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MOLD: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO MOLD
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STAINS & FINISHES, INTERIOR
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THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
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VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
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WALL FINISHES INTERIOR
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WOOD FLOOR DAMAGE
Inspection & test procedures for moldy or smelly indoor carpeting & rugs. This article describes how we inspect, test, and cure moldy carpeting or rugs. We discuss the risk of hidden mold under carpeting and in carpet padding.
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While you may see mold on carpeting in unusually severe cases, carpet, especially wall-to-wall carpeting can be a reservoir for hidden mold, mite fecal, pet dander, rodent dander, fecals, and dust, bacteria, and other allergens, pathogens, and irritants even though you cannot see anything suspicious on the carpet. Here are some warning signs that carpeting may be an IAQ problem source in a building:
How to Look for Hidden mold in or underneath wall to wall carpeting and carpet padding
Advice for Testing Indoor Carpeting for Mold Contamination
If carpeting has been wet and was not dried within about 24 hours after that event, it is likely to be moldy. if carpeting smells or looks moldy it also will almost certainly need to be replaced. But what if we don't know a carpet's history, we don't see mold on the carpet nor on it's underside, but we need to test the carpeting for mold?
Details of our advice on testing carpeting for mold or other contaminants can be read at CARPET TEST PROCEDURE.
In addition to taking a careful case history of the leak exposure to which carpeting has been exposed, and in addition to making a thorough olfactory (subjective smell test) and visual (by eye) inspection, we on occasion test carpeting using a vacuum method, combining a vacuum pump with a sampling cassette.
Selection of the area of carpet to be tested is important: choose the most-suspect area of carpeting such as where leaks or water are likely to have been present or where there may have been cross-contamination from mold remediation in other areas of the building.
We advise against use of tape samples of a carpet upper surface to screen carpeting for mold since there is a significant risk that such methods will fail to detect problem mold that is in the carpet but not on its uppermost surface. This condition occurs, for example, when moldy carpeting has been HEPA vacuumed or cleaned.
However, if there is mold already visible on a carpet (such as is shown in the next section of this article) it may be appropriate to collect a surface sample using tape in order to identify the type of mold present when that data is needed for medical or post-remediation clearance test purposes.
How to Recognize Mold Visible on Exposed Carpeting Surfaces
In the case of the moldy carpet photo at left, we suspected that the visible carpet mold was the "tip of an iceberg" of hidden mold below.
Details about types of stains on carpeting, their cause, significance, and cure, are at CARPET STAIN DIAGNOSIS.
Watch out: carpets can absorb other odors besides mold. And watch out for over-using ozone treatments that may oxidize building components and lead to a new and horrible chemical like smell.
Should I Test my Moldy Wall to Wall Carpeting?
Question: is a tape sample of my mold-suspect carpeting surface useful?
I took a clear tape sample of some mold on the carpet in my baby's bedroom, but I don't see any visible mold on the sample, even though I pressed fairly hard. Is that ok to send to you, or must I see the mold on the tape? I just don't want to waste anyone's time by sending an insufficient sample. S.P.
Reply: Testing a Moldy Carpet is Usually Not Needed
Thanks for asking. Our suggestions below, basically recommending that you do not have this carpet mold sample processed, are opinions based on ethics (don't peform unnecessary lab tests), and common sense, not out of a reluctance to be of service:
Some exceptions to this no-carpet-test advice / opinion
Continue reading at CARPET FUNGICIDAL SPRAY or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Mold Contamination Testing, Cleanup, Prevention: references & products
OTHER IAQ ISSUES: How To Find and Address Other Indoor Air or Indoor Environment Contaminants Besides Mold
Mold or allergens may not be the only or even the main indoor environmental contaminant. Don't let media attention to mold cause so much enviro-scare fear that other, possibly more urgent hazards go un-addressed.