Moldy Carpet Stains

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Dear NH,
I have recently carpeted a Florida room and I am getting a dark gray to black stain on the carpet all along the perimeter where the carpet meets the baseboard. The stain is only about 1/2" wide but it occurs along all four walls. The room is on a cement slab with a particleboard sub floor. I suspect that the stain has something to do with the cement underneath. I am willing to re-carpet the room but what can I do to keep this stain from recurring? I'd appreciate any help you could offer.
LI from Dearborn, MI

Dear LI,
Water (or water vapor) bringing "something" through the subfloor into the carpet is probably causing the stain. It could be mildew growth or it could be some sort of chemical stain. Since it is only around the perimeter, I am wondering if perhaps some sort of sealant or plastic tarp was used to cover the slab and moisture is leaking around the edges, producing the damp spots.

You may want to take up some of the subfloor and look underneath the see what's going on. If there is excessive moisture, you might want to remove the entire subfloor and seal the slab with waterproof cement paint. I would consult your local hardware or home store to find the correct product for this application in your area.

If they are not already installed, laying overlapping plastic tarps on the slab will also decrease the moisture infiltration. They should overlap at least a few feet and be pressed tightly around the perimeter of the slab. Ideally, the perimeter should be held in place mechanically with wood strips nailed to the slab. In inaccessible areas, one trick that can be used is to pour sand or gravel over the tarp to stabilize it.

You could, of course, consider putting down heavy plastic tarps underneath the carpet and padding. My advice is... DON'T DO IT! This would indeed isolate the carpet from whatever is causing the problem, but... a really BIG but... you will also be sealing the subfloor as well, and the additional persistent moisture will speed the growth of wood rot fungus.

copyright 2000 G.G. Alonzy

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