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This page contains the following information:

How to take care of spots and stains
Information on carpet warranties
Methods of carpet cleaning
Prolong the life of your carpet
What to do in case of a flood
What to look for in a carpet cleaner

HOW TO TAKE CARE OF SPOTS AND STAINS

No one likes it when there is a spill on the floor, but with the help of the
CRI, it can be cleaned before becoming a permanent part of the carpet. The information
listed below will prepare you to properly deal with spills and keep your carpet
clean for years to come.

INFORMATION ON CARPET WARRANTIES

Did you know? Carpet manufacturers recommend carpet cleaning be performed by a professional carpet cleaner every 12 to 18 months to maintain warranty coverage.

What’s not covered by most manufacturers’ warranties

Most consumer complaints are not related to a manufacturing defect. Many complaints can be attributed to improper carpet installation, improper carpet care, or misinterpretation of warranties.

The most common complaint involving carpet is related to improper carpet installation. These complaints should be directed to the carpet retailer or carpet installation subcontractor if the carpet installation was not contracted by the retailer.

Improper care and maintenance related problems are another common consumer complaint. Often, appearance changes in traffic areas, color changes, excessive soiling, and staining can be attributed to improper care and maintenance. Some warranties require that receipts for professional cleaning services be supplied for verification of proper care.

Another common warranty issue is the incidence of water intrusion or flood damage. Most carpet manufacturers void warrantees after flood damage has occurred. Most insurance companies prefer to restore carpet that has been subjected to water damage. Since manufacturers rarely become involved in the details of these water intrusion events, they are uncertain how the carpet will continue to perform after flooding.

Finally, many carpet complaints can be attributed to misinterpretation of specific warranties. The most common warranty misinterpretations are related to wear and stain. Many consumers assume that changes in the appearance of traffic areas are related to wear. However, most wear warranties cover a loss of pile fiber rather than a change in appearance. Most stain warranties cover common food and beverage stains, but consumers often file claims prior to adequate removal attempts. Newer stain warranties require the consumer to contact an area carpet cleaner and the manufacturer will intervene only if the stain cannot be removed. Other items that are not covered under stain warranties include bleaching agents, chemical agents, and fading. For a complete description of all items covered under all warranties, obtain a written copy of all warranties prior to carpet installation.

Carpet warranty information

For warranty information on carpeting you can refer to the following manufacturer’s websites:

METHODS OF CARPET CLEANING

The five carpet cleaning methods are:

  1. Shampooing
  2. Dry foam
  3. Bonnet (Dry Cleaning)
  4. Dry Powder
  5. Hot Water Extraction (Steam Cleaning)

Let’s start with the oldest form of modern carpet cleaning first:

Shampooing

Shampooing is the use of a motorized circular brush in which foaming cleaning products are introduced to the surface of the carpet and are then scrubbed into the carpet. This method has very good agitation and is best suited for low pile commercial carpet or low cut pile carpet that is highly soiled. This method, unless it is used with some other type of carpet cleaning, has no extraction in the cleaning process but rather relies on vacuuming after the shampoo dries. Because of it’s high aggressiveness, and the large amounts of cleaning product residue it leaves, this method is not recommended for most cut pile residential carpet. It also can have long drying times associated with it.

Dry foam

This method is very similar to shampooing in that it relies on the aggressiveness of the brushing action, which is usually counter rotating cylindrical brushes. The difference is that the solution is whipped into a foam and applied right before the brushes instead of a liquid as in shampooing. This does allow for faster drying times. Although some DRY FOAM machines have a built in vacuum they still rely on the cleaning product drying to a flaky residue that the dirt adheres to and being sucked away by a vacuum cleaner. This method has the same weaknesses as Shampooing with the additional one of not being able to deep clean.

Bonnet (dry cleaning)

In this type of cleaning sometimes referred to as ‘Dry Cleaning’, the cleaning product (sometimes mixed with carbonated water) is misted onto the carpet in the form of a spray. Next, a circular rotating buffer with an absorbent pad attached is run over the carpet. The soil attaches itself to the pad and the pad is changed with a clean one after becoming dirty. This method has the advantage of drying very quickly because of the small amount of moisture used. It generally does a good job of cleaning the topl/3 of the carpet pile that is visible to the eye. But does little to remove the heavier grit and sand that damages carpet over time. Because there is no flushing action or extraction, there is very little deep cleaning. This method may be considered as an interim cleaning between more effective deep cleanings.

Dry powder

With this method, a dry product (powder or ground corn cobs that have been soaked with a solvent chemical) is broadcast over the area to be cleaned. Then either a circular brush or cylindrical rotating brush is used to force the dry cleaning product in contact with the soil. After the carpet dries, which is surprising fast, a through vacuuming is required to remove the product and loosened soil. This method has the fastest drying times of all carpet cleaning methods and has the advantage of being able to be walked on almost immediately after cleaning. Similar to the Bonnet method, dry powder cleaning does a fairly good job of cleaning the top 1/3 of the fiber that is visible if it is not heavily soiled. Again, it does very little to remove the heavier soils in the base of the fibers. It’s weakness is the extraction cycle. If not vacuumed with a powerful commercial vacuum, large amounts of the cleaning product can remain, and over a period of time build up and cause considerable problems later on.

Hot water extraction

Hot water extraction is sometimes referred to as ‘Steam Cleaning’. Actually this is a misapplied term, for real steam is too dry and hot to clean carpet properly. In this method, hot cleaning solution is sprayed under pressure onto the carpet and is immediately extracted with a vacuum source. The dirty solution is collected in a recovery tank and is usually poured into the sanitary waste system. The advantage of this system is that is has the ability to flush out large amounts of soil and contaminants in carpet. It is the most preferred method by all of the major fiber producers, such as Dupont, Monsanto and Allied Signal, as well as the carpet manufacturers like, Shaw, Mohawk, World, and Queen. Because this method removes more contaminants than the other carpet cleaning methods, hot water extraction is favored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is the preferred method of the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). It does have the disadvantage of having longer drying times and the possibility of wick up of spots if they are not thoroughly extracted. Most higher quality carpets that have extended appearance and texture retention warranties require this type of cleaning every 18 months in order to retain the warranty coverage.

Not All Water Extraction Machines Are Equal

There are three basic types of extraction machines. They are:

Residential/Rental. These machines are fine for spills and maintenance of lightly soiled traffic areas. But they lack the power needed to do the deep cleaning required to get out the grit that lies deep in your carpet pile and to maintain carpet manufacturer warranties.

Professional portables. These machines are many times more powerful than residential units. The number and size of vacuum motors and pumps plus heat exchangers differentiates one from another in terms of performance. The most powerful machines may have two power cords to enable household circuits to cope. A really good job can be done with these units. if the operator has excellent training and takes his or her time. Sometimes portables are the only way the carpets in some locations can be cleaned.

Truck mounted units. These machines have large independent engines or run off the motor of the cleaning van. They can develop up to 1000 pounds of pressure (though normally carpet is cleaned at only 500 lbs. of pressure). They also heat the water to 180 or more degrees and have very powerful vacuums. These machines are expensive but they can leave the carpets drier in many cases when used properly. Typically, this type of hot water extraction machine should give improved results as well as decrease time on the job.

PROLONG THE LIFE OF YOUR CARPET

Your carpets represent a sizable investment. It would make sense to take measures that would extend their life.

Most carpet is made of synthetic fibers such as: nylon, olefin, polyester, and some acrylic. These synthetic fibers rarely wear out (except on stairs), instead they ugly out. What we mean by that is, the fibers crush, or mat down, or flatten out. They also abrade or get scratched. You see, your carpets are made up of thousands upon thousands of very small thread-like fibers that are twisted together. These fibers are basically translucent pieces of plastic. That means that light can pass through them, like a colored Plexiglas. You know how Plexiglas looks after it gets scratched, dull and dirty. Well improperly cared for carpet can look the same. What scratches carpet is gritty soil and sand that is left in the carpet and when it is walked on it rubs against the fibers and scratches them. After so much of this scratching, you can clean the soil and sand out but the damage already done is irreversible and you get is what we call in the carpet cleaning industry … traffic lane gray. This is where the fibers are clean, but since they are so scratched up they do not reflect the light back to the eyes and now take on a dull appearance which is commonly mistaken for soiled carpets. This usually happens first in the heavily walked on areas or traffic lanes.

So the most important thing you can do to improve the appearance life expectancy or your carpet is to:

1. Use walk off mats.

  • Every entry into the house that is used should have an outside mat that is rough enough to remove mud and other debris and soil and the inside mat that is absorbent can remove any moisture.
  • The outside mat should be able to withstand the elements and have someplace for the dirt to drop into so that it does not get contaminated and start doing the opposite of what it was intended to do.
  • The inside mat should be heavy enough to lay flat and have a rubberized back to prevent creeping. These mats should be small and light enough to be able to be washed in your home washing machine and should be cleaned regularly.

2. Other places to put these inside mats would be:

  • Right off kitchens to prevent cooking oils and food-stuffs from being tracked into the carpeted area of your home.
  • Any other hard surface areas that adjoin to carpeted rooms.

(Clean these mats regularly, they are the heart of prevention.)

3. Vacuum your carpets regularly.

  • At least twice per week and more often if you have children or pets.
  • Vacuuming your traffic lanes every day will give you the best protection against premature uglying out of your carpet.

4. Have your carpets professionally ‘steam cleaned’ a minimum of once per year, more often if you have pets or children.

  • Most people wait until the carpet is visibly soiled before they clean their carpets. This is not wise. What causes the most damage to carpets is the abrasive particles that are stuck to the carpet fibers by oil residues. These oil residues are everywhere and are from the burning of hydrocarbons from motor vehicles factories, power plants and volatilized oils from cooking. They are so small that we usually cannot see them. But they always settle down and land on the largest horizontal surfaces, our carpets!
  • Once the oil is on the carpet, the soil then sticks to the fibers and no vacuum cleaner can then remove it.
  • Also regular cleaning helps prevent matting and crushing of carpet by removing the oils that cause fibers to clump together and compress.
  • When the carpet is so soiled that you can visibly see it then the abrasive soil has been rubbing on the fibers way too long and damage has already occurred.
  • The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) recommends that carpet in a residential setting be cleaned a minimum of once per year and every 3 to 6 months if children and pets are present. Their reason for the frequency has more to do with maintaining a healthy indoor environment than appearance but it is still good advice.

5. Maintain your vacuum cleaner.

  • Most vacuum cleaners in America today are 70% ineffective, because the bag is over 1/2 full. After the bag is 1/2 full, the vacuum efficiency is greatly reduced. Once your vacuum cleaner bag is 1/2 full you should change it.
  • Check the brushes of your vacuum cleaner, when placing a pencil on the base of your power head, the brushes should just touch the pencil and bend slightly as you turn the brush. If it doesn’t you could be losing up to 50% efficiency. Adjust or replace the brushes if needed.

6. Have your carpets retreated with stain and soil resistant products regularly after a thorough, deep cleaning.

  • Although you may have purchased your carpet new with some type of soil or stain resistant treatment, all topical treatments like these loose effectiveness over time through wear and in the cleaning process. The only way to insure the highest level of protection is to retreat after each cleaning.

7. Remove spots quickly.

  • Most spills can be removed if attended to quickly. The longer a spill stays on the carpet, the greater the chance that damage will take place.
  • Keep a quality general spotter on hand and preferably have a multi part professional spotting kit to cover most spills.
  • Groom your carpets. Yes, your carpets need to be brushed just like your hair to ensure optimum health. What it does is to pull up or lift the tufts of fibers and make them stand on end. The helps to control matting and crushing, and allows your vacuum cleaner to reach down and get the sand and grit in the base of your carpeting. It has been estimated that grooming prior to vacuuming increases loose soil removal by 23%.

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF A FLOOD

Five Steps That You Need To Do NOW To Protect Your Home (Or Business) And Your Valuables From Further Damage

When you have unwanted water in your home or business you need to know what to do NOW. The difference in waiting just a few hours before you take action, can mean hundreds, even thousands of dollars worth on additional damage to your home and belongings.

Safety First. Turn off all power to rooms that are affected. Walk carefully on wet surfaces especially when moving from carpeted areas onto hard surfaces. If there are any sagging ceilings, do not walk under them. They may collapse and cause injury. You may want to punch a small hole in them and let them drain into a plastic bucket in order to relieve the pressure the water is creating. Do not turn any overhead lights if ceiling is wet. Do not operate TV’s or other electrical appliances while standing on wet carpets or floors. Especially on wet concrete floors.

The five things you should do now

1. Find And Stop The Source. If fresh water plumbing is involved turn off the valve to the fixture that is leaking. If there is no cut-off valve or you cannot locate the break, then turn off the main water supply valve to the house. If you cannot find the one in your home, you should cut off the outside water main. If you cannot do this, then call a plumber or qualified tradesman. Sometimes the fire department can help.

2. If the water source was clean, remove as much standing water as possible. Use a UL approved wet/dry vac if you have one. Do not use a household vacuum cleaner that is not approved for this use. Use clean, white towels, linens, blankets, bedspreads, to contain the water and prevent it from entering unaffected areas. Do not attempt this if the water is contaminated as from a sewer source, leave this to a professional company.

3. Locate and remove from the affected areas all clothing, books, shoes, paper goods, and any other items that may be damaged by water and place them in an unaffected area. Move light furniture to an unaffected area and if able, place aluminum foil or plastic under the legs of furniture that is remaining in the affected areas. If the piece of furniture is solid at its base, put wooden blocks or Styrofoam under it to prevent bleeding or rusting on to the flooring material. Wipe any water from the legs or where it has been splashed up on any furniture. Place any curtains in areas that are wet on pant hangers and hook on the curtain rod so they are off of the floor.

4. Remove valuable paintings and pictures from any wet walls. In warmer months, turn on air conditioner no lower than 72 degrees. Open drawers on any wet furniture and remove contents and spread out to dry. Prop up wet upholstery cushions on a clean white sheet. Remove any area rugs, to a dry area. Be careful as these might bleed on to other surfaces.

5. Call a competent, water damage restoration contractor to do a controlled ‘dry down’. Don’t wait. A professional firm understands the critical nature of a water damage loss and should be willing to respond quickly, even after business hours and on weekends.

Different types of water: clean, gray and black

Not all water is the same. The water that invades our homes comes from many sources and passes through different materials, sometimes taking with it unwanted and undesirable elements. The unwelcome water in our home can be generally divided into three categories. Before we identify these three divisions we need to give a few words of explanation. The divisions between these three types of water is not always well defined and sometimes the water can be in various stages or between categories. And last of all, water rarely stays in the category that it started in as it continues to deteriorate. Now that you understand this, let’s examine the three types, divisions, or categories, of water that might invade our home:

1. Clean Water. This is simply drinkable water, at least when it left the pipes. It has no harsh or harmful chemicals that might pose an immediate danger to the health of inhabitants that might come into contact with it. Again, keep in mind that this water could have passed through some materials that may leach some harmful elements into it. Or, as time passes, bacteria could build up in it causing it to deteriorate into a more dangerous type. But for the sake of this brief report we will leave it with this definition; Water that has come from a clean and potable source and has not been contaminated. This water may come from a burst pipe or a supply hose to a washing machine or dishwasher. Obviously this is the safest type of water to remove and poses the least amount of health hazards.

2. Gray Water. This type of water is unsanitary and contains a degree of contamination that would cause someone substantial discomfort or sickness if consumed. It contains harmful microorganisms or nutrients for microorganisms. Examples of this would be the discharge from dishwashers, washing machines, broken aquariums, water from punctured water beds and the like. This water is dangerous to your family’s health and should be addressed by a trained professional. Allowing several hours or days to pass before this type of water is addressed will cause this type of water to progress to the next category.

3. Black Water. This water is grossly contaminated and always contains pathogenic or very harmful elements. Examples of this type of water are, sewer back up, seawater, ground surface water, rising water from streams or rivers. Black water can contain harmful chemicals, pesticides or medical wastes. Do not attempt to handle this type of water or stay in contact with it. Do not attempt any emergency measures yourself that will cause you or your loved ones to come in contact with this very dangerous water. Immediately call a competent, professional water damage restoration firm that is properly trained and has the right equipment to safely and effectively restore your home.

We trust that this brief explanation has helped you to see the importance of knowing the type of water that is in your home and what precautions you should take if you have gray or black water present.

What is and is not covered by insurance

Most water damage losses are covered by home owners insurance policies. But there are exclusions. The best time to check to see what is and is not covered by your insurance policy is before you have a problem. You should get your policy out and read it when you receive it. Then if you have a question, you should ask the agent you purchased it from for an explanation. The majority of home owner policies cover water damage if it is from an inside source. Many policies exclude ‘rising water’ or flooding, a separate flood insurance policy is needed to cover this type of loss. Some policies exclude water coming from a failure from a sump pump, although you may be able to purchase a special coverage ‘rider’ that will pay for this situation. Some policies do not pay for a sewer back up that is caused by an obstruction in the pipe outside of the home or if the sewer backs up due to a problem with the city or other sanitary service provider. See your policy for exclusions of this type.

Almost all residential insurance policies have what is called a deductible or co-pay. This is where you will pay a preset amount of money to correct or repair the covered loss before the insurance company will begin to pay. This amount may be as little as $100, but can be $250, $500, or even $1,000 or more. The vast majority of policies, however, are from $250 to $500 in the deductible amount. And although most policies will cover the damage caused by unwanted water that is released in your home, they rarely cover the repair of the item that caused it.

It is also important to know that most insurance policies have a clause in them that requires the owner of the policy to use their best efforts to ‘preserve and protect the structure and contents from further damage’. This means that the insurance company wants you to do what you reasonably can to keep the damage from spreading or getting worse. This would include attempting to shut off the water if that is possible, removing what items that you can to prevent them from being ruined, and of course, calling a professional company, if it is prudent to do so. Reputable, knowledgeable water damage restoration firms are not insurance representatives and cannot interpret your policy, but they can help you to meet your obligation to ‘preserve and protect’ your home and contents from further damage. If the job qualifies, they will work with your insurance company on payment terms. You, of course, will have to pay the deductible when the technician arrives and sign some paper work that authorizes the restoration company to do the emergency work.

Remember, your insurance company wants and expects you to take reasonable efforts to keep the situation from getting worse, even if you can’t get a hold of someone from your insurance firm. This includes arranging for a qualified firm that specializes in water damage restoration to come out and assist you in your emergency protection efforts.

Why an ordinary carpet cleaner may not be your best choice

When you experience a water damage loss you need the most qualified firm to put you back to normal as fast as possible and with the least disruption in your life. Unfortunately, not all companies that clean carpet and even advertise that they handle water damage are qualified to dry down your wet home and contents. To handle water damage properly, it requires the company and it?s technicians to be appropriately trained in the science of drying. The firm also should have the required monitoring instruments that can detect the presence of moisture even behind walls and under floors. Only after adequate testing with these sensitive instruments can you be sure that your home is thoroughly dried out and safe from potential build up of mold, mildew, and other microorganisms. A professional water damage restoration firm will have special air movers that direct large volumes of air along the floors, walls and carpets to speed up the drying time. They will also have commercial dehumidifiers that may be needed when conditions in the home are humid and drying the air becomes important.

Before choosing a firm to assist you with drying down your home, ask what industry certifications the firm and its technicians have. One excellent certification comes from a non-profit certifying body in the cleaning industry called The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or IICRC for short. Someone in the company you select should be certified as a Water Damage Restoration Technician. Ask them what testing and monitoring equipment they have and if they plan to use air movers and commercial dehumidifiers. You deserve a qualified, professional company to return your home to the condition it was in prior to the loss, don’t settle for less.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A CARPET CLEANER

Anytime you have a service provided in your home you want to make sure that the firm that you invite is reputable and competent. But how can you tell when you have never had any experience with the company before? Most carpet cleaners are honest, but they could be less than fully competent.

So, some additional questions may be in order, such as:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What kind of training have you received?
  3. Do you give free on site estimates? (be careful of estimates over the phone unless you are dealing with a reputable firm)
  4. How do you arrive at your charges?
  5. How would you clean a 5th generation nylon?

Let’s analyze some of these questions and why you would want to know the answers.

1. How long have you been in business? Everyone has to start sometime, it’s not a crime to be new in the business. However, you don’t want the person to be practicing on your carpet or furniture. What will compensate for being new in the business is if the individual has been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification or other similar training organization. The IICRC is a highly respected, non profit organization that certifies cleaning technicians. If they say they are certified, ask them to show you their card.

2. What kind of training have you received? How many days and what subjects did you learn? The technician training should be considerable as they will be responsible for the proper care of thousands of dollars worth of carpet.

3. Do you give free estimates? A reputable firm will be most happy to do this. They will come out to your home, measure the size of the rooms (why should you pay the same price for cleaning a small bedroom that you pay for your large living room or den?). Examine the carpet for clean-ability. Test spots for the possibility of removal, and some will even give you a free written report. They should be frank and honest when setting your expectations about how your carpet will look after it is cleaned and what stains may not respond to professional cleaning techniques.

4. How do you arrive at your pricing? There are different ways of arriving at an equitable cost for cleaning your carpets. Many reputable firms will charge by the square foot others by the room. There is no one right way. In residential homes with average furnishings that must be moved and average soiling, the square footage price could justifiably run up to 35 cents per square foot. This should include the following:

  • Pre-inspect all areas to be cleaned to uncover all customer concerns and set reasonable customer expectations
  • Pre-vacuum all carpet to be cleaned
  • Move all movable furniture
    • China cabinets, book cases, entertainment centers, pianos, grandfather clocks, waterbeds, beds with bookcase headboards, aquariums, and other such items are not normally moved unless they are empty and properly prepped
  • Pre-treat the traffic areas with cleaning products that are designed to loosen oils that are binding the soil to the fibers
  • Clean the carpet and carefully return furniture to its original location, putting protective foil squares or plastic to prevent staining by furniture legs
  • Clean all open areas
  • Treat all spots that haven’t been removed in the normal extraction process and re-extract
  • Groom or brush the carpet to set the pile on end
  • Final walk through with the customer to ensure satisfaction with job

The pricing for the cleaning usually does not include:

  • Deodorizing
  • Carpet Protectors such as Scotchgard
  • Attempts to remove permanent stains such as Kool-Aid®, wine, etc. after normal professional removal techniques have been utilized. This is not the same as spot removal, which should be included in the cleaning price.
  • Burn spots, tears or rips in seams or other installation problems

5. How do you clean a 5th Generation Nylon? The majority of current nylon is 5th Generation or Stain Resist. This must be cleaned with cleaning compounds with a pH (a term to measure the alkalinity or acidity of a solution) of 10 or less. If your cleaning technician is not aware of this then he may not be knowledgeable enough to use the right cleaning products for your carpet. If your carpet is wool, then cleaning should be done with a solution that is a pH of 7 or should be treated with a pH balancing product to neutralize the cleaning solution (there is usually a slightly higher charge to clean wool carpets because of this extra step).

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