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Question DetailsAsked on 12/5/2017

How to get large amounts of sticky residue off hardwood floor

I have a house I’m trying to flip that has dog/cat pee all over the house, about a half inch of goop. Rags or anything short of maybe a carpet cleaner will not be feasible. Will a carpet cleaner be okay on hardwood or what should I do?

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I fear you may have confused a teardown, or at least gut and rebuild from the framing up property, for a flipping candidate.

Here is a prior question with answer about removing sticky residue - but from a rug backing, not at all the mess (pun intended) you are into. This sounds like the sort of house which drives so many novice flippers into bankruptcy, to put it simply. Around here, with normally 1850-2200 SF houses, the rule of thumb is a cat (or dog) lady or drug lab house is going to run at least $100,000 to rehab, and commonly half or twice again.

Generally, with this sort of animal (or human) contamination, at a minimum all flooring except tile/stone/concrete which was well enough sealed to prevent infiltration, baseboards, baseboard heaters and radiators and duct at the floor grills, and commonly the bottom couple of feet or drywall as well have to come up and be replaced, after thoroughly disinfecting the now-exposed subfloor and framing. Commonly about a $20,000-30,000 job minimum for normal size house just for the floor. Then many times all the insulation and sometimes all the drywall has to come out to - gutting to the framing - to get rid of the odor. Even then it may take an extended ozone treatment to get rid of the odor - which tends to come back in humid weather and of course in winter when natural outside air circulation through the house is less, so the risk of thinking you have it done and then finding out it stinks again, or having the buyer come back against you because you knew of this massive problem and failed to disclose it (and such a gross failure to disclose generally bypasses the rule that only resident owners have to do disclosures) can be a MAJOR liabilitiy - not to mention because it is a hazardous waste situation insurance will generally give you zero protection against any such claims.

I can't imagine trying to "clean" it up (as opposed to tear up and replace) will work at all, because the flooring and baseboards and lower walls will be saturated with it so will still smell as well as the surface finish being pretty well ruined. I can tell you from experience that sanding wood which has been saturated with urine makes a very distinct and highly penetrating / persistent odor, too, so even sanding and completely refinishing hardwood is pretty much a no-go for anything but a small spot area.

Trying to use a carpet cleaner machine like a Rug Doctor (some of which can be used on solid surface floors if careful about heat and quantity of water ejected) will likely just spread it around as well as probably force it deeper into and around the flooring with the added steam or water. Plus even if it makes it smell better for a bit (with disinfectant) a lot of the organic material will still be there in the flooring, to grow bacteria and fungus and such and start stinking again when it gets damp again - commonly even in humid conditions.

Normally a general contractor or flooring contractor will not touch this sort of situation until is is cleaned up and contaminated materials cleared out. The type of contractor who will is a Biohazard Remediation contractor - the companies who normally clean up drug labs and corpse and bloody crime scenes - quite expensive because of the workers protection needed and the disposal handling cost - MANY, MANY bags of debvris to be handled. And in some areas this sort of situation has to, by law, be handled as human hazardous waste even if you think it is all animal waste, so has to be incinerated as a biohazard. In other areas can be landfilled if written up as aninmal waste.

Good Luck - but to be perfectly honest I would recommend either making it a teardown or pawning it off (even if at a goodly loss) to someone else, because if you got into this house in this condition planning on flipping it that indicates you are not an experienced renovtion artist or flipper, so I really stink (sorry, think) you pit off more than you could chew.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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