How late is too late to save my water damaged carpet from bacterial contamination?
We are often asked if carpet that has become wet or damp through flooding or condensation can be saved. In many cases, Insurance has covered some remedial works, for example: hot water carpet extraction or similar method of carpet cleaning. It should be noted that many water restoration damage companies claim that such cleaning methods if done within the first 72hrs will be successful. A scan of the literature soon reveals that this information is wrong. An environmental health study by Holland et al. (2012) looked at what happens to the bacterial counts in the carpet fibres on top and underneath when a piece of 10-year old carpet that had never had any water intrusion was wetted with water and then cleaned according to industry-recommended procedures. The bacterial counts underneath and on top showed that the very act of water intrusion caused permanent increases in bacterial counts regardless of whether the carpet had been cleaned. This means that carpet remediation claims regarding successful carpet sanitation following a flood or water ingress event should be treated with some suspicion based on the results from this study. The authors conclude that the appropriate response time for carpet pad salvage is considerably shorter than the industry recommendation of 72hrs.
Source: Holland, J., Banta, J., Passmore, B., Ayers, M., Abbott, S.P. and Cole, E.C. (2012). Bacterial amplification and in-place carpet drying: implications for category 1 water intrusion restoration. J Environ Health. 74(9): 8-14.