Whether it's due to a flooded washing machine or a burst pipe, large quantities of water will cause water damage to your carpets. Compared to other types of flooring such as laminate, carpets can withstand standing water without suffering permanent damage. Your carpet padding may need to be replaced, but the fibers and backing will suffer no permanent damage as long as they are dried quickly.
The main risk of water damage to your carpet is mold. When your carpet fibers, backing, padding or subfloor get wet, it provides a perfect medium for mold to grow. Mold can exacerbate allergies and cause respiratory distress for you and your family. In addition, it's very expensive to remove mold once it has set in. By drying your carpet immediately after water damage has occurred, either by yourself or by hiring a professional water damage restoration company, you minimize your risk of mold.
Dry & Disinfect Your Carpet Fiber & Backing
The quickest way to dry your carpet fibers and backing is to use a wet/dry vacuum to remove as much water from the carpet as possible. Dilute oxygen bleach in water, following the manufacturer's instructions, and spray a light layer onto your carpet. This helps inhibit any mold growth in the carpet fibers. Follow this by running high-powered fans in affected rooms to circulate air and speed the drying process. Carpet fibers don't absorb much water and carpet backing is nonporous, so carpet dries quickly.
Remove Your Carpet Padding Immediately & Don't Reinstall Water-Damaged Padding
Carpets are sometimes installed over a layer of carpet padding. This makes walking on the carpet more comfortable and helps to extend the lifetime of the carpet by providing underlying support.
However, the most common types of carpet padding (foam and rolled fiber) will soak up standing water like a sponge. The good news is that this helps prevent water damage to the subfloor and the drywall surrounding the floor, since much of the water will be absorbed by the padding. The bad news is that it's nearly impossible to fully dry these types of carpet padding—you'll need to pull up the carpet and removed the water-soaked padding immediately to prevent mold.
Rubber carpet padding is rare due to its expense, but it doesn't absorb water. You should still remove the padding and dry it separately from the carpet to ensure everything is dried quickly before mold has a chance to begin growing. This allows you to inspect the subfloor and baseboards for water damage, as well.
Dry Carpet Quickly to Prevent Delamination
Although the most serious risk of carpet water damage is mold, a carpet that's glued to the subfloor (or attached to tack strips that are glued to the subfloor) can delaminate if the glue is exposed to water for a long period of time. The water causes the glue to break down, causing the carpet to pull away from the floor at the edges of the room and at any seams in the carpet. If this happens, you'll have to reattach the carpet or tack strips to the subfloor using more carpet adhesive.
Rapidly drying the carpet after it has been exposed to water will reduce the risk of both mold growth and carpet delamination. Work quickly to remove standing water or immediately call a water damage restoration company such as Puroclean Certified Restoration Specialist.