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How to Prevent Carpet Mold

Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

After a home water damage incident, the steps to prevent carpet mold take high priority. The deep pile in carpets harbors dormant mold spores accumulated over time along with microscopic organic material that serves as mold nourishment—skin cells, tiny food bits, hair, insect parts, and even common dust. At this point, all that’s missing is the presence of moisture to activate dormant spores. A carpet saturated during water damage rapidly converts into a highly efficient mold-breeding ecosystem, continuously releasing toxic airborne reproductive spores, spreading contamination throughout the house, and producing allergic symptoms to susceptible occupants.

To Prevent Carpet Mold or Not

The deciding factor in the effort to prevent carpet mold after water damage is time. From the moment water soaks a carpet, a race against the clock begins. Within 24 hours, dormant spores begin converting into active mold growth. Once 48 to 72 hours have elapsed without professional intervention, a wet carpet and the padding beneath it must be considered presumptively contaminated by mold. 

If the window of opportunity to prevent carpet mold elapses without professional remediation, according to the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, and Restoration Certification (IICRC) guidelines, the affected carpet and padding should be removed from the house ASAP and discarded. The hard floor underneath the carpet can be cleaned and disinfected. New carpet and padding may then be reinstalled.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Carpet Mold?

However, if the water damage was Type 1 or Type 2 from non-toxic sources like a pipe rupture or appliance overflow, and if professional water damage treatment methods are applied before the critical time frame elapses, wet carpets may be saved. Here’s a typical sequence of events utilized to successfully prevent carpet mold:

  • Removing the saturated padding beneath the carpet may be required.
  • Powerful water extractors pull all water from the carpet fibers.
  • Steam cleaners inject anti-microbial solutions and deodorants to kill residual mold.
  • Industrial-grade dehumidifiers and high-volume air movers speed drying.
  • After the floor beneath is disinfected, new padding is installed and the cleaned carpet is replaced.

How to Prevent Carpet Mold After Water Damage

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020

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.

Does a Flooded Carpet Always Have to be Replaced?

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018

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.

Musty Carpet Smells? Ban Them Forever!

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

clean carpet with no smellA clean carpet generally produces no noticeable odor. A carpet with a “history” however—namely, exposure to moisture during a water damage incident—often becomes a source of pungent, musty odors that pervade the entire house.

Ground Zero For Odors

Carpet is a magnet that attracts and retains microscopic airborne mold and mildew spores common in any environment. Carpet also functions as a highly-efficient sponge that absorbs any moisture that occurs. This combo provides almost laboratory conditions for odor-producing microbial growth. Once a carpet becomes wet, active mold and mildew is a fait accompli in less than 48 hours. During that time window, intervention by professionals with specialized water extraction and decontamination equipment can avert growth that causes odors before it happens. If effective water damage and mold remediation techniques aren’t applied, however, persistent carpet odor may be considered inevitable.

Here are some facts about professional techniques to remove musty smells:

  • Utilizing a consumer-grade carpet cleaning machine rarely eliminates established mold or mildew growth nor the odors produced by these microbes. Masking the source of odor with superficial topical deodorants is of little long-term value.
  • High-pressure hot water extraction with deep-flushing tools to remove contamination where it occurs is required for an acceptable, permanent outcome. However, this procedure is usually not sufficient by itself.
  • Effective odor removal also requires injection of an odor neutralizer specifically formulated to remove the type of odor—whether mold, mildew or some other contaminant. Technicians performing the work must be trained and qualified to identify the source of odor in order to select an effective neutralizer. One formula doesn’t work for all types.
  • Carpet may need to be detached from tacking strips and lifted to flush and apply odor neutralizers to the underside of the carpet, the padding, as well as the surface of the sub-floor.
  • In some cases, mold- or mildew-contaminated carpeting does not respond to professional odor removal techniques. In that event, the most economically viable option is removal of the affected carpeting from the house and replacement with new carpeting.

Does Water Damaged Carpeting Need To Be Replaced?

Tuesday, September 12th, 2017

water damaged carpetWater damaged carpeting is almost a given whenever a large quantity of water from any source inundates a home. A carpet and the pad beneath act like highly efficient sponges that readily absorb and retain water. In addition, carpeting is ground zero for dormant mold spores that penetrate deep into the fibers, awaiting only contact with water to trigger into active growing mold. Given these facts, is it always possible to save water damaged carpeting.

Potential sources of water damage

A lot depends on the source of water that has soaked the carpet:

  • Clean water – Water directly from a ruptured supply pipe or water heater inside the home is the best-case scenario for successful carpet restoration. In some cases, rainfall leaking into the house may also be considered clean. If the issue is addressed in a timely manner and professional techniques are applied, most carpet affected by clean water can be saved. Today’s powerful water extractors can even pull water out of the carpet and the padding below without removal of either. Disinfectants can interrupt nascent mold growth before it becomes established.
  • Gray water – This originates from sources like an overflowing washing machine, dishwasher, or soapy bath or shower water from a broken drain. A carpet soaked with gray water is considered mildly contaminated, which is usually not a deal-breaker for restoration. However, the following caveat applies: if too much time elapses before professional treatment begins, growing bacteria and other toxins may convert carpeting into a more highly contaminated material. At that point, carpet affected by gray water may not be a good candidate for restoration. Evaluation by a qualified water damage professional is required.
  • Black water – This refers to raw sewage, outdoor floodwater, or any water contaminated by dangerous chemicals. Carpet soaked by black water is a health hazard and you don’t want it in your house. It should be stripped out (along with the pad beneath it) and properly disposed of. Additionally, the subfloor underneath will need to be disinfected and dried before installing new carpet.

Ask the professionals at Rytech for more answers about water damaged carpeting.


Signs You Have Carpet Mold after Flooding

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

carpet mold damageCarpet mold after flooding is a frequent complication. Dormant airborne mold spores settle out of the air into the fibers of carpeting. Carpets are also a magnet for accumulation of microscopic organic matter that provides food for mold growth. The final element is water exposure. Carpeting — and the padding beneath it — acts as a sponge that absorbs and retains water long enough to activate dormant spores and trigger growth of toxic mold.

Carpet that has remained damp and untreated for 48 hours should be considered a prime suspect for mold growth. How do you know that carpet mold after flooding may be a factor in your home?

  • Visible growth. Mold tends to spawn deep in the carpet pile where it’s not easily glimpsed. However, any discoloration or evidence of fungal growth should definitely be investigated further. After water exposure, discoloration in a carpet that might be dismissed as mildew is very likely to actually be mold. If carpet mold contamination has advanced to the point where it’s conspicuous and staining the carpet, the carpet must usually be discarded.
  • Musty smell. You know it when you smell it. That musty odor is a direct consequence of active mold spores multiplying. If water inundation has affected the house and saturated the carpet, mold should be your first and most likely suspect for musty odors.
  • Unexplained allergic responses. Sensitive individuals may develop symptoms rapidly in a home if the carpet harbors mold. This could include sneezing, coughing and eye irritations. Bring any such symptoms to the attention of your physician, first. If you’ve had recent water damage that affected carpeting, also consider the possibility of mold growth.
  • Test Results. A water damage/mold remediation specialist can sample air in carpeted rooms to detect presence of airborne mold spores and determine the best treatment option. Concentration of spores in the air helps the technician determine where the extent of contamination is highest. If suspect mold growth is discovered, it will be physically sampled and lab-tested to verify the type.

Ask the professionals at Rytech for a full evaluation if you suspect carpet mold after flooding.


Can Carpeting Be Saved After a Flood?

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

carpet mold after floodingQuestions about carpet mold after flooding are common because carpet is usually the first casualty of any water inundation in the house. Always located below the water line, the carpet and the padding beneath it basically act as an enormous sponge. The first question is often whether the carpet can even be saved. That depends mostly upon the source of the water that has inundated the house. If it’s clean rainwater or water from a ruptured water supply line, for example, carpet is usually salvageable with professional treatment. If, however, the house has been flooded by a sewage backup, or by localized storm flooding that may carry raw sewage and/or other unknown toxins, the best course is to discard it. Contaminated carpet can pose a permanent household health risk.

Even when affected by water that doesn’t pose a biological hazard, however, carpet mold after flooding is always a concern. Because dormant mold spores exist everywhere and are activated by exposure to moisture, mold growth begins within hours after a flood event. Professional water damage remediation experts will usually utilize some of these methods to prevent carpet mold after flooding:

  • In most cases, the carpeting will be pulled up from the tack strips to expedite drying and the padding beneath discarded—saturated padding is rarely worth saving. Small area carpets that can be removed from the house will be taken outdoors.
  • Using powerful wet/dry vacuums designed for the purpose, residual water will be extracted under high suction from the carpet.
  • Carpeting will be dried utilizing special drying fans that direct high volume of air at floor level across the carpet. Industrial dehumidifiers are also employed to reduce the humidity in the home to levels that promote fast drying. The goal is complete drying within 12 hours to minimize the chance of mold growth.
  • After the carpet is dried, it will be steam-cleaned utilizing formulas that disinfect and kill any latent growing mold. The flooring underneath the carpeting may also be steam-cleaned.

For more about professional services to prevent carpet mold after flooding, contact the water damage experts at Rytech.

6 Steps to Help Avoid Carpet Mold After Your Home Has Flooded

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

avoid carpet moldCarpet mold after flooding can be a done deal unless preventive action is taken ASAP. Carpet already contains the necessary prerequisites for mold: dormant spores that have settled out of the air over time plus an accumulation of microscopic organic particles common in any household. All the mold recipe requires is moisture. The composition of carpet and padding serves as a perfect sponge that absorbs and retains water during a flood. (more…)