sufficiently dark for optimum performance.
  3. Cleaning Agents. Urine detection can be complicated further by cleaning efforts. Most cleaning compounds contain a fragrance of some kind that can mask odor temporarily. The cleaning itself introduces moisture, which in simple terms worsens the odor, which may not have been detectable previously. Once the area is dry, the odor should return to the level it was at prior to the cleaning efforts.

Treatment Options

Successful remedies for pet urine damage require time, energy and expensive treatment products and procedures. Treatment of extensively contaminated carpet should be avoided because of its low success rate. 

  1. Treat the affected areas with an enzyme. This very often is successful at masking an odor problem that isn't too severe. However, the carpet will need to re-deodorized after all future cleanings.
  2. When deodorizing is not successful. We recommend the removal of both the carpet and the pad, treating the affected area of subfloor with a germicide, allow it to dry and them seal with a white pigmented shellac. The carpet is then cleaned and treated with an enzyme on both sides and reinstalled over new pad. This is fairly successful but not 100% guaranteed.
  3. Replace both carpet and pad. The floor must undergo the same procedures as stated previously; however both the carpet and the pad are replaced in this instance. 

As you can see, each step becomes more involved and more expensive. The homeowner must make the final decision as to what treatment option will be implemented. 

Swan's Clean Care & Restoration is committed to giving you the most up to date information on the procedures used in the cleaning industry so you can make an informed decision. Please let us know if we can assist you with any of the above procedures.