Mold growth in carpet. Clean it or tear it out?

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wandwizard

Randy Dockins
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Nov 12, 2008
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#1
I had a customer who used me to clean some carpets in a house he is planning on selling back in early May, over 2 months ago. It happens that since I worked for him, and I don't know when, the basement had flooded. Matter of fact is flooded again right now. I have no idea how long it was left in a flooded state. Could have been days or even weeks easily. Wood floors are buckling slightly and some minor looking mold growth on the carpets. They had huge dehu's in there today and the carpet and pad was bone dry as checked by a moisture probe. I was extra careful with this job when I cleaned for them and made sure it was perfectly dry when I was done. Now there is a small amount of mold growth in a few places in both the large rooms I cleaned for them. The bedroom has just several quarter sized spots that I think could be treated. The large living room has a larger area of mold a few feet in length and width.

I have never in all my years seen anything quite like this and I'm certain the water damage in the basement is the cause. At this point they are not trying to pin the blame on me, but you never know what someone might do. Could I clean this and kill the mold in the carpet? Probably, but should I is what I'm asking? I DO NOT do water damage or mold remediation so I do not feel I'm qualified to say anything other than what I told them which was the carpet needs replaced under the insurance for flood damages. Does anyone agree or should I have at least tried to clean and kill the mold? Pretty sure it could be done, but liability is what concerns me most.
 
Jan 15, 2014
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www.cleanstepscarpetcare.com
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Aaron Newsom
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#2
You will have to do your due diligence on writing out a waiver that takes 100% liability off of your and your company. If you don't and you clean it and mold returns that's all on you in every way. Replacement, any health issues someone may say it has caused etc. I would honestly walk away.
 
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wandwizard

Randy Dockins
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#3
You will have to do your due diligence on writing out a waiver that takes 100% liability off of your and your company. If you don't and you clean it and mold returns that's all on you in every way. Replacement, any health issues someone may say it has caused etc. I would honestly walk away.
That was my first instinct, the walking away. I really think the insurance needs to own this one. They have a whole lot more money than I do. I am afraid I could do more harm by adding more moisture to the situation and they don't even have the basement problem worked out yet. I would do the master bedroom if asked though, but I'm not real sure that's a good idea either. There could be mold sitting in the pad although I'm pretty sure it's just those smaller spots on the surface I am pretty well certain are treatable. The other carpet is berber and I think the mold is deeper and definitely a lot more of it. I'd hate to try it. I immediately told them that carpet had to be pulled and replaced along with the pad. I also told them they needed to consult a specialist on this job as I didn't feel comfortable giving too much advice. This was out of my area of expertise for sure. Btw, it's fixing to storm right now so I fully expect more water to get in the basement tonight.
 

Robert86

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Sep 28, 2016
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Robert Phillips
#4
Replace. You could clean the carpet but that's not going to do much about the mold that's likely thriving under the carpet and the matting.

Sounds like prolonged standing water in the basement, plus the heat, the humidity rising through the floor turned that place into a sauna for a good while. This caused the mold to grow. And there is a good chance there is mold in the walls and ceiling too.

I've been in a couple houses that were unoccupied for several years and had standing water in the basement for likely months at a time. Just from the humidity coming up the popcorn ceilings were saturated and falling off, the walls, floors, everything was water damaged in the main level that never flooded. And you're right, you could add to the problem trying to clean at this point.

They obviously have an issue with flooding that they need to get worked out before they do anything, and then their might be a lot of work to correct all the mold growth that's likely in the house.
 
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Jan 15, 2014
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www.cleanstepscarpetcare.com
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Aaron Newsom
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#5
Padding is a guarantee replace. Hitting it heavy with a antimicrobial on backing and surface on the carpet may take care of it. But it sounds like they aren't willing to pay for that according to what you've said. Seems they are trying to unload the property. I would walk for sure. That being said, I've cleaned carpet that actually has mushrooms growing in the carpet for a property management group. They signed an extensive waiver putting 100% liability on them.
 
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jtsunbrite

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Sep 4, 2015
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#6
I had a customer who used me to clean some carpets in a house he is planning on selling back in early May, over 2 months ago. It happens that since I worked for him, and I don't know when, the basement had flooded. Matter of fact is flooded again right now. I have no idea how long it was left in a flooded state. Could have been days or even weeks easily. Wood floors are buckling slightly and some minor looking mold growth on the carpets. They had huge dehu's in there today and the carpet and pad was bone dry as checked by a moisture probe. I was extra careful with this job when I cleaned for them and made sure it was perfectly dry when I was done. Now there is a small amount of mold growth in a few places in both the large rooms I cleaned for them. The bedroom has just several quarter sized spots that I think could be treated. The large living room has a larger area of mold a few feet in length and width.

I have never in all my years seen anything quite like this and I'm certain the water damage in the basement is the cause. At this point they are not trying to pin the blame on me, but you never know what someone might do. Could I clean this and kill the mold in the carpet? Probably, but should I is what I'm asking? I DO NOT do water damage or mold remediation so I do not feel I'm qualified to say anything other than what I told them which was the carpet needs replaced under the insurance for flood damages. Does anyone agree or should I have at least tried to clean and kill the mold? Pretty sure it could be done, but liability is what concerns me most.
Randy go pull the carpet back and show her the mold and mildew on the backing and pad and concrete, then tell her its beyond carpet cleaning. Take pics and say Maam call your insurance company. Walk away there is nothing good that can come from you doing that job.
 

wandwizard

Randy Dockins
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#7
Padding is a guarantee replace. Hitting it heavy with a antimicrobial on backing and surface on the carpet may take care of it. But it sounds like they aren't willing to pay for that according to what you've said. Seems they are trying to unload the property. I would walk for sure. That being said, I've cleaned carpet that actually has mushrooms growing in the carpet for a property management group. They signed an extensive waiver putting 100% liability on them.
I think they only called me because they thought the carpet could be saved. I don't know who put those huge dehumidifiers in there so I'm wondering if another service had already been called that specializes in flood jobs. The insurance adjuster was in there while I was there today. He didn't understand how the mold could have gotten into the master bedroom because there is no basement under that area. He was a pretty young guy. I told him the mold can get airborne and travel anywhere in the house. Mold seems to attach itself to any organic substance it can latch on to. Obviously they had a very humid, mold friendly environment in there for a while.
 

Jim Davisson

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#8
Go with your gut feeling. If you feel like you are going to be pinned with it, wash your hands, rip up your invoice and walk. However, in writing have the customer sign off that you believe, after further assessment it should be replaced and you absolve yourself from the job. No shame in quiting the blame game!
 
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Robert86

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#9
I think they only called me because they thought the carpet could be saved. I don't know who put those huge dehumidifiers in there so I'm wondering if another service had already been called that specializes in flood jobs. The insurance adjuster was in there while I was there today. He didn't understand how the mold could have gotten into the master bedroom because there is no basement under that area. He was a pretty young guy. I told him the mold can get airborne and travel anywhere in the house. Mold seems to attach itself to any organic substance it can latch on to. Obviously they had a very humid, mold friendly environment in there for a while.
I used to work at an athletic club that had pool in the basement. Pool was under about 1/3 of the building. And the rest of the basement was separated from the pool by a cinderblock wall. We closed for 2 days over Christmas and the person that cleaned the last night before they closed turned off the pool room ventilation. When we came back from being closed the walls and ceiling had condensation on them in the cardio room, upstairs, at the opposite end of the building.

When contained the humidity will just spread and fairly quickly through the building. This facility was over 15,000 sq ft and the downstairs weight room was the only room that didn't smell like a pool and feel like a sauna walking in.
 
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jtsunbrite

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#10
Go with your gut feeling. If you feel like you are going to be pinned with it, wash your hands, rip up your invoice and walk. However, in writing have the customer sign off that you believe, after further assessment it should be replaced and you absolve yourself from the job. No shame in quiting the blame game!
you know what,, I totally agree with that,,, cover your ass no matter what.
 

jtsunbrite

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#12
I've walked from at least dozen water damage jobs, especially when a new adjuster "takes over". If my gut sez run, I listen.
Oh hell yeah !!! on those jobs,, even though I know I can do it,,, too many variables of things that can happen,, and your on the hook for it so,,, anything I don't feel right about on those! I am gone...
 

ratfool

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Marlene Slichter
#13
I've walked from at least dozen water damage jobs, especially when a new adjuster "takes over". If my gut sez run, I listen.
This is the best advice!! The WRT class I took would have said "pull it out and remediation". The amount of mold necessary to qualified remediation is quite small.
 
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Qwikdry

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Dec 2, 2012
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#14
Padding is a guarantee replace. Hitting it heavy with a antimicrobial on backing and surface on the carpet may take care of it. But it sounds like they aren't willing to pay for that according to what you've said. Seems they are trying to unload the property. I would walk for sure. That being said, I've cleaned carpet that actually has mushrooms growing in the carpet for a property management group. They signed an extensive waiver putting 100% liability on them.
lol, a few years ago i worked for a section 8 apartment complex in maintenance and their was water damage in some units, smelt musty, felt damp and their were mushrooms around the edges of the carpet...lol pretty funny actually...i mean i can't believe they actually rented the units out to people in that condition...damn
 

Qman

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Feb 7, 2017
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Quentin Tebb
#15
If I walk onto a job and I see mushrooms and the areas pretty damp for a while, I'll typically do a Bio Test on it. Typically will allow me to gauge how long it's been sitting. If it's way to high for recent water I'll tell them it's done. If they don't want it ripped out out comes the "I am not responsible" form.

Did one this past winter. Person next door said it had been running for 2 hrs be for the water was shut off. Further inspection proved otherwise (Bio test for us read off at 4000 at the source (broken water line to the HW Tank) and at the furthest point away it had wicked up 3'.

In the end it's all about covering your butt if it is not an insurance claim.
 
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Jan 20, 2011
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www.goodfaithcarpetcleaning.com
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Tony H.
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#16
I just want to add my 2 cents on getting a liability waiver signed. I worked in construction for many years as a flooring installer. There are certain standards that must be met before flooring is installed such as the condition of the subfloor, moisture content etc. If the condition of the job/subfloor was below standard, it was up to us as professionals to advise the customer of the situation and determine for ourselves whether we should continue with the job. We knew of course that if we walked out, another contractor could come in, maybe get a waiver signed, and do the job without a second thought.

We all hate the thought of losing money, but sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. It's easy to flippantly say "Well just get an ironclad waiver signed by the homeowner and go for it", but in practice it may not be that simple. I personally know of 2 contractors who did get waivers signed and when it came time for lawsuits and court, they lost. BIG BUCKS. Why? Because they were supposed to be the "experts" according to the judge.

Question: "Are you certified as a mold remediation expert?" "No your honor, I am not, but I got them to sign a waiver, here it is!" "You're not? Then you should have never gotten involved with this job in the first place. Pay the lady!" No questions, no cross examinations, just you holding a useless piece of paper that the judge considers irrelevant. Case closed. It can and has happened depending on the judge you are in front of.

If you do consider using a waiver make damn sure it is iron clad and drawn up by an attorney. In my opinion, no carpet cleaning job could pay me enough to take that kind of chance on my own, waiver or no waiver. Just my opinion.
 

wandwizard

Randy Dockins
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#17
I just want to add my 2 cents on getting a liability waiver signed. I worked in construction for many years as a flooring installer. There are certain standards that must be met before flooring is installed such as the condition of the subfloor, moisture content etc. If the condition of the job/subfloor was below standard, it was up to us as professionals to advise the customer of the situation and determine for ourselves whether we should continue with the job. We knew of course that if we walked out, another contractor could come in, maybe get a waiver signed, and do the job without a second thought.

We all hate the thought of losing money, but sometimes the best thing to do is walk away. It's easy to flippantly say "Well just get an ironclad waiver signed by the homeowner and go for it", but in practice it may not be that simple. I personally know of 2 contractors who did get waivers signed and when it came time for lawsuits and court, they lost. BIG BUCKS. Why? Because they were supposed to be the "experts" according to the judge.

Question: "Are you certified as a mold remediation expert?" "No your honor, I am not, but I got them to sign a waiver, here it is!" "You're not? Then you should have never gotten involved with this job in the first place. Pay the lady!" No questions, no cross examinations, just you holding a useless piece of paper that the judge considers irrelevant. Case closed. It can and has happened depending on the judge you are in front of.

If you do consider using a waiver make damn sure it is iron clad and drawn up by an attorney. In my opinion, no carpet cleaning job could pay me enough to take that kind of chance on my own, waiver or no waiver. Just my opinion.
I've pretty much decided, specially after reading your post, that the risks far outweigh the small financial benefit. That was my instinct from the beginning, but I thought I could probably save both these carpets since I don't think the mold damage is severe. Then there is always that possibility that there is more going on in there than meets the eye and that's the part that worries me so I think I'll just stick to what I told them about replacing the carpet and pad. Better safe than sorry. I have very little to gain from this job, but potentially a whole lot to lose. I told them from the get go they needed someone who is an expert to take a look at this and that I'm not certified to handle the job. If that were my own home I might handle it differently, but handling something like this for someone else is a whole different ball game. Things could go real far south really quick.
 
Jul 16, 2017
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Jeff poljacik
#18
I would most likely, advise them on speaking with their home owner insurance, and don't be afraid to express your concern it's very important you are transparent...sound like they need to replace the carpet,, mold is difficult to deal with. If you do decide to clean it have the customer sign a liability disclosure form. And cut and patch existing problem areas if you can match the carpet.
 

AplusM

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Jul 9, 2018
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Becki
#19
You don’t want to be held liable, but you should still tell the homeowner about their mold as it poses dangers to health. Because of flooding, you won’t be held liable unless you don’t say anything about the mold now. You can even point her in the direction of a mold removal specialist like A+ Mold Removal that works with insurance companies to fix these types of issues.