You probably already know that mold frequently grows in basements, behind walls, in bathrooms and behind refrigerators. But in the carpet? Is it really possible that the surface you walk on every day could be infested with harmful mold spores?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) names carpet as one of the places in your home or business where mold can (and often does) grow. When this happens, the risks to your health and property are high.
The good news is that you can take steps to prevent mold from infesting your carpet—and if an infestation does occur, it’s might be possible to remove it completely without having to replace the carpet.
Why does mold grow in carpet?
In order to grow, mold has only three basic requirements. It needs air, it needs a source of moisture, and it needs something to feed/grow on. In terms of carpet, the key variable is moisture. Keep your eyes peeled for carpet mold if any of the following three conditions are met:
You have carpeting in the basement or any room that is below ground
Your local climate is very damp or moist area
Your carpet has sustained water damage
Give enough moisture, the fibers and padding that comprise most common carpets are perfect for mold growth.
What about prevention?
All mold prevention—including the prevention of carpet mold—begins with understanding the conditions mold needs in order to grow, and making sure those conditions don’t exist. In terms of carpet mold, you can:
Use appliances like ventilators and dehumidifiers to decrease moisture in carpeted rooms.
Avoid installing carpet in rooms/locations where moisture and humidity are likely, such as bathrooms. Opt for mold-resistant flooring instead, such as tile.
Invest in mold resistant carpeting. Many types of carpet now have stronger padding and anti-microbial materials built in.
If a carpet sustains significant exposure to water (especially standing water), don’t make the mistake of thinking you can have the carpet cleaned and dried, and the problem will be solved. The moisture has sunk deep into the fibers, padding, and floor beneath. The only option is to completely remove the carpet in order to clean and dry it. Depending on the damage, the carpet may not be worth saving. It may also be necessary to carefully check other areas of the home to make sure the colony has not spread.
Be mindful of how you clean your carpet. Professional cleaning with a truck-mounted hot water extraction system is usually considered the gold standard. It deep cleans without saturating your carpet in water. Other methods that expose your carpet to more moisture can increase your risk of mold growth, especially when used frequently.
What to do next
If you think your carpet may be infested with mold—or if you just want to make sure you’re in the clear—it’s relatively easy and affordable to find out. Certified mold inspections are a common, affordable and fast procedure. A qualified specialist will have seen it all, and will know what to look for. If there’s any doubt, scientific lab testing will confirm whether not there’s mold growing in your carpet. That way you can rest easy, knowing that you’re fully aware of any unwanted visitors under your feet.
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