Vacuuming your Carpet Daily as a New Year’s Resolution

The Party is over, a new year has begun. Some have made new year resolutions to clean up the mess we have made in our lives. For others it’s time to just clean up the physical mess we have made in our little part of the world. Simple things like vacuuming our carpets can make a huge change in our lives.Sink overflowing with dirty dishes
Just think about how a dirty carpet is like a kitchen sink, it can only hold so much filthy water before that filth spills over the top. When carpets, rugs and floor coverings capture too much filth, the excess is pumped back into the air you breathe and spread across to other areas of your dwelling.
Here are a few helpful ideas to consider when making healthy choices and getting life back in order after the party is over.

  • Asthma sufferers can benefit greatly by vacuuming carpets daily and using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter.
  • Use a carpet groomer to loosen compacted soil prior to vacuuming. This will help prevent matting and crushing while allowing for more partials of soil to be removed.
  • Rotate area rugs twice a year to prevent early wear, sun fading and traffic patterns.
  • Rubber back floor mats are less likely to cause discoloring to both hard surface and carpet floors. Mats come in a variety styles so be sure to choose the proper back and face design.
  • Not all ice melting products are the same. Purchase an ice melt that is vegetation and structure friendly when possible. Advise your supplier about a specific application, there are effective alternatives to Rock Salt.

So while some may say “the party is over” and some might say the “party has just begun”, doing some small thing like vacuuming your carpet can make you breathe a little easier, reduce an early demise to your building and preserve your landscaping. Having carpets professionally cleaned on a regular basis by Hot Water Extraction, also known as steam cleaning is a smart starting point for making your maintenance tasks run smooth and easy.

How Worn Garage Door Seals can Cause Damage to Health and Home

Worn side garage door sealsWith winter weather quickly approaching time is a valuable commodity right now.   While making considerations for your winterization budget, many big ticket items in your home are often overlooked.   The largest item would be the health of you and your family.  A few simple adjustments, preventative measures and small “DIY” repairs can promote healthy living and save on utility bills as well as preventing damage to much larger investments in your home.   These investments include, but are not limited to carpet, laminate flooring and wool area rugs.   Now you might be thinking; what do garage door seals have to do with the condition of my health or my home’s interior and its contents?

The answer is air flow.   By many accounts the air inside your home is three to five times more toxic than outside air.   That’s because air flow carried toxins in from the outside and deposited them into your home where they are now nested deep inside places that a normal Worn seal at bottom of garage doorhousecleaning can’t reach.   Closing up your home for winter traps in these pollutants, germs and bacteria and can trigger allergies and illness.   This same air flow chilled by winter winds brings in harsh abrasives such as ice melt and rodents and also causes structural damage.

Garage door seals, when you think about it, tally up to over twenty five linear feet of potential air infiltration points per door. In plain English, that’s a lot of space for cold dirty air to enter your residence. Checking to see that the rails for the door itself are properly adjusted and positioned could be a Garage door quick fix and making sure the seals are in good repair will save you many future headaches.  Living here in Northeast Pennsylvania, many towns like Hazleton, Mountain Top and White Haven, experience harsh winters, where busted and frozen water pipes cause an unfortunate amount of damage.   Heating bills can easily skyrocket if insulation and air flow are not carefully considered.

Most seals for garage doors are standard and can be readily purchased at your local hardware store.   I purchased mine at Lowes HomeNew garage door seals ready for painting Improvement.   Remove the existing seals and clean off any dirt and caulking from the previous installation.   The side and top seals can be painted to match or meet any color scheme and easily tack onto the exterior of the door frame.   Running a bead of silicone sealer along the edge will keep out any moisture.   Foam and rubber molding for the bottom dust seal come in standard sizes too and are usually packed in rolls of various lengths.   You may need to loosen a bolt or two, but the old seal slides out of its grooves, the new seal folds into a “U” shape and the seal then slides back into the grooves of the bottom track.Side garage door deals being installed

There are many more quick, easy and cost effective tasks you can do to minimize the impact of winter on your house, in a short amount of time. Take simple walk around the exterior of your and home and look for other air entry points.  Look around pipes, windows, dryer vents and other hardware entering the structure and pack the gaps with putty, insulation, caulking or silicone.

Placing the proper entry matting at entry points is another quick and inexpensive preventative measure.   Tracked in soils will quickly deteriorate the condition of carpet, laminates and other flooring materials.   For the interior, try to use rubber backed matting; avoid using vinyl backed mats as they may discolor the floor.   Even the cheapest mat will remove some of the harsh elements that will dirty up your home.  Scrapper or bristle type mats are ideal for the exterior and fully effective interior floor mat should be long enough to accommodate 5-6 steps.Fine area rug

Closing up your home for the winter months will trap in many types of soils, germs, pollutants and other toxins. Air flow will bring in more while increasing heating bills so seal up those gaps. Rotate wool area rugs to avoid sun fading and traffic patterns.   Having your carpets and fabric upholstery professionally cleaned and applying protector will give you a fresh start and prevent early replacement of these big ticket items.

 

 

Removing Black Filtration Lines from Carpet is Tricky

The unsightly black lines around the edges of your carpet, especially near heat vents, doorways and walls, are called filtration lines.   The cause is fairly simple yet scientific.   It’s removing these spots that can be difficult.  I’m not aware of any “DIY” remedies that exist.

Air passes through and over the carpet and upholstery in your home which can be considered the lungs of a dwelling, capturing particulate soil, pollution and other nasty substances.   Some of the particles become magnetically charged and attach themselves to fibers around areas of restricted air flow, usually around heat vents, doorways and walls.  The indoor air quality(IAQ) outside your residence can be over 3 times more toxic than outside.

Don’t despair as there are treatments that break these magnetic bonds.   Your trusted professional carpet and rug cleaning company should carry these treatments and know how to properly use them.   As with any spot cleaning agent it must be used properly or permanent damage may occur.   Again there are no Do It Yourself remedies of which I’m aware.

How do Holiday Celebrations bring New Challenges in Carpet Cleaning?

colorful goodiesAs the Christmas, New Year and other celebrated holidays approach, many will find themselves preparing and eating ethnic and traditional foods and goodies.   Decorating the house and wrapping packages will weave its way into our busy schedules too.   But each of these activities has the potential to cause unforeseen specialty spots and stains on your carpets and rugs.   Please keep in mind that cleaning these odd types of soils may require more than just an all purpose cleaning agent.

Some of these specialty carpet stain makers include heated liquors and alcohol, sap from the Christmas tree, sugary teats with food dyes, fruits and dressings.   I have seen bright red wrapping paper leave pink patches on white nylon carpet.   Artificial grass craft paper contains dyed particles that can shake loose, fall to the floor and cause large green stains if they should get wet.   Many of the simple and innocent looking items we see around our homes and businesses during the holidays can cause unsightly damage to our floor coverings.

For the residential consumer, the best advice I can offer is vacuum, vacuum and vacuum; dry soil removal plays a key role in the daily maintenance of your home.   A well maintained carpet will usually have “stain resist” in place and a minimal amount of dry soil.   Both will greatly improve the chances of removing spots and spills from the soiled areas.   Some quick tips for cleaning up minor accidents are listed below.

  • To avoid further damage always pretest cleaning products in an inconspicuous area first.
  • Use a clean white towel to blot up excess liquid from spills and avoid rubbing.
  • Blot on cleaning agents, never pour.
  • Remove as much particulate material before applying spot cleaners.
  • Work spots from the outer edge inward to avoid spreading.

Professional carpet cleaning companies usually carry a variety of specialty products designed to aid in the removal of stubborn stains.    The IICRC can provide a list of trained and certified cleaners based on zip code.   The website also offers a wealth of consumer information.

Easy Tips for Asthma and Allergy Friendly Carpet Cleaning

Dustmites under magnificationRecently while watching television, I noticed a new commercial for a national carpet cleaning company claiming to be the first asthma & allergy friendly™ certified carpet cleaner.   Having an interest in the floor cleaning industry I decided to further review this newly discovered information.

According to the certifying organization’s website http://aafa.org/ , “the asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies”.   In short, the certification is awarded to those Professional Carpet Steam Cleaning procedures that have been scientifically demonstrated to contribute to the goals of allergen reduction.  

Based on these criteria it would appear that only the products and procedures, rather than the individual cleaning technicians performing the work, are receiving the certification.   The effectiveness of this certification then seems limited to the skill, education and ethics of the technician using certified cleaning procedures and products.   If the technician is not performing the procedures properly does this then void the certification?

 Mold spore under magnificationAlthough at present there seems to be only one carpet cleaning company among the masses worthy of the A&A Friendly Certification, have no fear, many cleaning companies out there will continue to meet and exceed these standards just as they have for many years.   There is no dire need or advantage to changing your choice of carpet cleaners now, especially if you have been satisfied with their service.   Asking your local carpet and upholstery cleaning company a few basic questions should put your mind at ease.  Do they use external extraction, such as a truck mount system, to avoid the vacuum from contaminating the indoor air?   Do they use HEPA filters on their equipment?   Some basic steps you can take to reduce allergy and asthma triggers are:

  • Control Mites – wash bedding in 130 plus water at least once per week
  • Avoid Spreading Contaminants – keep windows closed if possible.   Remove garments and fabrics worn outside at the front door and launder.
  • Use a Certified Vacuum – use microfiber clothes and dusters on baseboards, sills, door jambs, air registers, vents and other hard surfaces.
  • Avoid Harsh Chemicals – avoid using products with heavy scents, VOCs and natural lemon.
  • Change Filters – service and clean air filtration equipment regularly, including vents, registers and ducts.  Use Certified Filters on air conditioning units and change every 60-90 days; follow manufacturer guidelines and recommendations.
  • Humidity – eliminate any water leaks and try to keep humidity levels under 50% to reduce the chances of mold.
  • Hot Water Carpet Cleaning – it’s recommended that carpet and heavier rugs be professionally cleaned 3-4 times per year.   Vacuum fabric upholstery at least once per week.

For the Top Five questions you need to ask your choice in carpet cleaning companies visit http://www.nepacarpetcleaning.com/5-questions-to-ask-before-hiring-a-carpet-and-upholstery-cleaner.

The Four Factors for Effective Carpet Cleaning

Oriental rug being cleaned using the extraction processThere are four factors to be considered when it comes to effective carpet cleaning.   I use the word “effective” because cleaning carpet is not just soap and hot water.  They only account for half of the equation.

  • Cleaning solution strength
  • Water temperature
  • Dwell time
  • Mechanical agitation

The strength of water based carpet cleaning solutions is measured in Ph.   Solutions with a Ph range of 7.5-9 are common but it’s always wise to consult the manufacturer’s warranty information.   The wrong Ph can cause a host of issues including harm to the face fibers and backing materials, removal of factory applied spot and stain protection, rapid re-soiling and discoloration.

Dwell time, or the length of time the active cleaning solution is allowed to act on the soil being cleaned, is a crucial to the cleaning process.   Today, professional carpet cleaning companies apply pre-sprays before performing the actual cleaning process.   Dwell times will vary from product to product but should range from 5-15 minutes.   Rinsing agents are usually then employed to eliminate soapy residues, leaving the carpet clean, soft and not sticky.

In addition to solutions and dwell time, mechanical agitation and heat also play an equally important part in the cleaning of carpets and rugs.   Mechanical agitation can be the high pressure spray from an extractor wand’s jets, a rotating bonnet, brush or pad or the use of a groomer.   Care must be taken not to over wet the backing of the carpet being cleaned and to not disturb the natural twist and lay of the carpet’s face yarns.

The way in which a carpet lays is due in part to heat setting by the manufacturer.   Excessive heat either created through friction from a brush or pad or from the temperature of the cleaning solution being used, can permanently ruin your broadloom.   Water temperatures within the range of 120-200°F are usually considered normal for hot water extraction; however that is not the actual temperature of the atomized mist once it reaches the face of the carpet.

In closing it should be noted that the science of carpet cleaning is continuously evolving.   The changes in environmental regulation, new types of construction materials and customer expectations continue to drive these changes.   The four main factors for effective carpet cleaning will always play a critical role in the just how well the job gets done!   Finding the correct balance of “Cleaning Solution”, “Heat”, “Dwell Time” and “Mechanical Agitation” is the key to effective cleaning.

 

Simple Springtime Tips for Avoiding Injuries and Costly Home Repairs

Spring is a perfect time for exterior home inspectionSpring time weather has finally arrived here in the Pocono Mountains and surrounding areas of Northeast Pennsylvania making it a perfect time to perform a simple inspection that may save you from costly repairs and or injury.   Since you are most likely outside maintaining the lawn or planting flowers, an exterior check of your home’s perimeter is not that much more work if you know what you should be looking for.   A simple checklist, flashlight, pen and some paper are basically all you need.

   If you really want to get fancy, make 4 sections on your list and label them Electrical, Plumbing, Structural and Trip and Fall.   Some of the headings may cross cover similar areas to be inspected so items need only be listed once.

  • Structural
    • Look at decks, porches and overhangs for sagging ceilings, loose rails, boards and steps in disrepair.  Make sure the supporting posts are secure in the ground and not rotted out of the footing.
    • Examine the foundation for cracks and bulges.   Retaining walls should be checked and have no buckling or loose sections.  Make sure all drainage ports are clear of debris as rainwater and melting snow and ice may be a potential cause of collapse or water seepage into your home.   Look at the sill and inspect for rot and insects.
    • Look at the roofing checking for moss and other debris on the roof.    Check for cracks, crumbling or missing shingles, wood rot and other damaged areas where a breach may be forming.    Pay careful attention under trees.
    • On the sides check for missing brick mortar, peeling paint, or stucco for cracking.  Check for loose shingles and siding.   Make sure flashings are in good shape and they are not missing or not peeling up.
    • Examine the chimney for leaning or missing brick.    Check the flashing, access doors and chimney caps for damaged or missing parts.  Use a mirror to check for blockages.
    • Check gutters and downspouts for leaves and debris, leaks, loose mountings and missing or separated sections.   Staining on the siding could be a sign of a water or roof problem.
  • Broken electrical fixtureElectrical
    • Check trees around the house to be sure they’re not threatening wires.
    • Check for loose receptacles, busted outlet covers and loose electrical boxes.   Pay attention to receptacles and fixtures for scorch marks, they may be a sign of loose and corroded wiring.
    • GFCI outlets can be tested by plugging in a hair dryer or lamp and then hitting the test and reset buttons to see if the device loses power.
    • Check landscaping lights for exposed wiring.
    • Inspect the electrical meter and service entrance for signs of wear, damage, sparking and overheating.
    • Make sure any trees around the house are not threatening overhead wires.
  • Damaged well capPlumbing
    • Check for leaking pipes, they are a potential source of rot, staining and other costly problems.   Inspect spigots, garden hoses and nozzles for water leaks as damage causing insects are attracted by moisture.   Water bills may be significantly affected too.
    • Check areas around wells covers for damage, debris and pinched wiring.   Well water tanks and exposed plumbing can be inspected for leaks.
    • Septic systems can be costly to repair so be sure to inspect sand mounds and tank areas for unusual amounts of moisture or seepage.   Check cleanouts, caps and covers to make sure they are secure and in good condition.   Holding tanks usually need pumping every 2-3 years and a professional septic service company can set you up on a maintenance schedule based on your equipment.
    • Inspect air conditioning and heat pump units for proper condensate drainage.   Check for debris, bushes or trees that may be touching the units.
  • Trip and Fall
    • Check for cracks in asphalt or concrete on driveway, sidewalks, and paths.   These tripping hazards can collect water that will do more damage during the colder months.
    • Check for sufficient and malfunctioning lighting.
    • Look around fences and gates for sharp edges, loose parts and leaning.
    • Check that landscape barriers are secure in the ground and that wiring or plumbing is covered or guarded.
    • Look for rotten or damaged trees and branches that might be knocked down wind or the weight of rainwater.
    • Exterior and interior entrance matting should be inspected for rips, tears, soil and general condition.   Proper entrance matting inside and outside entryways can reduce the potential for slipping, tripping and falling.   A professional carpet cleaning service can assist you in not only housekeeping but in selecting the proper floor mat.

Don’t be afraid to add more items to your list as you see fit.   Your home is a major investment and nothing is too small to be overlooked.   Most importantly keep your eyes open for anything unusual and out of the ordinary.   Consult a professional service company for any concerns, most offer free estimates.   If you have any suggestions please let us know as we would like to hear from you.   Contact us at info@procleaner.biz.

Education, Certification and Today’s Carpet Cleaning Industry

IICRC Certified FirmOne of the top 3 trends in the carpet care industry today is training. New cleaning techniques, environmental regulations, face fiber compositions and developments in manufacturing almost command the need for staying educated. Certifying bodies and organizations dedicated to improving the cleaning industry are a great way for carpet cleaners and building maintenance professionals to keep pace with the latest innovations.

Aside from the soft feel and insulating properties associated with carpets, they are also a common source for dust mites, soils, allergens and other contaminants.    Carpets and rugs also become visibly soiled from time to time and require periodic maintenance.    Just as your car and other expensive investments require some professional TLC in order to extend their lifespan, carpets too need attention.   It really does make sense to hire a trained and knowledgeable professional.  

Some consumers think that using a rented grocery store carpet cleaning machine and a little bit of laundry detergent is all you need in order to tidy up filthy floors.   However, different fiber compositions and evolving technologies add challenges to an ever changing floor covering industry.   The main goals for the cleaning industry are to create safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly products and technologies that will keep carpets lasting longer, looking cleaner between cleanings and ensure a safe consumer and environmental experience.   Understanding these concepts requires a dedication to continuing education.

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration and Certification(IICRC) is just one of a few respected educational organizations for cleaning and restoration companies.   Certified firms are required to maintain two continuing education credits every four years.   But education is just one consideration when choosing a professional cleaning firm.     It’s also a good idea to consult your manufacturer’s warranty to understand what’s recommended to keep your carpet in good repair.   

Why Carpet Cleaning needs to be part of Spring Cleaning Routine

Children playing on clean carpetSpring is known throughout history and in most cultures as a time for purification, renewal and rejuvenation.   Aside from all the religious and pagan rituals citing spring as a time for purification, health should be a main reason for having your carpet and upholstery professionally cleaned.

After being cooped up with winters accumulating soil and germs it’s finally time to open the windows and let in some fresh air.   Carpeted floors and upholstered furniture all act like large air filters collecting any particulate soil that comes floating by.    Rugs, carpets and entry mats are considered the lungs of the house as most nasty allergy causing agents and other contaminants fall to the lowest point.   Studies have shown that inside air can be 5 times more toxic than outside air.

In addition to making your expensive home interior investments just look clean remember this; hair sprays, perfumes, common dirt, germs, spills, winter slush and other nasty substances have gathered and nested in your textiles for the last few months.   It’s time to remove these potentially harmful materials for an effective and healthy “spring cleaning”.

Choosing a true and trained cleaning professional can ensure a deeper cleaning and properly filtered equipment to eliminate soils from becoming airborne again while using safer and more effective cleaning solutions.   Just think of the cost of renting or purchasing a DIY carpet cleaner, the gas to get there, purchasing the detergents and selecting the proper carpet and fabric protectors and other specialty agents.   Then you still need to move the furniture and do the cleaning.  Hiring a reputable carpet cleaning company will actually save you time, money and aggravation in the long run while getting better results.  

On the subject of fabric upholstery, a thorough dry vacuuming is your first line of defense.   But it is important to make sure your vacuum cleaner is not blowing the soil back into the air.   Truck mounted cleaning systems have their vacuums located externally and therefore all soils are safely removed and collected outside the home.   If you decide to shampoo the furniture yourself make yourself aware of the manufacturer’s recommended instructions for cleaning.   Always check for the following codes as they each represent a recommended cleaning method;

  • “X” – Vacuum Only
  • “W” –  Wet Clean
  • “S” – Dry Clean
  • “W/S” – Wet or Dry Clean

Make carpet and upholstery cleaning an important part of your spring program.   Clean for health as well as aesthetics.    Above all read your manufacturer’s warranty and always follow their recommendations.

The Worst Advice we’ve ever heard about Carpet Cleaning

Clean carpet in rollsBeing an IICRC certified carpet cleaning firm and celebrating 24 years in business this month, we have heard a few old wives tales that are common misconceptions circulating throughout our industry.   Among all the many myths about carpet are concerns over proper cleaning, especially expecting the carpet to soil more quickly after having it professionally cleaned.   That is the Worst Advice we’ve ever heard and we call it rapid re-soiling.
From time to time we encounter a customer who has put off cleaning their carpets for many years, believing that after cleaning their floor covering it will become soiled more quickly.   This is very far from the truth and when properly cleaned, rinsed and maintained, there is no evidence to support this belief.    I can’t stress enough, the importance of the word “properly”.  

Some of the factors contributing to Rapid Re-soiling are:

  • Dry soil removal prior to wet cleaningvacuuming all particulate soil prior to wet cleaning is a very important step.    Remaining dry soils in the carpet can wick back up to the tips of the carpet yarns as they dry.   Thus we have the appearance that the carpet became dirty again after a few hours.
  • Type of cleaning solution used oil and water do not mix.   Using the wrong solutions can leave behind oily soils which may not become visible until a few days later.   The oils attract and trap dry soil passing over the carpet fibers and result in a dingy appearance after a short period of time.   Some high Ph cleaners and silicone based protectors can actually cause a condition known as “yellowing”.
  • Failure to rinserinse agents are employed to neutralize the remaining soapy residue some cleaning agents can leave behind.   Soap residue attracts and collects dirt from the bottom of shoes resulting in clean shoes and a dirty floor.    
  • Drying timedrying time may vary with environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity and air flow.   However it is essential to extract as much moisture from the carpet as possible.   Extended drying times contribute to wicking and can leave carpet looking filthy after they dry.

There are other conditions which can result in a rapidly re-soiling carpet however these are the most common.   Do your homework before hiring a carpet cleaner.   Read the manufacturer’s warranty for important and helpful information.   Also read the ”5 Questions to ask before hiring a Carpet Cleaner”.