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How to Stop Mold Growing Under Your Carpet

Posted on Aug 8, 2017, by Michael Eckert

Mold and mildew is a major problem in any commercial space. Once spotted, it can be removed relatively easily and effectively - though doing so is costly and time-consuming. However, the real problem lies in its ability to spread unseen throughout your building, causing extensive damage - and health problems for building users - for weeks and months before it becomes visible. How? It grows underneath the carpet.

Today we're sharing the secret to preventing mold growth altogether, to stop it spreading, unnoticed, beneath your flooring.

What Causes Mold Under Carpets?

According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, “anything can mold as long as there is moisture or a food source”.

Any surface in a building contains enough nutrients to provide a food source for mold spores - but that's not normally a problem, until you add moisture into the equation. Put simply, moisture is the real culprit.

If you find mold and mildew underneath your flooring, it's a clear sign that there are elevated moisture levels under the carpet. The most common cause of this in existing buildings is moisture vapor seeping into the concrete subfloor from the subsoil outside, due to fluctuations in the water table - either because the building doesn't have a vapor barrier in place, or the vapor barrier has been compromised. Alternatively, your moisture problem may be as simple as having sprinklers too close to the building, and the water runs off into the foundations and seeps into the concrete subfloor.

Put simply, moisture vapor seeps into the concrete subfloor, rises up through the concrete, and is then trapped by flooring with impermeable backings. This means the moisture vapor is unable to escape and evaporate away, and if the temperature changes, the vapor condenses into liquid water, providing the moisture needed to activate the mold spores.

It's Easy to Get Rid of Mold - But How do You Stop it Altogether?

If you find mold underneath your carpets it's cause for concern, but it's not overly difficult to remedy: a whole industry has developed around mold removal products and processes. Depending on the severity of the mold outbreak when you discover it, you have two options:

  • Apply a topical mold removal product;
  • Or call in the services of a specialist mold treatment and removal team.

However, this can be extremely expensive - especially if you need to bring in specialist mold removers - and very disruptive for your organization, requiring a lot of down-time while the space is treated.

Even worse, mold can cause health issues for your building users, so rather than waiting for mold to grow under your carpet, surely it's better to prevent it growing in the first place?

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew Growth

To prevent mold growth, one of the most common recommendations from flooring manufacturers is to seal the subfloor before laying your flooring. This creates an impermeable barrier between your flooring and the subfloor, trapping moisture within the subfloor where it can't damage your flooring, or the room above.

While this is effective at preventing mold from damaging your flooring and spreading throughout the building, it doesn't deal with the root cause of the problem, or prevent mold from growing in the first place. If you want to prevent mold growth altogether, you need to remove the one thing it relies upon to thrive: moisture.

The most effective solution is surprisingly simple: select a moisture vapor-wicking carpet.

The best moisture vapor-wicking carpet has open cell cushion backing. The structure of this backing allows moisture vapor to travel harmlessly through the carpet tile and evaporate away at the tile seams, as nature intended. This removes the main source of moisture from the subfloor, meaning that it's not creating the damp environment in which mold thrives.

How to eliminate the risk of a mold & mildew crisis

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert