Does a Flooded Carpet Always Have to be Replaced?

wet carpetCarpet and the pad beneath it are usually early casualties of home water damage. At floor level, carpeting is the first to contact water from a variety of sources and also remains soaked with water longer than many building materials. Where the flooding originates, however—as well as how long water has saturated the carpet—are important factors that determine whether a flooded carpet can be saved. In some cases, the carpet is salvageable while the padding will be discarded.

Water damage events are classified in one of three categories:

  • Category 1: Clean water from a ruptured water supply pipe, icemaker line, or other similar sanitary source, and which has saturated the carpet for less than 48 hours.
  • Category 2: “Gray water” includes shower or bath drain water or incidents such as a washing machine overflow.
  • Category 3: “Black water” is toxic contaminated water from a sewer backup, outdoor flooding that has inundated the house or events like a clogged toilet overflow.

Here’s how those categories affect the outcome for a flooded carpet.

  • If Category 1 water damage occurred less than 48 hours ago, water damage recovery professionals can usually salvage both the carpet and the padding underneath. Using specialized water extractors, moisture can be often removed from the carpet and pad in place, without detaching the carpet and lifting it up.
  • If Category 1 water damage occurred more than 48 hours ago, microorganisms and mold spores within the carpeting have begun to multiply. In this case, the carpet and pad are considered contaminated and must be treated the same as a Category 2 “gray water” event.
  • If Category 2 “gray water” has flooded the carpet, the pad must be discarded. Water can usually be extracted from the existing carpet and then the carpet can be cleaned and treated with biocides to kill microbes and mold spores. After a new pad is laid, this carpet can be re-installed.
  • If Category 3 “black water” is the source of water damage, both the carpet and pad must discarded. Flooring beneath the carpet should be treated with disinfectants before new carpet is laid.

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