Furniture Floating In Flooded House

Do You Need to Replace Water Damaged Carpets?

Water damage is every homeowner’s worst nightmare. You might be imagining a freak flooding incident caused by a rainstorm or a burst mainline beneath the foundation flooding water into every room.

Accidents like that do happen. But water damage doesn’t have to be so dramatic, and it often isn’t.

Small leaks from poorly fitted pipes within the walls, outmoded infrastructure in an old apartment building or house giving way to time, and gradual damage caused by subterranean root growth can all damage your carpet seriously enough that you’ll need to rip it up and replace it.

Carpets don’t need to be entirely replaced every time there’s water damage to a home. There are many interventions you can take before it gets to that point.

This guide will explain what you need to know when your carpet suffers water damage, what steps to take to protect your health, and how All Dry USA can be of service each step of the way.

Do You Need To Replace Carpets After Water Damage?

If you’ve suffered water damage to your carpets after a flood or leak, don’t panic. The first thing you can do is quite simple — look at the affected area.

If you can see staining and damp spots around the baseboards, up the backs of furniture, or elsewhere, good. Water damage isn’t ideal, but repair will be easier if you can spot it before it really sets in. Time is of the essence with water damage, so if you step on a slightly damp area or smell anything off, don’t wait to inspect.

Unfortunately for homeowners, water damage is one of the sneakiest and (pun intended) most slippery kinds of damage that can happen to homes.

Water can travel quickly and invisibly, seeping imperceptibly beneath carpets and pooling along baseboards or draining to the rooms’ centermost point. A leak from the ceiling on the second floor, for instance, can run in thin, translucent streams down the walls, seep into tiny cracks between the flooring and the walls, and drip down to carpet on the ground floor damaging it slowly but surely over time.

Whether the damage is extensive or contained, All Dry USA’s water damage and mold remediation specialists abide by the following rules of thumb.

When To Replace Water-Damaged Carpeting

If you’ve never had your carpet torn up or replaced, you may be unaware of the several possible layers of carpet and additional flooring beneath the surface. Even if there’s water damage at the bottom-most layer, you need to take the potential risks seriously.

Our experts abide by the 72-hour rule: If your carpet has been wet for 72 hours or longer, you should talk to us about replacing it. Every home, every carpet, and every leak is different, so discretion should be applied before a decision is made. But with water damage, the risks travel outward fast and increase in seriousness at a rapid pace.

The 72-hour rule comes from the fact that mold generally takes no more than 72 hours to spread. Once mold has set in, not only is your health at risk, but the fix just doubled in scope.

Once you become aware of potential water damage to your carpeting, you should schedule an inspection at your soonest availability. Remember that quickness is key. The sooner you locate and plug the leak, the sooner you can stop water-damaged carpets from turning into costlier, more time-intensive fixes like foundational repair and mold remediation.

You may also want to consider how old and in what condition your carpet is. All the time and money spent on cleaning and treating your carpet may not be worth it if your due for re-carpeting any way. Pulling up carpeting to address water-logging in the deeper layers of flooring can damage and outright destroy old carpet, so consider the process from an investment angle before you make a final decision.

Red Vacuum On Carpet

What Are the Health Risks of Water Damaged Carpet?

The practical and financial concerns related to water-damaged carpets are important to consider. But your first concern should be the significant number of threats leaks and standing water pose to health and safety.

The number one offender is mold, but studies on the effects of being in damp indoor spaces have found that upper respiratory illnesses, nose and throat symptoms, cough wheeze, and asthma symptoms can all be exacerbated by dampness exposure with or without mold.

Additional threats to health and safety include the risk of your home becoming a mosquito breeding ground due to the presence of standing water, skin problems such as rashes and excess itchiness that can arise, and complications to pre-existing conditions like tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis.

Mosquitos make their homes on stagnant pools of water, laying their eggs directly onto the water or outside of water, where eggs can survive for years without hatching. After being exposed to water, the hatching process begins and will usually complete within 72 hours (another reason to abide by the 72-hour rule!)

The health and sanitary risks mosquitoes pose to humans are well known, from malaria to infection at the puncture site. They’re hard enough to avoid outside, where stagnant pools of water as small as a half dollar can be impossible to spot. But you certainly don’t want them inside your home.

If standing water has caused a mosquito infestation, it’s recommended to spray an EPA-certified repellent that contains DEET to prevent re-infestation. All Dry USA’s leak detection services go a long way toward protecting homeowners from mosquito infestation.

How To Avoid Carpet Mold After Water Damage

Mold is a catch-all term for fungi that sprouts and spreads under specific dampness, warmth, and shade conditions. Mold spores pollinate the air and can get highly dangerous for those living with respiratory conditions.

Pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma and COPD can trigger and worsen in the presence of mold, and it can even cause breathing problems like pneumonia and bronchitis. These conditions can go from temporary, to protracted, to chronic in a matter of weeks if mold isn’t effectively treated.

All Dry USA’s mold remediation specialists are trained and certified to inspect homes and remove all traces of hazardous mold from even the most cramped and unreachable places.

What To Do After Discovering Water-Damaged Carpets

Quickness is key. The second you notice a leak or other potential source of water damage, assess the damage as best you can yourself. It’s always a safe bet to call in All Dry USA experts to inspect the carpet and advise you.

No matter the extent of the damage, water extraction must occur, and all dampness needs to be dried out. You should assess what carpets, rugs, furniture, and other decor can be salvaged and what may already be corrupted by mold or other hazardous health risks. Then, follow these three steps:

1. Extract all the water you can by yourself.

Several tools can be invaluable for this process, such as wet vacuums and water extraction machines.

  • Wet vacuums, or Wet/Dry Vacs, are bulky yet portable suction devices that consist of a central canister on wheels and a series of hose attachments for different interior spaces. They are designed to safely extract and deposit liquids into airtight buckets that make for easy disposal. They’re also your cheapest, most user-friendly bet.
  • Commercial grade flood extractors and water removal equipment are big and expensive options, but they are extremely effective. If there’s even the idea of water in or under your carpet, these tools will absolutely decimate it. They’re what all working water damage specialists use, so if you think you need it, you might want to contact one.

2. Thoroughly ventilate the room.

Open all windows and doors to get cross breezes going, which will accelerate the drying process. Floor fans and dehumidifiers can help, but nothing works like fresh air and sunlight.

This process can stretch on for a long time, and if you work from home, all the air and noise can be distracting. Consider temporary alternative housing options if you’re going this route.

3. Smell that?

You might be able to extract all the water that damaged your carpet, but the odor it leaves behind is another story. There are various household remedies for water damage-related carpet odors, from white vinegar solutions to baking soda, which has an amazing odor neutralizing ability.

Walk down the cleaning product aisle of any supermarket, and you’ll see dozens of commercial solutions, many of which promise “extra strength” and “fast-acting” but work about as well as what’s under the kitchen sink.

After you’ve extracted, ventilated, and deodorized, you’ve exhausted all the options an unlicensed layman has at hand. But even if your carpet looks and smells brand new again, it’s worthwhile to invest in a post-treatment inspection from All Dry USA.

It’s not uncommon for floods to be caused by septic and sewage overflow. No amount of wet vacuuming and ventilating will remove the smells and staining from that kind of water damage. It’s also the only way to inspect for mold, which can be dangerously hard to spot.

Can You Fix a Water-Damaged Carpet Yourself?

You can attempt to fix a water-damaged carpet yourself, but should you? Given the 72-hour clock that begins counting down once water interacts with carpeting, being able to completely rid your home of water damage and mold spread solo is difficult.

In the case of slow leaks and other imperceptible sources of water damage, once you discover the affected carpet, it’s likely already too late. It’s not just your carpet at stake, but the flooring layers beneath the carpet and the structural integrity of the home’s framework itself.

If you’re the victim of a flash flood or other types of flooding, treating the damage yourself can be next to impossible. Our advice… don’t. Call the pros.

Final Thoughts — Know When to Call for Help

Water damage to carpeting is an unfortunately common ordeal that many homeowners must deal with at some point.

However, personal, off-the-shelf water extraction, ventilation, and deodorant technology have become increasingly accessible to the average consumer.

You can save time and money with DIY approaches, but the fact is that water damage is like a spiderweb — everything it touches, it tangles in its web.

The bottom line is that nothing beats calling in the water damage and mold remediation specialists at All Dry USA. All-encompassing professional treatment is the only way to fully ensure your family is safe, happy, and healthy following water damage to your carpet.

Ben Suiskind
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