Before you start pulling up the carpet in your home, there are some important things you should consider. Sometimes carpet can be salvaged after water damage (same goes for rugs, upholstered furniture, and other textile goods in your home). So before you give up hope and consider your carpets a total loss, here are some things that can help you determine if you should replace your carpets after water damage.
Water damage that has not been cleaned up with 48-72 hours of occurring will foster mold and other microbial growth, meaning most carpet will have to be removed and replaced for health and safety purposes. The longer water damage is left unresolved, the worse the damage is. You should replace carpets if they have been exposed to water damage for more than 2 days.
How much water was introduced? If there are a few wet spots from water damage, but the carpet is not completely sodden, you can adequately dry it without replacing it. However, if there is standing water covering the carpet in its entirety, and it has soaked all the way through the padding as well, it is not as easy of a fix. Sodden carpet and carpet padding can lead to damage of the subfloor, which is major, so it should be removed and replaced.
Unsure of the extent of the damage? Start by pulling up the carpet to inspect the padding and subfloor. If the carpet padding looks like it has not been affected, and the subfloor is in good shape, the water damage was probably minor enough that thorough drying, cleaning, and restoration by a trained restoration company may just save your carpets.
If carpets have been dried, and water has been removed, yet a musty odor is lingering in your carpets, let the restoration company attempt professional odor elimination before you consider the carpets a total loss. Professional services are far more successful at salvaging water damage carpets, upholstery, and other materials than attempts made on your own.