Vacuum Cleaner selection is among the most important decisions you can make for your new carpet purchase. Many vacuum cleaners can damage the carpet pile fiber, when brush action is too aggressive. Also, vacuum cleaners advertising HEPA filtration may not extract dirt. A vacuum cleaner rating system is now being performed by the carpet industry that sets a pass/fail criteria for soil removal, filtration and damage to carpet fibers. |
The Vacuum Cleaner is the most important tool used in the maintenance of your new carpet. The majority of soil tracked into your home is insoluble dry soil and cannot be removed with wet cleaning. Dry soil is the most damaging type of soil because it cuts carpet fibers like a razor blade. This scarring leaves carpet fiber with a dingy appearance similar to the effects of scratching glass. The primary function of the vacuum cleaner is to remove dry soil.
The primary problem with selecting a vacuum cleaner is it is a blind purchase. In the past, consumers had to rely on the worn path of dubious marketing claims offered by vacuum cleaner manufacturers.
Even the testing performed by consumer groups like Consumer Reports does not rise to the level of good science. In the past, Consumer Reports used a vacuum cleaner test procedure developed by vacuum cleaner manufacturers which had a 65% standard deviation of results, so a vacuum cleaner could remove anywhere from 25 grams to 90 grams of 100 grams of test soil and the results were considered identical. In 1996, when we began work on a Carpet industry test method for rating vacuum cleaners, we visited the Consumer Reports Test Facility in Yonkers NY. We were stunned to find that the environmental chamber they used for vacuum cleaner filtration/particle emissions testing amounted to plastic sheeting draped from the acoustical ceiling tiles in the Consumer reports lunchroom.
The carpet industry recognized that if the vacuum cleaner industry would not initiate a reliable test method for assessing vacuum cleaner performance, the carpet industry would have to initiate it's own test procedure. After all, it the carpet industry's product that was being harmed by improper maintenance equipment. Vacuum Cleaner Rating
The Vacuum Cleaner Testing Program established a minimum soil removal standard (unknown to the consumer) and assigns a pass/fail rating based on the amount of soil removed.
The second criterion for this vacuum-testing program is damage to the pile fiber by overly-aggressive vacuum brushes. Testing revealed that stiff vacuum cleaner brushes can fray, disentangle, and permanently damage pile fibers. In some instances, a few weeks of vacuum cleaner use with a non-conforming vacuum cleaner can simulate the effects of more than a year of foot traffic.
The final criterion is particulate emissions. It appears as if every vacuum cleaner manufacturer is selling indoor air quality, allergen reduction, and health attributes of their unit, but there was no reliable test method of evaluating these claims. Carpet industry testing revealed that some vacuum cleaners making these filtration claims removed very little soil. In essence a vacuum cleaner that removes no soil, filters every thing that is removed, right? Wow- that's 100% filtration effectiveness , isn't it? This statement may not be very far from the truth for some vacuum cleaners. Also, by placing a high filtration bag on an ordinary unit, filtration may be improved, but soil removal may be negatively affected. In some cases, these high filtration bags reduce airflow (suction) created by the vacuum cleaner motor, reduces soil removal, creates a back flow or resistance on the motor. The backflow resistance on the vacuum cleaner motor can shorten vacuum cleaner motor life. The CRI program established a maximum emission of 65 micrograms of particles per cubic meter of air. Current indoor standards have been set somewhere around 100 micrograms per cubic meter of air. This will help ensure that the vacuum cleaner operator is subjected to less dust than is normally found indoors.
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