How to Prevent Carpet Mold After Water Damage

Carpet mold is a common consequence in the aftermath of water damage. A carpet presents a perfect environment for mold growth. The fibers capture dormant airborne mold spores present in any home. Microscopic bits of cellulose—mold’s favorite food—are also attracted and retained in carpeting by static electricity. Moisture, then, is the only missing element. Once water damage occurs, soaked carpeting will often spawn mold growth in 24 to 48 hours.

Simply allowing carpet to air dry is not enough. Drying a wet carpet does not eliminate the inherent mold potential. Here are some standard steps to prevent carpet mold:

  • Not all wet carpet is an appropriate candidate for cleaning and mold disinfection. If water damage is Category 3 “black water” — raw sewage from a backup or outdoor flooding that inundated the house—the carpet is toxic and typically needs replacement.
  • The process must begin ASAP. The mold clock is ticking as soon as water contacts the carpet.
  • Remove standing or pooling water on the carpet with a wet/dry vacuum.
  • Powerful water extractors pull deeper water out of the carpet and, in some cases, out of the padding beneath, as well. If water damage is Category 1, originating from a clean source like a broken water pipe, professional extraction methods may eliminate the need to pull up the carpet and remove the padding. If Category 1 water has remained in the carpet for more than 24 hours, however, or if the water originated from a contaminated Category 2 or 3 source, the padding may need to be removed and replaced.
  • Steam cleaning—not just hot water extraction—provides superior mold decontamination. Professional carpet steam cleaners inject steam above 212 degrees, high temperatures necessary to kill mold growth. Most pro steam cleaning units can also inject mold disinfectants along with the steam, as well as deodorants.
  • Professional air-moving equipment designed to direct high-volume air across the surface of carpet and floors should be utilized to rapidly dry the carpet after cleaning. To support drying, dehumidifiers should be kept running in the affected room.
  • Moisture meters should be utilized to confirm that the carpet is fully dried.

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