Water Damage to Carpet


If you have experienced water damage to carpet in your home, you are probably concerned about how to clean it up and whether the carpet can be salvaged or must be replaced. Carpet is a frequent victim to water damage because it is used in so many rooms in the home and especially in areas like the basement, where floods are more likely to occur. Clean up may be possible but you need to act fast. Mold can start growing within 48 hours after water damage occurs, and moldy carpet can’t be saved.

What Happens to Carpet When It Gets Wet

When carpet gets wet, water can quickly soak into the natural and/or synthetic fibers, the carpet base and padding, and the floor below, which makes cleanup of water damage so challenging. As the water permeates each layer it becomes more difficult to remove.

The water can cause delamination by breaking down the glue that holds the carpet together. This contributes to the deterioration of your carpet. If this deterioration allows water to get underneath the carpet itself, then the padding, subfloor or hardwood beneath can all experience water damage, which will be impossible to dry without removing the carpet.

In addition, any water that gets trapped beneath the carpet will create a situation ripe for the growth of mold. Damp and dark settings are ideal for mold to take hold. Once mold gets into the fibers of your carpet, it can no longer be saved and should be removed and replaced.

water damage to carpetWorker removing water damaged carpet

How to Clean Up Water Damage to Carpet

As soon as you notice water damage in a carpeted area of your home, you must work quickly to remove the water and dry the carpet. Start by removing all the water you can by using a wet-dry vacuum such as a Shop Vac or you can rent an extractor or a commercial carpet cleaner. Continue to pull the vacuum over the wet carpet to pull out moisture as long as you can. Towels can also be used to absorb moisture from the carpet as well. After you have removed as much water as possible, set up fans and dehumidifiers to continue to draw moisture out of the carpet and air to avoid mold growth.

If the water damage has happened to an area rug, after you have removed most of the water, roll it up and take it outside to dry in the sun. This will allow you to thoroughly dry the floor under the rug, while the sun's UV rays will kill some of the mold that has begun to form in the rug. HEPA vacuum it before re-installing.

Wall-to-wall carpeting can be pulled up to access the pad underneath by carefully pulling the carpet back from the tack strip along the wall. If the carpet padding underneath is wet, you should remove and replace it. Padding has a sponge-like texture that will resist drying. Keeping the damp pad underneath will allow mold to grow and contribute to a pervasive, musty smell. We encourage you to call the number listed below to get help in dealing with wet carpet, especially if you think the padding is soaked, too. Pulling back damp carpeting and then re-laying dried carpet is difficult to do if you haven’t had experience with it before.

After 48 hours, if you can still see moisture when you press a dry paper towel on the damaged carpet, you will be at high risk of mold growing in and under your carpet. You should plan to remove and replace your carpet at this time. Call a professional for an evaluation of the damage and to start the mold removal process right away.

If your carpet was damaged by outside floodwater, sewage backup or other unsanitary water, do not try to clean it yourself. We recommend that you call a professional to determine if the carpet can be salvaged. A professional will have the proper equipment and cleaners to sanitize your carpet to avoid the growth of bacteria and mold.

The Risks of Water Damage to Carpet

In the event of a significant flood such as from a storm, burst pipe, broken appliance or sewage back up, your carpet cannot and should not be saved. The chances are too great that bacteria and mold will grow in the carpet, no matter what you do to dry it out.

Bacteria and mold are a threat to your health, as they can easily be inhaled or transferred when you come into contact with the carpet, causing infections, allergic reactions, respiratory illness and more. Small children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are at even greater risk of health problems due to exposure to mold.

In addition, if wet carpet traps moisture underneath, the water can soak into the floor or subfloor, which can damage the structural integrity of your home. Water damage can easily create unsafe conditions. Removing and drying the water should always be your priority.

Water damage to carpets, or any other part of your home, should always be taken very seriously. Just because you can’t see the extent of the damage doesn’t mean the problems aren’t there. Always respond quickly to leaks, floods, broken pipes or busted appliances that cause water damage.

How to Get Help

If you experience water damage to carpet in your home, don’t hesitate to call for help. 24-hour assistance is available by calling 877-960-0491. You’ll be connected to a local professional, who can answer your questions and come to your home to start addressing the water damage right away. It is a toll free call, and the home inspection and estimate are free as well.





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