While professionals who specialize in remediation and restoration of dam- aged buildings have seen the growth of hard flooring over the past de- cade, carpet still makes up an extremely large portion of floor finishes. Some flooring experts estimate that as much as 10 billion ft. of carpet is
being added to the U.S. building stock on an annual basis.
Considering that water losses are by far the largest type of insurance claim filed in
the United States (almost 50% of claims as compared to less than 5% of claims for fire
damage), it is no wonder that mold growth on carpets is a common challenge faced by
individuals who are responding to emergencies. Figure 1 shows a typical situation that
can be part of a water loss claim.
A variety of opinions
Despite the prevalence of mold growth on carpet as part of restoration projects, very
little definitive information is available on proper procedures for dealing with such situations. While the internet is full of suggested cleaning methodologies, restoration professionals are held to a higher standard than do-it-yourselfers as they are tasked with
returning the building to a pre-loss condition. In many areas of the country, this has led
to a general mindset that carpet with visible mold growth should be treated as a porous
material to be removed and replaced, rather than a material that can be cleaned.
The basis for the default approach, in which carpet with visible mold should be replaced rather than remediated, comes from the idea that because carpet holds water, it
is a porous material (as described by a number of documents, which contribute to the
industry standard of care).
Many individuals who hold this view focus on the section of the S520 Standard for
Professional Mold Remediation put out by the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and
Restoration Certification (IICRC) that describes porous material as… items that easily absorb or adsorb moisture and, if organic, can easily support fungal growth (section
14. 3. 4. 1).
This same guidance document then goes on to state that: Porous contents with
“Condition 3” contamination is usually unrestorable based on material composition. The
definition section in this document essentially states that any surface with visible fungal
growth is “Condition 3”. Therefore, many restoration professionals automatically classify
carpet with mold as a “Condition 3” porous material.
Does mold growth on flooring always
require the carpet to be replaced?
By Michael A. Pinto CSP, CMP, Wonder Makers Environmental