Carpet Pet Damage Often Overlooked By Homebuyers

Share Article

Pet "accidents" can quickly ruin any carpet. Pet urine can also soak into carpet padding and even into the concrete or wood flooring below. This article informs potential homebuyers how to protect themselves from this unseen and often "overlooked" form of carpet damage.

It is very important to consider the condition of carpeting in a previously owned home before making any offer to buy. Replacing carpet is a major homeowner expense and many unsuspecting homebuyers discover carpet damage too late, often weeks after moving in. The main problem is the highly potent odor and severe damage caused to carpet and padding by pet urine, which is often difficult to detect and almost impossible to eliminate. For many homebuyers, the problem could take weeks or even months before it is fully realized.

Pet odors may not be so obvious.

When touring a home for sale, homebuyers may not immediately notice the odor from pet urine if the carpet has been recently cleaned and might therefore assume that the carpet is in good condition. Similarly, if a homebuyer tours a home while it is unheated or when doors or windows are wide open, odors from pet urine can be much less noticeable. Pet urine odor will be easiest to detect in the winter months while the heat is on, and also when air circulation is limited during hot summer days. Be aware that central air conditioning can also help hide pet odors.

The problem can get worse.

Homebuyers with pets may be surprised to find fresh pet "accidents" in their newly purchased home. Most dogs and cats will urinate or "spray" indoors to overpower the scent of pets that

previously inhabited the residence, causing the pet odor and carpet damage problem to

escalate. It's natural for dogs and cats to mark their territory and will do so if they feel

threatened or to establish or define boundaries. Cats use several methods to mark

their territory including spraying, scratching, rubbing against furniture, and leaving

feces uncovered. Dogs use urine marking to show dominance or to make claim to something

they feel belongs to them. Female dogs may urinate over any spot where another dog has

previously urinated.

Even pets that have never had "accidents" previously may begin urinating or spraying if

they detect the scent or markings of other animals. When this happens, complete carpet

and pad replacement may be the only hope of solving the problem. It may also be

necessary to have the wood or concrete subfloor sealed to prevent urine odor from

seeping up through the new carpet because animals have sense of smell many times

better than humans.

Carpet cleaning won't solve the problem.

Pet urine is very difficult to completely remove from carpet because it often soaks through the surface fibers into the carpet backing and may even become embedded into the padding and flooring below. Having the carpets professionally cleaned may help temporarily but the underlying damage caused from pet urine will not be solved and the urine odor may quickly return. Carpet that becomes urine-soaked will quickly deteriorate and further cleaning will only worsen the problem.

How to protect yourself.

It's not enough just to ask the seller if there is or has ever been a pet urine problem in the home because people who have pets can become so accustomed the odor from pet urine that they may be unaware of the severity of the problem. In order for homebuyers to know for sure if there is a pet urine problem they will need to conduct their own investigation. The best way to determine the presence of pet urine damage would be to pull up the carpet in a corner of the room and look for signs of urine stains. Another effective but less popular method is to just get right down on the floor and smell the carpet in suspected areas. Cat urine glows under a black light and that may also be a method that may be used, but the room must be dark in order to see the urine stains. Cats tend to prefer urinating in a quiet corner or in closets, while dogs will usually urinate in the middle areas of a room or lift their leg on furniture or other objects. A thorough room by room search may be necessary to discover the scope and severity of the problem.

If it is determined that the carpet has significant pet urine damage, the total cost of replacing the carpet should be considered prior to making an offer to purchase the home. In some cases, urine soaked wood subflooring may need to be completely removed and have new wood installed. A qualified flooring contractor should be able to provide a reasonable repair estimate.

The high cost to replace carpet.

New carpet and padding prices have been on the rise for the past few years due to rising crude oil and fuel prices. Replacing carpet in a typical 2-bedroom home could easily cost more than $2500 for a medium grade style. Prices for carpet vary widely depending on the quality, face weight, type of fiber, and style selected. There are other expenses to consider including carpet padding, moving furniture, removing the old carpet and pad, and professional installation. Some carpet retailers include some of these items in their carpet prices but homeowners are often charged extra if the job requires more than what is considered to be a simple or "basic" installation. Potential carpet buyers should visit to learn smart ways to save time, money and learn how to avoid common carpet scams on new carpet purchases.

Alan J. Fletcher is a 30-year veteran of the flooring business, a consumer advocate and the author of "The Complete Carpet Buying Guide" an e-book available for instant download at


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Alan J. Fletcher

Email >
Visit website