Carpet offers many advantages over other flooring systems, such as reduced fatigue, sound absorption, and lower life cycle costs. From the start, the carpet maintenance program should be considered part of the carpet buying decision. If proper maintenance is neglected, the carpet's appearance will suffer, shortening the carpet's useful life and raising long-term costs. A comprehensive carpet care program* consists of four elements: |
-Reduction of soil entering the building
-Removal of dry soil
-Removal of spots and spills
-Cleaning by hot water extraction
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The importance of planning
Carpet maintenance must be established as a scheduled program, rather than being a random series of reactions to soiling conditions and infrequent cleaning. Virtually every complaint of poor appearance, rapid soiling, and many times poor performance has been shown to be related to a lack of planning and control for the maintenance program.
The most important consideration when planning a maintenance program is the budget. Like other expensive furnishings or equipment, carpet represents a substantial investment for any facility and deserves adequate care to prolong its effective life. If the carpet maintenance budget is set unrealistically low, the carpet will need to be replaced prematurely. Other items to consider are the amount of traffic and type of soiling, which will vary by area. Due to the higher traffic level, entrance lobbies, elevators, and hallways will need more care than offices. Food service areas and outside entrances will require more effort due to the more difficult soiling conditions.
Please note that the information in this booklet pertains to most carpets made of synthetic or man-made fibers for commercial installations. However, it may not be suitable for wool and wool-blend carpets or custom-printed carpets. For these carpets, please refer to the appropriate brochure.
Reduction of soiling
The use of walk-off mats at transition areas from hard surface to carpet is important. Walk-off mats can greatly reduce the amount of soil entering a facility by normal traffic. They are also necessary at service entrances with direct contact to the outside, from the hard surface area in a kitchen to the carpet dining area in a restaurant, or at entrances from plant facilities into the offices.
The choice of mats is important because, although cheaper mats may initially do the job, they will not stand up to the demands of a commercial location and are a poor investment. Walk-off mats fall into two categories, those designed to remove and trap gritty soil and those intended to absorb water during wet weather.
Good soil removal mats have a coarse texture and are able to brush soil from shoes and hold large amounts in the pile. "Waterhog" brand mats produced by Anderson are an excellent example of this type of mat. They have the added ability to accept logos and insignias as inlays in the mats.
The water absorbent mat must be used inside, either full time or at least during wet weather, to prevent the moisture from getting to the carpet. A wet carpet acts like a giant shoe cleaner, so it soils more rapidly. When both types of mats are used in combination, they should always be placed so that incoming traffic passes over the soil removal mat first, because the absorbent types have very little soil holding ability.
For mats to continue to trap soil, they should be cleaned on a regular basis more frequently than the carpet. If the accumulation of soil is not removed, the mat will become overloaded and be unable to prevent soil from entering the building. When a building is new or still under construction, soil may be tracked in from unfinished grounds so that mats need to be cleaned more often.
Removal of dry soil
Vacuuming is the most significant element in the maintenance of carpet and the overall appearance of the facility. Research has shown that 85% of the soil tracked into a building is dry, and the other 15% is oily. Vacuums are designed to control this dry soil. Frequent vacuuming removes particulate soil from the surface before it works down into the pile where it is more difficult to remove. Walking on the carpet accelerates the rate at which the particles get deep into the pile. Heavily trafficked areas, such as entrances and major corridors, should be vacuumed at least once a day. Areas with less traffic, such as offices, should be vacuumed every other day depending upon conditions.
Vacuum Cleaner Recommendations:
Vacuums should have dual motors one to drive the source of agitation or vibration which loosens the soil, and one to drive the vacuum fan which creates the suction which picks up the particles. This prevents the vacuum from losing efficiency as the beater bar/brush becomes slowed by excessive debris or as the bag fills. Dual motor vacuums also survive the demands of a commercial location and last longer than single motor vacuums.
For carpet tile and carpets that are glued directly to the floor without cushion, a vacuum with a rotating brush, rather than a beater bar, should be used to agitate the pile and loosen the soil. Beater bars can damage the pile of direct-glued carpet if the machine height adjustment is set too low. This can also damage the vacuum.
Vacuums with beater bars should be used for carpet installed over pad, or with attached cushions. The beater bar vibrates the carpet/pad assembly to loosen the soil. These vacuums are also recommended for double stick installations where the carpet is glued to the pad.
Bags that fill from the top are preferred over those that fill from the bottom. As the bag fills, it does not add to the load on the vacuum motor. Bags should be checked frequently and replaced when to 2/3 full. When changing bags, also check the belt and replace if loose or worn. Replaceable paper bags or paper liners for cloth bags are better filters than cloth bags alone because they can trap more of the small particles that cloth bags allow to pass back into the air. Some vacuums can also be used with micro-filtration or high efficiency bags; these capture even smaller particles, which tend to be related to allergy complaints, and can also reduce the need for dusting.
A cheap vacuum cleaner is a poor investment, delivering marginal performance that results in reduced carpet life. A hundred dollars of savings in the price of a vacuum could easily cost thousands of dollars in reduced useful life of the carpet.
Between cleanings, regular use of a pile lifter can remove deeply imbedded dry sand and soil, help stand up the pile, and renew the appearance of the carpet in high traffic areas such as traffic funnel zones, elevators, and lobbies. A pile lifter is an upright two-motor vacuum with a large, adjustable, gentle bristle brush with a motor, a high suction vacuum motor, and a sand trap. Using a pile lifter in traffic lanes just prior to cleaning will remove the deeply imbedded soil and open up the pile so the hot water extraction can be more effective. Another good use of a pile lifter is for post- construction cleanup. Vacuum first to pick up the larger sized chunks of dried mud, dirt, and construction debris. Then use a pile lifter to remove the fine particulates, such as dry wall dust, which are deep in the pile. After using a pile lifter, the final step--cleaning by hot water extraction to remove the residual soil will be less difficult.
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