From Water Damage to Normal Wear & Tear, Here’s How to Know Whether to Repair or Replace Your Old Carpet
Whether you’ve been in your house for years or you’re moving into a previously occupied one, few factors should be of greater importance than the state of your flooring. It’s not only the foundation for the look and feel of each room and critical subfloor protection but also the place on which you and your loved ones will be spending a good portion of each day. That’s a lot of walking, playing, eating, and living that your floor has to absorb.
When it comes to wall-to-wall carpeting — as opposed to hardwood or vinyl flooring — the comfort and warmth it provides comes from its soft, flexible fibers which are both its greatest strength and greatest weakness, making it susceptible to damage caused by everything from food spills and pet accidents to regular wear and tear.
If you’re currently dealing with older carpet that’s seen better days or newer carpet with recent physical damage, you’re likely questioning if it’s better to restore it or replace it. As carpeting experts, we’re happy to help you with that decision.
Should You Restore or Replace Your Carpeting?
From deep cleaning to patching, restoration is often the preferable option if the desired results are achievable, and repairing sooner than later is best to prevent more-expensive damage down the road. However, sometimes restoration is neither practical nor possible. On the other hand, total replacement can be costly as well as a big hassle, especially if you have a ton of furniture to move back and forth.
It’s understandable if you’re on the fence; carpeting issues can be tricky. As with any questions you may have about your flooring, feel free to reach out to us for our expert opinion on what steps you should take next. With over 35 years of experience, we at The Carpet Workroom have seen our share of carpet damage and know when it’s best to salvage or scrap it.
For starters, here are examples of the most common problems homeowners face when it comes to wall-to-wall carpeting, along with advice on how to approach them:
Worrisome Water Damage
This isn’t about a spilled beverage or broken vase; we’re talking serious water damage from a major incident like a burst pipe or flooding from a rainstorm — a potential nightmare scenario for homeowners that can require hundreds, if not thousands, to remedy. Should carpet be replaced after water damage or can it be restored? It depends on a number of factors, the most important being how long it has been exposed to water and what is in that water.
Once you notice that your carpet is wet, the first step is to find and cut off the source, then extract that water as quickly as possible. Timing is of the essence, because if you act fast and the water is relatively clean, there’s a decent chance you can save the carpet. Despite many questionable DIY solutions, in these instances, we recommend bringing in water removal professionals to inspect it, extract the water, and restore it if possible.
If the dampness is from an unclean source such as outdoor flooding or septic overflow, the carpet is likely done for, no matter how quickly you catch it. Even if the water is clean, we still recommend replacing carpet that’s been saturated for over 72 hours (three days) because, in that time, mold can begin to grow. Once it takes hold, mold is hard to eliminate, can cause serious health symptoms, and can seep into the rest of your home and create catastrophic structural damage in time. Furthermore, prolonged water exposure can also damage subfloors or create an ideal environment for mosquitoes and other pests.
- From a clean source, caught within 72 hours: RESTORE
- From a dirty source, or any caught after 72 hours: REPLACE
Regular Wear & Tear
Barring sudden trauma like major fire or water damage, indoor carpeting should last anywhere from 5 to 15 years, depending on the quality of materials and level of exposure to wear and tear. While high-quality fabric and consistent care go a long way in prolonging carpet life, time and years of foot and furniture traffic eventually take its toll, as fibers become matted down and lose their shape and comfort.
Cuts, knicks, burns, scrapes, you name it…carpeting takes a lot of physical punishment, and, at some point, you have little choice but to take action rather than rearrange furniture to hide blemishes for the umpteenth time. Still, wear and tear doesn’t always necessitate total replacement.
For instance, if it involves a relatively small section, you can remove torn, worn, or singed fibers and carefully patch just that portion, as long as you have the same or similar looking material to make the switch. For the most seamless and best-looking patching, we recommend a carpet repair specialist.
Meanwhile, even if your carpet appears to be holding up well, the padding beneath it may not be. Providing additional cushion and comfort while also helping reduce noise from creaks and loud footsteps, carpet padding can wear out and no longer deliver the support it initially did. Carpet wrinkles, uneven areas, or a crinkling sound when walking over it are noticeable signs of carpet padding wear.
- Minor, localized wear and tear: RESTORE (patching)
- Extensive wear and tear: REPLACE
Unsafe & Unsightly Irregularities
Besides comfort and style, carpeting also enhances safety, e.g. guarding against falls from slipping. However, when lumps or folds appear because of faulty installation or stretching over time, carpeting can produce, rather than prevent, hazards. Furthermore, bumps and wrinkles aren’t very attractive.
As carpet ages, it often stretches and shifts, creating wrinkles and waves, but, depending on the severity, carpet can be made flat again through restretching for which the use of specialized equipment and techniques is advised. The longer you have carpet that buckles or ripples, the greater the chances that someone can stumble over it and hurt themself or break something.
- Minor, localized irregularities that can be fixed by restretching: RESTORE
- Extensive bulges and folds unable to be stretched back into shape: REPLACE
From messy pets and children to dirty shoes and party fouls — there’s likely a lot of potential mess-makers in your house, and, unless you put newspapers down everywhere, stains are inevitable. Whether a good cleaning, patching, or total replacement is in order depends on what caused the stain and how bad it is.
Coffee, ink, red wine, motor oil, urine, blood (we don’t want to know), and other fluids can be incredibly stubborn, especially if not caught in time or treated correctly. Additionally, using a standard vacuum or using the wrong cleaners can cause further damage. That’s why professional cleaning is typically best in these scenarios.
As with wear and tear, sections where the stain is pesky and unsightly can be removed and patched with the same or similar material. If a stain is too large or the stains have added up over the years, you may be better off just replacing the whole carpet and starting over with a fresh look and feel.
Small stubborn stains that respond to treatment: RESTORE (Cleaning)
Stains on a small section: RESTORE (Patching)
Large, unsightly stains that remain after treatment: REPLACE
Perhaps your floor has experienced one too many spills, pet accidents, or pairs of mud-covered shoes, and it’s begun to stink. You find yourself cleaning it more and more often, while the smell just doesn’t seem to be getting better.
If the smell is coming from a localized section where you’re sure of the cause, patching can again be a solution. But as we’ve covered earlier, if your carpet had water damage at one point, the smell may be coming from mold growing deep within the fibers which may have advanced into your carpet padding and floorboards. Water damage can be insidious, and by the time you smell something wrong, it’s almost certainly too late for restoration.
While regular cleaning can help prevent odor from building up, at some point, your only recourse might be to replace the carpet, padding, and possibly the floorboards to eliminate the smell. Besides, there’s nothing like that new carpet smell.
- Recent unwanted smells in which the causes are known: RESTORE (Cleaning/Patching)
- Persistent smell even after several cleanings: REPLACE
- Worn-out padding: REPLACE
Chances are that if your carpet was installed in the last millennium, the wear and tear alone should be enough to require replacement. At the same time, its age may necessitate a change simply by being stylistically behind the times.
Whether it’s shag straight out of the 70s or it features a tacky motif from when it was your toddler’s room back in the 90s, outdated carpet can’t be made trendy through repairs; replacement is your only solution. But with advances in fiber technology and a large variety of luxurious and modern styles to choose from, that’s not such a bad thing and can instantly upgrade your home.
As discussed earlier, mold and mildew buildup can lead to health issues, including illness and allergies. Dust and pollen are also culprits that can get trapped in long fibers and cause everything from headaches and sinus problems to fatigue and coughing.
While professional cleaning can help mitigate carpet allergies, if the carpet is old or exposed to an unusually high amount of irritants, cleaning likely won’t get the job done. When old, matted down fibers break down, they become less effective at preventing irritants from accumulating deep into the carpet. Meanwhile, one or more of those in your house may even be sensitive or allergic to the specific materials in the old carpeting. In that case, replacing the carpet altogether is really your only choice.
Causing allergies: RESTORE (Cleaning/Vacuuming)
Causing allergies or illness after several cleanings: REPLACE
Thankfully, the majority of wall-to-wall carpeting issues can be fixed with a good cleaning or expert repair. However, if the damage is extensive or if health issues are involved, replacing your carpet is probably your best move.
Whether your carpet needs professional cleaning, repair, or replacement, we have the experience and expertise to get the job done right. For all your carpeting needs, get in touch with The Carpet Workroom today!