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Should Carpet Be Replaced After Water Damage?

Water damage on carpets can sometimes be pretty concerning, but should carpet be replaced after water damage has occurred?

If the water has been allowed to sit for more than 24 hours them mold will begin to grow, at this point you will need to replace your carpet. Furthermore, if the water spillage is from a toilet or burst pipe it will also need replacing.

If the above criteria aren’t met then you can consider thoroughly cleaning the water spillage and your carpet should be okay, but the best option in 99% of large water spillages is to replace the carpet entirely.

Let’s take a look at how exactly you can spot water damage, as well as what differentiates between serious and non-serious water spillage.

How To Spot Water Damage On Carpets

Water damage is particularly harmful because it is extremely hard to spot on a carpet, especially if your carpet is dark coloured. This is the opposite to most other spillages that would usually be much easier to see as they coloured, whereas water is transparent.

If the spillage is particularly big then it should be easy to spot as the entire carpet will appear discoloured and darker than usual. The fibres will also be saturated with water which is a telltale sign that water damage has occurred.

Smaller spillages are much harder to see but are characterised by small darker spots that are saturated, typically caused by spilt drinks.

Factors That Affect Water Damage To Carpets

Not all water damage is the same, and there are quite a few factors to take into consideration when it comes to it. We’ve listed the most important factors below to easily characterise how damaging your spillage is.

Amount Of Time Since The Spillage

The amount of time that the water sits on your carpet directly relates to how long the water has to develop mold.

As we mentioned briefly 24 hours is the standard period of time that water will sit before mold begins to develop. Once mold has started to grow it’s incredibly difficult to reverse the process and ultimately restore your carpet.

Mold can present quite a serious health hazard and should be dealt with properly.

The Type Of Water That Has Spilled

This might seem like a silly question, but there’s a huge difference between regular tap water, rainwater and more importantly sewage or pipe water.

Regular tap water isn’t too big of an issue if it is cleaned up right away, whereas sewage or pipe water will need to be dealt with in a much different way. If you’ve had a burst pipe or leak from a toilet, you’ll have very little option other than to replace your entire carpet.

This is because sewage waste can contain a large range of bacteria and other harmful contaminants that your carpet will not be able to handle, even if your carpet has previously been treated to fight bacteria or fungus growth.

Volume Of  Water

Clearly, there is a large difference between spilling a cup of water on your carpet versus a flood.

Smaller spillages can easily be cleaned up but if your carpet has been completely saturated with water it can be very difficult to restore. This is because of a few reasons:

  • Time – It’s unlikely for a start that a flooded carpet can both be flooded and entirely cleaned up water and debris within 24 hours, which is the limit for mold to start developing. Furthermore, floodwater is likely to contain other contaminants that you simply won’t be able to remove yourself.
  • Damage to the carpet itself – Another thing to consider is that your carpet will likely sustain damage during a flood. This can range from fibre damage or even to the underlay and is something worth thinking about. You might have no choice but to replace it simply from physical damage.

What Are The Most Common Types Of Water Spillages At Home?

The most common type of water spillage is simply a glass or water being accidentally spilt. This is the easiest to treat and shouldn’t cause any problems in the long run, but there are a few other types you might not have considered:


One that we’ve already mentioned but also one of the more common especially in areas that are prone to floodings.

Toilet overflow

Toilets overflowing is usually caused by either a blocked drain, a malfunctioning float or a blocked vent pipe that causes air to be repalced after flushing. It can lead to a significant amount of water spillage that, more importantly, is full of contaminants that will need to be professionally dealt with.

Roof Leakages

Roof leakages are very common especially in older buildings and can allow large amounts of rainwater to build up and seep through your roof. Rainwater can be removed swiftly without much further action as it does not contain as many contaminants, but it will still develop mold over 24 hours.

Burst Pipes

Burst pipes occur most commonly due to freezing in the winter months and can cause a massive amount of water spillage and damage to your home. If this happens you need to contact your local authority as soon as possible and try to remove as much water as you can. Unfortunately, a burst pipe is a case of preventing as much damage as you can, which will prove to be very difficult until you get professional help.

Dishwasher or washing machine faults

Sometimes a dishwasher or even a washing machine can have faults that can lead to water spillages.

Unless there is a serious problem the spillage should be relatively contained, however, the water – especially from dishwashers – can contain a range of foods that will act as a hive for the growth of mold and bacteria.

How To Get Water Out Of Carpet

The best method for getting water out of the carpet is to first make a solution with equal parts warm water to white vinegar.

Once you’ve made this solution use a clean and dry cloth to apply the solution to the water spill, and gently press on the stain with the cloth. Once you’ve treated the entire stain then leave it to dry.

The vinegar will work to pull the water out of the stain and after the drying period, you won’t be able to notice that there was a spillage in the first place.

Larger spills such as flooding can obviously not be treated in this way and would require professional assistance in most cases.

Other Damages From Water Spillage

Water spillages don’t only cause damage to your carpet and carpet pad – the extent of the damage can actually be much greater than just that.

Furniture is one of the more common items to be damaged as a result of water damage, alongside a few other things:

  • Electronic Appliances are particularly vulnerable to any water damage, especially things like tv’s, speakers and vacuum cleaners that could all be found in a room with carpet.
  • Baseboards and trims are adjacent to the floor and will take a lot of damage in larger water spills such as flooding. As such, these will likely need to be replaced in such an instant.
  • Drywall can also be damaged easily depending on the extent of the spillage and how long it has been left to sit for. If your baseboards and trims have any gaps, which is highly likely, the drywall behind is susceptible to damage as well.
  • Miscellaneous personal items that were left lying around are likely to sustain damage as well.

Remember that a carpet can only hold so much water and eventually it will find its way into any other structures around. The higher up something is in your room the more likely it will be saved in the case of a flood.

Health Hazards From Water Spillages

Once mold has started to develop in your carpet it can lead to a wide variety of health-related issues, particularly with people who have allergies or who are particularly sensitive to mold.

Mold can not only create a lingering odour but exposure can lead to respiratory issues, fever and even shortness of breath.

Always think twice before you decide to dry a water damaged carpet because it can be almost impossible to see any mold developing.

Does Insurance Cover Water Damage To Carpets?

Most home insurance will come with some type of cover for water damage, but the extent of the cover will vary between different insurance companies.

It also depends on how exactly the damage has occurred. For example, a fault with an electronic appliance will likely not be included as home insurance but rather insurance for the appliance itself.

If a pipe has burst then some companies will only pay for the source of damage to be fixed and not the damage to your house, it really does vary a lot between insurance providers.

From our research, it seems that carpets specifically are highly unlikely to be included in insurance covers, and even if they are it might prove difficult to actually claim for it as the responsibility for the water spill can be disputed easily.

Final Thoughts

In most cases, a significant water spillage will require your carpet to be entirely replaced. Be sure to check your insurance policy to see if you are eligible to claim back any of the costs, although this might prove very difficult to do.

Smaller spillages can easily be cleaned up provided they are from relatively clean water sources.