It might not be obvious after a typical water damage incident, but a wet carpet alone isn’t a major issue. By itself, a thoroughly saturated carpet will actually retain only a few ounces of water per square foot. Unfortunately, there’s more than carpeting covering your floor and it’s the padding beneath the carpet that’s the main problem.
An absorbent sponge, capable of retaining multiple gallons of water for an extended time period, soaked carpet padding exacerbates damage and complicates successful drying of a wet carpet.
Can both carpet and the problematic padding beneath it be rescued after an indoor water damage incident? Two variables are the major factors in whether or not a wet carpet and padding are good candidates for salvaging following water damage:
Origin of the Water
All water damage is not equal. Where it comes from matters when it comes to rescuing a wet carpet.
- A carpet flooded by a clean source like a broken water supply line that is professionally treated within 24 to 48 hours after the event can usually be successfully dried in place along with the padding underneath.
- Category 2 water (so-called “gray water”) from mildly toxic sources like an overflowing washing machine or dishwasher typically necessitates replacement of the padding while the carpet itself can be cleaned, disinfected, and re-installed.
- A wet carpet soaked by Category 3 “black water” from a sewage backup or outdoor flooding is non-salvageable and must be discarded and replaced along with the padding beneath.
Elapsed Time Since Water Damage
A carpet collects dormant bacteria and airborne mold spores that require only moisture plus time to activate and begin spreading contamination. If a wet carpet is professionally treated within the critical 48-hour timespan, and proven decontamination techniques, along with technology like high-powered water extractors are utilized, both carpet and padding may be rescued before mold growth occurs. If not, carpet mold contamination is presumptive and usually requires removal and disposal of the padding, then anti-microbial treatment of the carpet as well as installation of new padding.