Finding black mold on your carpet can be alarming, especially if it a fixed, wall-to-wall carpet. The following information is about both wall-to-wall carpet and the larger, room sized rugs that cannot be easily cleaned by tossing them in the washing machine. It should be noted that in some cases, there will be no other recourse, but to remove and replace the carpet, especially in the case of extensive flooding or other issues that may cause black mold to grow. For the average homeowner, all mold should be handled with extreme vigilance and care.
So, Your Carpet Is Wet. Now What?
- A wet carpet may not seem to be that big of a deal until you realize that it takes as little as 24 hours for black mold to form and that it can be forming on the padding underneath the carpet way before you ever see it.
- You should assume that if your carpet is wet enough to feel, your padding is soaked as well. The problem with padding is that it is far more absorbent than your carpeting is and may spread the wetness far beyond what you think. The padding under the carpet can extend its wetness several feet away from the original spot and may go unnoticed if the water hasn’t seeped through the carpet’s backing. In other words, wet padding can be far more extensive than you will be able to tell until you start cutting up the carpeting.
- Drying a seriously wet carpet is unlikely to save it. The padding can still be soaked, which will still increase the risk of mold growth.
- Wetness caused by flooding can cause other potentially serious hazards that go far beyond just the possibility of black mold. If your home has received flood damage and you are insured, the insurance company may require that you follow specific steps to protect your family from these hazards. This can include a professional assessment of the damage and immediate removal of all flood damaged items including the carpeting and padding before moving on to the next step. If you live within a flood plain you might be required to carry additional, flood specific insurance. Even if you are not required to do so, it is a good idea. Replacing a carpet can be very expensive, but sometimes it is what needs to be done.
Black Mold Already on the Carpet
- If you find black mold on the carpet, you can assume that it is probably affecting the padding beneath. If the spot is large, you will need to remove the entire carpet and have it replaced. This is best done by a professional, because the carpet must be installed correctly. Having the old carpet removed may also be something that is best handled by a professional as well.
- If the spot is not large and you are okay with the process, you can cut out and remove the affected carpeting and padding, making sure to cut out twelve inches all the way around the affected area. This should eliminate the mold spores in the carpet but could also expose more damage underneath. It’s possible to pull up a small section of the carpet to find that the entire padding has been overgrown. If the smell is very strong, it is likely that this may be the case.
- If the carpet is not fixed in place, such as with a room-sized rug, you may be able to save it. First, take the rug outside by carefully rolling it up and then taking it to an area where it can be laid flat. Inspect the floor underneath the rug for any signs of mold damage or infiltration.
- Figure out where the water was coming from while the rug is out of the house and then take measures to prevent it from happening again.
- Using a mold killer, clean the carpet on both sides. Rinse well and then use a wet vacuum to remove as much of the excess water as possible. Leave the rug to dry outside, making sure that it is completely dry on both sides before bringing it in again. You should also vacuum it thoroughly while it is outside to be sure that you getting rid of all of the mold spores. Beating the rug over a line can be done. However, keep in mind that the mold spores, dust, and other debris will blow, possibly directly back into your house. The wind could also blow this matter right back into your face where you will breathe it in, so take precautions and wear proper protective gear if you choose to do this.
Before Mold Becomes a Problem
- Prevention is always easier and less expensive than dealing with an existing problem. If you suspect that you are having a water problem of any kind, take the time to repair, replace, or install whatever you need to remedy it. Even just a little dampness, such as from high humidity can cause mold to flourish, so always be vigilant.
- Some types of carpets and rugs are more susceptible to mold than others. Natural fibers like wool seem to hold on to every drop of moisture in the air and often take the longest to dry out once they are wet. Remember, once something has become damp it is a breeding ground for mold and other types of growth.
- Molded carpets tend to be particularly unpleasant because they can smell up the entire house. They are also more hazardous to your pets and small children because of the amount of time they spend on the floor.
- Don’t think that you can just vacuum the area and be done. Mold must be tended to immediately and effectively or it can quickly become a nuisance throughout the entire home.