Knowing when to replace your carpet padding can make a world of difference for the longevity of your carpet. You don’t always have to replace the padding when there’s a stain, or if you get new carpet, but you should be familiar with the issues surrounding carpets and the reasons why you may need to get new padding.
A good rule of thumb for carpet padding is to replace it every five years. Your carpet may be in better or worse shape, though, so you will have to do an inspection to decide what shape it’s in. If your carpet sees a lot of traffic, it may wear out sooner, but if it’s in a less traveled area, it may last significantly longer.
One way to quickly test the condition of your carpet is by walking over it. If you hear crackling, or notice it’s uneven or worn in places, it’s time to change the padding.
If you are getting new carpet, there are two reasons you might want to change your carpet padding. First, a lot of manufacturers will void the warranty if you do not use new padding when you install new carpet. While a void carpet warranty may not seem to matter, the premise behind it is sound and actually leads to the second reason: carpet padding has to be carpet specific.
The main purpose of carpet padding is not to provide cushioning to your feet, but to absorb the impact on the carpet and protect it from wearing out quickly. You have to be careful when choosing the right thickness and softness, so you will need to evaluate whether your existing padding is appropriate for new carpeting.
Discoloration from Gases
Gases in certain padding can creep up and start discoloring carpet. This typically happens with older rubber pads and pads that contain formaldehyde. Not only does off-gassing emit a strong smell, but it sometimes can turn white carpets yellow. If you notice discoloration and cannot identify the source, it could be from your padding.
Stains and Odors
If you’ve spilled something on your carpet, chances are you can eliminate the stain and forget about it. But in some cases, whatever you’ve spilled may leak into the padding and either create a mold scenario or cause a strong smell. Liquids like gasoline, milk, vinegar, and bleach give off strong odors that are not easy to rub out or mask.
Whether it’s flooding or a big spill, if a large amount of water leaks into the padding, mold and mildew can easily take over. If you’re set on not replacing either carpet or padding, it's imperative that you dry both pieces as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Over the next few weeks, make sure no odor appears, as it may indicate mold or mildew. In that case, you’ll need to replace both carpet and padding.
There are several instances where you should consider replacing carpet padding. Some of these are personal decisions, such as whether you mind voiding a new carpet warranty, and some of these can affect your health, like mold and mildew. Weigh the costs and benefits of carpet padding replacement before making a final judgment.