Should water damaged carpets be replaced, or can you clean the damaged areas and salvage your old carpeting? Whenever possible, you should attempt to clean your flooring rather than remove it and replace it. While the cost alone should be motivation enough, you can also consider that reducing waste is environmentally friendly and responsible. However, beyond the savings and environmental motivation, you shouldn’t discard your carpeting because it might be completely unnecessary. Truthfully, not all floods or water damage merit the removal of carpeting. Although, you should probably not come to such a decision on your own because professionals with testing equipment are better suited to provide you with an informed decision. Therefore, while your immediate response might be that rugs and carpets exposed to flooding or water damage should be thrown away, it is necessary to consider the specific situation and the type of floodwater you are dealing with before coming to such a rash decision.
For most clean water damage, carpeting can be cleaned and salvaged, including the padding. However, it is necessary to understand that even water flowing from clean sources will not remain clean for long, especially when left standing. Therefore, if you have a flood caused by a freshwater leak and you get to the cleanup within 24 to 48 hours, then you should be able to salvage the carpeting and the underlay or padding. Any longer than one to two days and you risk the clean water escalating to gray water, which might lead to irreversible contamination, especially when it comes to the padding under the carpet. Therefore, time plays a role in the salvaging of the rug after a clean water leak or flood.
Gray water can evolve from clean water, or it can stem from leaks in other systems. For example, a leaking washing machine can produce contaminated water because of the chemicals used in cleaning clothing combined with the dirt and grime of the fabrics. The same can be said of dishwashers and bathtub or shower basins. However, even carpets that have been saturated by gray water can be salvaged. Although, the padding underneath might need to be replaced, depending on the extent of the saturation and contaminant levels. However, gray water, like clean water, does not stay that way forever. If left to sit for longer than one or two days, the gray water can pick up more contaminants and evolve into black water.
If carpeting has been left to soak in black water for any length of time, it should be replaced. Black water is contaminated with microscopic pathogens and is considered too dangerous for contact. The sources of black water are typically exterior floods or sewage backups. Due to the biological contaminants and the level of contamination, carpeting that is damaged by these water sources is considered irreversible, and it should be removed and replaced, regardless of how long it has been in contact with the water source.
Duration of Flood
The most significant contributing factor to whether you can save your carpeting is how long the water has been left to soak. The typical window for salvaging your flooring material is 24 to 48 hours. However, if you are dealing with a clean water source and there are few other contaminants in the area, then it is possible to push that time slightly. Unfortunately, when dealing with gray water, the closer you can get cleanup to the one day or earlier mark, the better. Although, before deciding on keeping any carpeting after a flood or water damage, it is beneficial to have the water tested and to ask the opinion of an experienced professional.
For minor spills and leaks, it is possible that you can clean up the incident without concern, especially when the water comes from a clean source. However, when the damage involves a broken pipe, flood or standing water, you should only trust the opinion of a professional service, like United Water Restoration Group. These companies have the necessary equipment and skills to test and clean your water disaster, and they will make sure anything that can be salvaged is restored to pre-flood conditions. Therefore, don’t waste time debating the salvage-ability of your carpeting, call someone who knows.