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Case study #5
A Minor Rehab Effort

Click on the pictures for a larger version of the picture.

The Story:
  • A nice house in a nice neighborhood.
  • Previous owner had several large dogs and cats that routinely soiled inside the house.
  • Period of contamination was more than 5 years.
  • Floor covering was carpet and padding over old style asbestos tile on plywood sub-floor.

This is a nice 30 year old brick 3 bedroom house that was bought knowing there was a severe pet urine odor problem. The well kept exterior it inconsistent with what was inside. The problem was primarily restricted to the hall way and front bedrooms though there were urine stains in every room and in the basement.

Removing the carpet and padding was the first step and had been done the same day these pictures were taken, evidenced by the fact that the floors shown below had not yet been washed.

The carpet laying on the back porch badly stained and very smelly.

The carpeting pictured here was picked because the top of the carpet was practically unstained, but the back was badly stained in the same area. This level of staining is not at all uncommon and is unrecoverable.

Though this kind of staining is not at all unusual, it is very typical of the type of stains found on carpet that is installed without padding on tile, finished hardwood, or padding with a moisture barrier. Instead of the padding drawing out and holding most of the urine, the carpet backing is left with the task.

The door frame pictured in this and the next picture are not recoverable. The urine has soaked up into the both the trim strip and the actual door frame to almost 2 inches. The stained wood is very soft and even after it is cleaned, the stain and urine residue will remain and produce large amounts of odor.

The area around this door frame has not been disturbed except to remove the carpet and padding. Though there had been no pets in the house for 6 weeks, the padding was still very wet.

The light brown urine residue (against the dark brown tile) can be easily washed away with TSP and water, in preparation to spray the area with OdorXit.

It is difficult to see from this picture, but the wood in this door had de-laminated up about 3 inches from the animals urinating on the door and the door being in contact with the wet carpeting.

The previous owner attempted to repair the dry wall here with drywall mud. The act of removing the base board with a wonder bar caused the triangular marks on the wall because the wall was so soft and wet.

Notice that the dry wall extends all the way to the floor. This will have to be cut back 1/2 to 1 inch to provide access to the 2x4 at the bottom of the wall so that it can be sprayed.

This cold air return is rusted beyond repair in the lower left hand corner from what appears to be cat spray. The area behind the grill was heavily contaminated but was recoverable.

The Rest of the Story

The conclusions that can be drawn from this example.
  • The tile on the unfinished ply wood flooring saved this new home owner lots of money and effort.
  • Buying damaged houses can cost homes seller a high percentage of the value of the house if they do not make the necessary repairs before attempting to market a pet/human contaminated house.
  • The neighbors indicated that this house had been this way for a long time and could be smelled from the street when the windows were open. Fortunately, the air conditioning worked most of the time.

This study is meant to demonstrates that urine contamination can do serious damage to flooring and structural members. The source of this type of staining is by no means limited to pets.

Please do not take this case study or its conclusion as an indictment of cats or pets in general. IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE ONE! I have a dog and 2 cats pictured on this site, and would not trade them for anything. They also do not foul my house.

Updated April 2013

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