Replace versus Salvage

The costs in expense and time to salvage water-damaged materials often outweigh the costs of replacing with new materials. In specific cases, materials with limited damage and high value may be salvaged cost effectively. The less absorbent the material, the cleaner the water, and the shorter the time until drying begins all increase the likelihood of a successful salvage. Materials damaged by contaminated water will require cleaning or sanitizing in addition to drying.

Base molding

Base molding on walls must be removed to inspect the base of the walls for water damage. For most molding it is cost effective to replace the molding with new. More expensive wood moldings can be carefully removed, cleaned as necessary, and then dried for re-use. If molding is to be reinstalled, mark it for location as it is removed.

There are two options to take:

  1. Remove the co-base and save for later re-install; Very important that you specify to the crews to utilize a razor knife and cut the caulk at the top of the vinyl co-base this will insure a straight line when removing. (Do not pull up and yank on base)
  2. Remove & discard- due to the type of water/growth/delamination/etc.


For most installations, replacement rather than salvage of the carpet will be cost effective. Always replace carpet if the flood is category 2 or 3 water, or it has been more than 48 hours since the flood occurred. Carpet applied over a wood floor must be removed to allow adequate drying of the wood floor.

If the carpet is to be salvaged, it must be lifted so that air can be circulated over and under the carpet. Disengaging and lifting the wet carpet requires special care to prevent damage to the carpet, especially at seams and attachment points. If carpet is to be salvaged, the best procedure is to remove the carpet to a remote location where it can be dried, sanitized, and professionally cleaned. The cleaned carpet can then be brought back for re-installation when the area is fully dried.

Carpet Padding

Always replace padding if the if the water is contaminated water, or it has been more than 48 hours since the water damage occurred. Always replace padding made of natural fibers, foam rubber, or skinned pads. Carpet applied over a wood floor must be removed to allow adequate drying of the wood floor.

Ceiling Tiles

Replace sagging tiles, tiles damaged by contaminated water, or tiles wet for more than 24 hours.


With prompt response, drywall can be salvaged. Open areas behind molding for inspection. An instrument for detecting moisture should be used to determine the condition of drywall near or in contact with water. If drywall is wet, but appears structurally sound, open weep holes to

release any trapped water, and allow ventilation into the inner wall. Check for insulation inside of the walls. If wet insulation is present inside the walls, it may be necessary to remove sections of the drywall to facilitate drying or replacement of the wet insulation. It may be cost effective to cut away wet drywall and insulation and replace the materials when the area has dried.   Replace sagging or delaminating sections of walls or ceilings. Open weep holes in ceilings where trapped water is suspected.


Heavily painted plaster can be difficult to dry. Open holes as necessary to provide for inspection and ventilation.


Depending on the size, value, and contamination in the water, rugs may be cost effectively cleaned, dried, and returned to the site.

Wall Coverings

After removing base molding, vinyl wall coverings must be pulled back to dry a wet wall. With more permeable paper or cloth coverings may be possible to adequately dry the wall with the coverings left in place. Staining may be a problem in trying to salvage wall coverings.