Water is an essential part of any home. It’s used in various ways, including cleaning and cooking; however, when it gets into areas it’s not meant to be in, it can cause a lot of damage to your home, its structure, and your belongings.
Water damage makes your home untidy and musty. The water seeps into the walls, flooring, and other structures affecting their integrity. It also causes increased moisture and dampness that encourage mold proliferation. This mold growth is not only unsightly but also dangerous to your health.
When water damage occurs in your home, water-wicking furnishings such as carpets are often the first places mold grows. Here is how to detect, remove and prevent carpet mold after water damage.
How To Prevent Carpet Mold After Water Damage?
But First, What Causes Water Damage?
Water damage occurs when water gets into places it is not meant to be. This water can come from different sources, such as:
- Leaky or damaged plumbing – a leak in the plumbing system is the most common cause of water damage. Even a one-time leak can cause water damage to your home. The most common reason for leaky pipes is damage due to rusting. However, high weather pressure, weak joints, extreme temperature, and external damage can cause your pipes to leak.
- Faulty appliances – aging appliances such as water heaters and washing machines can cause water damage when malfunctioning. Additionally, faulty water connections and piping can lead to leaks.
- Clogged gutters – these are often blocked by tree leaves, weeds, and grime. Since they can’t properly drain the water, it pools and seeps into the surrounding area. For instance, it can get into your basement and cause mold growth.
- Burst pipes – the most common reason pipes burst is due to temperature and pressure changes. When it gets too cold, water in the pipes solidifies and expands as it turns to ice damaging the pipe. Old, rusty pipes are the most vulnerable, but even newer, poor-quality pipes can be affected.
- Septic tank and sewage backup – your home’s septic tank can quickly fill up during heavy rain. This, in turn, causes the waste to be directed to the tank back up to your house, leading to hazardous water damage.
- Overflows – if you forget to turn off faucets, excess water can overflow, resulting in water damage.
- Malfunctions ACs – your home’s HVAC system works by cooling the air and removing humidity. This excess moisture is redirected to an overflow pan that facilitates water movement to the AC’s condensate line. If this pan gets damaged, the condensate line clogs, causing the AC’s drainage system to malfunction. Rather than disposing of the excess water, it will soak into your floors, walls, or ceilings.
- Adverse weather – heavy rains, storms, hurricanes, or even blizzards can cause water damage even with a functional drainage system. Flood water from these weather conditions can get into your home and cause damage.
What To Do After Discovering Water Damage
After discovering water damage in your home, you must act quickly to prevent mold proliferation and reduce the damage caused. Mold grows fast, and the longer you wait, the more damage it causes.
The first step is cleaning up all the water and drying the area. For instance, if water got into your living room because of a flood, remove as much water and dirt as possible, then thoroughly clean up the area. Then open the windows and use fans to help dry the floors, walls, and furniture. This will help dry up any water seeping into the home’s structure.
If a sewage leak or blocked toilet caused your water damage, you need to be extra careful while cleaning up, as this mess also poses an increased health risk thanks to the pathogenic microbes present. Aside from mold, other pathogenic bacteria and microbes can get transferred to the rest of your home. Make sure to use antibacterial cleaning agents and disinfectants to sanitize the area. If the mold infestation has grown quite large, consider hiring professionals to eliminate it.
Next, focus on cleaning up any affected furniture and furnishings, such as carpets.
How To Detect Mold In Your Carpet
Carpets, like any home surface, are susceptible to mold. Since mold spores can grow practically anywhere, a wet carpet is a great breeding spot. So how can you determine if you have mold growing on your carpet fibers?
Types of Household Mold
There are over 300000 mold species, and most are benign to humans or cause slight allergic reactions. The most common indoor mold species include Penicillium, Aspergillus, Alternaria, and Stachybotrys Chartarum. The latter is also known as black mold, thanks to its dark green slimy appearance. This mold looks like black blots or spots growing in irregular circular patterns.
It is commonly found in household surfaces with excessive humidity due to water damage. For instance, you might find black mold in your basement carpet, especially after a leak or flooding. The mycotoxin it produces makes black mold so dangerous, which can cause several respiratory issues.
Detecting Carpet Mold
If you recently had water damage, you might be wondering if your carpet could have mold growing in it. Here’s how you can tell.
Look for obvious signs of mold, such as stains or spots with fuzzy or slimy fungus growing. Mold can be black, green, purple, white, or orange and vary in size. The mold patch can be raised, forming thick layers.
- A strong, pungent, musty odor is coming from the carpet.
- An underlying source of water causes dampness.
- Symptoms such as eye and nose irritation or sneezing can also indicate a mold infestation.
Carpet Restoration: How To Remove Mold From Carpet
Finding mold on your carpet and carpet padding is terrible enough; however, finding black mold can be more unnerving as it’s much more dangerous than other strains. That said, you can remove black mold by yourself since you can kill it using distilled vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, bleach, or borax.
Once you address the root cause of the dampness, the next step is getting rid of the visible mold. Most of the time, mold infestation is much worse than you can see. The visible part is the fruiting body of the mold, and the roots are hidden inside the carpet fibers and carpet pad, so simply wiping off the mold won’t get rid of it for good.
Step 1: Wear Protective Gear
Mold spores are microscopic, and once you start working, they will get released into the air and can get into your lungs, eyes, and skin. This will result in irritation or trigger allergic reactions. To prevent this, you must wear protective gear such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, rubber gloves, safety glasses, and a mask such as an N95 or better. Wear old clothes you can throw away in a sealed garbage bag or wash in hot water to kill stray mold spores and prevent mold growth. Make sure you properly ventilate the area you are working in. This would be ideal if you could remove the carpet outside before you start cleaning. However, if you cannot remove the carpet, use fans or the AC to circulate air and keep humidity low.
Step 2: Determine The Size of The Moldy Area
Once your protective gear is on, the next step is figuring out how much mold you have to clean. If the mold covers less than 10 sq ft or a 3 ft x 3 ft patch, you can clean it up yourself. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends getting professional help if the mold colony is larger than that. Similarly, if the damage was caused by sewage or contaminated by it, it’s best to let professionals clean your carpet and home.
Step 3: Remove The Carpet (Optional)
If you can, remove the water-damaged carpet padding and the moldy carpet from your home. Moisten the affected area with clean water to prevent spores from spreading as you move the carpet. Next, carefully roll it up and take it outside. If you cannot lift or remove the carpet, proceed with removing the mold you can see. However, if you remove the carpet or lift it, you can examine the backing to see if it is also infected. If you have a severe mold problem, there’s a high chance the carpet pad will also be moldy.
Since mold is a burrowing fungus, if you have more than a few feet in width growth, consider removing and replacing the backing. This is because the mold issue is probably worse than what you see. However, if you can’t replace the affected section, consider cutting it out and leaving a 12-inch border past the damage before inserting the new carpet and backing.
Step 4: Collect Your Cleaning Materials
The next step is collecting your cleaning supplies. You will need the following:
- A mold-killing solution includes bleach, hydrogen peroxide, distilled white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, baking soda, borax, or a fungicide.
- spray bottles
- A scrubbing brush
- A wet-dry vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
Step 5: Vacuum The Carpet
Before cleaning off the mold, moisten the area and vacuum it to suck up excess debris and mold spores. This will reduce the likelihood of the spores getting airborne and limit your exposure. Make sure you use a wet-dry vacuum with a HEPA filter, as it traps over 99% of the mold spores. It has an anti-allergen seal that ensures the spores don’t escape the vacuum canister and get transferred to other sections of your home. Once you are done, carefully remove the canister’s contents, seal it tightly and dispose of it carefully.
Alternatively, if you don’t have a vacuum with a HEPA filter, you can scrub the carpet with a dry stiff, bristled brush to remove any visible mold. Make sure you scrub the back of the carpet to remove any mold that has burrowed through.
Step 6: Clean The Mold
Now, determine what mold-killing solution you will apply to the affected area.
- For heavy-duty mold – you can use an antifungal, chlorine bleach, or hydrogen peroxide. The latter solutions can destroy and kill any mold as well as remove the discoloration caused by its growth. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the antifungal solutions. Apply it onto the affected area, let it sit for an hour, and clean up the excess. Ensure to dry the area completely, as the antifungal solution will continue working until it dries. Bleach is a harsh solution, and it can damage fabrics if used in high concentration, so a little goes a long way. Mix a cup of chlorine bleach with a gallon of water. Apply the solution onto the affected area and let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes, then scrub the area with a brush to remove the mold residue.Hydrogen peroxide, on the other hand, is not as harsh as bleach and will take longer to kill mold. Use a bottle of hydrogen peroxide 3-10%and spray it directly onto the mold. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes until the fizzing stops, then scrub off the moldy residue using a brush or wipe it off using a sponge.
- For medium-duty mold removal – use distilled white vinegar. It is a natural solution that can easily kill mold spores thanks to its acidic nature. It acts much slower than hydrogen peroxide and bleach so let it sit for about an hour to kill the mold colonies in your carpet effectively. You can upgrade the vinegar’s cleaning power by using some baking soda or borax or switching to cleaning vinegar rather than household vinegar. It contains 6% acetic acid making it 20% stronger at killing mold.
- For light-duty mold removal – use baking soda or rubbing alcohol. Sprinkle some over the moldy area, leave it overnight and clean it up in the morning.
A word of caution: There are numerous options for mold cleaning agents, however, don’t mix things that don’t go together to create a super strong mold-killing solution. Mixing these solutions with other products can release harmful fumes to your health. For instance, mixing bleach with any ammonia cleaning products releases toxic gas. Additionally, if one solution doesn’t work, rinse the area completely with clean water before applying another mold-killing agent.
Step 7: Dry Wet Carpet
If you are cleaning the carpet outside, leave it in a well-ventilated place to dry off. If you can’t remove the carpet, use a heater, fans, and a dehumidifier to completely dry off the carpet. Let them run for a few days, and the increased heat and low humidity will reduce the likelihood of any spores regrowing soon.
Keep an eye on the moldy sport for the next few weeks to ensure it does not regrow. It can take some time to spot new mold growth, especially if you cannot remove the carpet. So monitor it for over 3 weeks to ensure no new mold colonies reappear. If you spot any mold, follow the cleaning steps to kill it off.
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How To Prevent Mold Proliferation On Your Carpet
According to the EPA, there’s no way to eliminate mold or its spores from your home completely. The most you can do is prevent creating the right conditions to cause mold growth. You can do this by controlling moisture levels in your home and increasing air circulation.
Even if you eliminate mold from your carpet, putting it in a damp, poorly ventilated room will result in its recurrence. The only permanent mold elimination remedy prevents its growth in the first place. Here are a few ways you can achieve this.
- Control indoor moisture levels – keep the indoor humidity levels between 30 and 50%. This dry environment will kill off and stop mold growth, even in densely knit carpets. You can use a dehumidifier or AC to keep your humidity low and protect the hardwood flooring and carpeting.
- Perform regular maintenance on your appliances – regularly service and check on any appliances that use or collect water.
- Vent moisture-generating appliances outside to prevent moisture build-up.
- Install moisture barriers in areas prone to dampness, such as basements.
- Regularly inspect and repair your plumbing to prevent leaks and water damage.
- Regularly vacuum and steam clean your carpet to keep mold at bay. The heat from the steam can help kill off any spores.
Dealing with mold requires quick action to stop the spores from spreading throughout your home. A moldy carpet makes the perfect breeding ground for mold and can lead to reinfestation if you don’t permanently eliminate it. These at-home mold treatments are a great way to deal with carpet mold and limit its proliferation after water damage. If you discover a large black mold infestation, make sure to contact mold remediation experts to help eliminate it from your home. They can easily clean your moldy carpets and prevent its spread, helping restore it to its former appearance.