December 24, 2019

Do You Need to Replace Carpets After Water Damage?

Water damage is catastrophic for a homeowner, as even small flooding from a burst pipe or overflowing bathtub often results in damage to a home’s framework and eventual mold growth. A home might also suffer from a musty, mildew smell long after floodwater recede! There is also the cost involved in cleaning and replacing items after water damage, which causes many homeowners to wonder if they need to replace carpets and other such items.

If a carpet has been wet for 72 hours or longer, consider replacing it and especially if it has added layers of padding underneath. Mold often takes no longer than 72 hours to form and spread, and can be difficult to clean thoroughly after that time. However, a professional water damage restoration company can often salvage carpets with proper cleaning.

There is no cut-and-dried timeframe for when you want to consider replacing rather than cleaning carpets and upholstered furniture after a flood. However, you might consider some vital information about water damage restoration and flood cleanup, as well as fire damage restoration, so you know the best method of returning your home to a like-new condition! Be sure to discuss these options with a water damage restoration company near you, as they can offer helpful advice and tips on how to restore your home in particular.

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Should You Replace Carpets After Water Damage?

Before you start pulling up carpets or head out to rent a shop vacuum to extract floodwaters on your own, note some vital reasons to call a water damage restoration company for help. This can also help you determine if you should replace carpets after water damage or if rugs, upholstered furniture, and other materials and surfaces around your home are salvageable.

  • Homemade tips and solutions such as adding baking soda to wet carpets and blotting with fresh towels are usually insufficient for ensuring carpets are cleaned and dried thoroughly.
  • A shop vacuum is also typically ineffective at removing water underneath carpeting and its underlying padding, and for water absorbed by a home’s subflooring, drywall, and wall studs.
  • Pulling up carpets allows the underside to dry thoroughly and ensures that floorboards and padding also dry completely. Pulling up rugs also allows you to inspect and examine them for mold, mildew, and other growth.
  • Once carpet padding has dried onto the home’s subflooring and begins to crumble, it often needs replacing.
  • Removing water from carpeting is also insufficient for ensuring you avoid mold growth and other long-term damage. Instead, it’s vital that you remove excess humidity and moisture from the air and from a home’s subflooring. Water damage restoration contractors monitor humidity levels after a flood and ensure all excess water is removed as needed.
  • Many homeowners make the mistake of leaving behind excess water after cleaning their home’s carpeting, which leads to an even greater risk of mold growth! A flood restoration contractor ensures all rinse water is removed and carpets are as dry as possible after cleaning.
  • Even after a thorough cleaning, you might notice lingering odors. Carpet deodorizers you purchase at home improvement stores often just mask these odors rather than eliminate them, while professional odor elimination removes those smells entirely.
  • Since it’s typically recommended that you pull up carpets to inspect the home’s subflooring for water damage, you might simply replace damaged or flooded carpet padding rather than the carpet itself. This offers a clean and dry surface along those floorboards and less risk of trapped moisture and resultant mold growth. New padding might also offer added thickness underfoot, for great comfort and sound insulation!

Tips for Avoiding Carpet Mold After Water Damage

Before you assume that carpets needs replacing after water damage or that mold growth is inevitable, you might note some tips for avoiding carpet mold after a flood, burst pipe, or other such incident in your home. It’s also helpful to note safe ways of removing water and cleaning those carpets and other areas of the home, without making water damage and resultant mold growth worse!

  • Be sure you stop water at its source! Don’t assume that because floodwaters are not rising that they’re receding or that the source of a flood has stopped. Close off entryway doors with rolled-up towels to stop outside floodwaters and turn off water valves inside the home to stop water from burst pipes and other plumbing fixtures.
  • While it’s good to increase air circulation around damp areas, avoid using strong fans that might blow dirty or contaminated water into other areas of the home. Open windows in the flooded room but keep doors closed as much as possible, to contain that water and any resultant mold growth. Aim fans out those open windows.
  • Use heavy-duty dehumidifiers in the area and empty them often. This will remove excess water without circulating it.
  • Keep carpeting pulled up even after floorboards and the underside of that carpet is dry to the touch. This ensures that the carpet, padding, floors, and other surfaces are dry completely, reducing the risk of mold growth.
  • Use sanitizing solutions to clean drywall and baseboards, to kill mold developing behind the walls and along drywall, and to keep germs and bacteria from spreading to other areas in the home.
  • Never use your everyday vacuum cleaner on damp carpeting as this only gets the inside of the vacuum wet, creating the risk of mold and mildew inside that appliance! Use a shop vacuum to remove residual water and ensure carpeting is fully dry before using your home’s vacuum cleaner.
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Mistakes to Avoid When Cleaning Your Home After Water Damage

The best choice a homeowner can make for ensuring their house is clean and pristine after a flood or other water damage is to call a water damage restoration company near you! Even if you do rely on a professional for water damage cleanup and restoration, you might still note a few mistakes to avoid after a flood, spill, or other such accident in the home.

The first tip is to avoid using products that simply mask odors. You might be tempted to spray air fresheners or use scented carpet products but a musty or mildew smell is often a sign of mold and mildew underneath the carpet; covering over that smell can mean ignoring growing and developing mold! Have a professional inspect the carpets and underlying padding for damage and mold growth and then apply an odor neutralizer if needed.

It’s also good to avoid using vinegar on carpet stains or areas of water damage. Vinegar often leaves behind an unpleasant, acidic scent that lingers for weeks if not longer! Plain baking soda helps to absorb some small spots of water damage, but for larger areas of pooling water and especially if the water looks and smells dirty, it’s better to rely on a professional.

How to Avoid Water Damage in the Home

The best way to keep carpets clean and ensure you avoid mold growth is to stop floodwaters before they even start! To keep outside floodwaters from entering the home, roll up towels and push them up against the bottom of entryway doors. Burst pipes are a common cause of inside floods, so be sure you leave a faucet dripping during cold winter months so that water doesn’t freeze and expand inside a plumbing pipe.

Overflowing bathtubs and toilets are also a common reason for needing water damage cleanup in a home. If your home suffers from persistent clogs in the bathtubs, showers, and toilets, have a plumber clean out the pipes or inspect them for damage. Cracked pipes outside the home allow dirt and other debris to settle inside, leading to clogs and overflowing fixtures, while a buildup of “gunk” along interior pipes also results in persistent clogs.

Homeowners often don’t realize that fire damage also leads to water damage in a home, simply due to the copious amounts of water used to extinguish a blaze! Use caution if you smoke inside your home and while using the kitchen’s stovetop. It’s also vital to ensure your fireplace chimney is clean and that everyone in the home exercises caution when using the fireplace.

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Related Questions

Why does a carpet smell bad after cleaning?

If you’ve cleaned your home’s carpets after water damage but notice a bad odor, you might have left behind some rinse water or detergent. Bad odors also typically signal mold or mildew growth. A professional water damage restoration contractor can clean carpets thoroughly and apply odor neutralizers, for a hygienic home that smells fresh and clean!

What is mold remediation and how is it different than mold cleanup?

Mold remediation refers to monitoring an area for factors that increase the risk of mold growth; mold cleanup removes excess mold after it forms. Mold remediation after water damage cleanup helps to stop mold from forming and spreading and avoid the expense of cleanup and repairs.

Why is a carpet lighter after water damage cleaning?

Professional water damage restoration removes layers of dirt and grime left behind after a flood, including dirt, mud, and dust already trapped in the carpeting! A home’s carpets might then appear lighter simply because they’ve been restored to their original color, not because the cleaning has dyed their fibers or otherwise changed their appearance.

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