Trouble Spots and Repairs

Although most carpet and upholstery cleaning companies make no guarantees on stains, skilled technicians can completely remove many spots and repair carpets so well that it is difficult to tell the carpet was ever damaged. Before replacing a damaged or soiled carpet, consider spot removal and/or a repair.

Spots vs. stains. The use of the terms ‘spot’ and ‘stain’ are not interchangeable. A stain refers to soiling that has actually altered the dye of the carpet fibers. Stains are usually permanent. Basic spots, however, will often be removed during the normal carpet cleaning process. However, before any work begins, point out all known soiled areas to the technician. Different spots require different cleaning processes and products. Many special spot-removing products are on the market; professional carpet and upholstery cleaners know which one(s) to use for which soiled areas.

Urine. The smell of pet urine is very difficult to eliminate because urine crystals can persist for up to 20 years on the carpet backing. The smell seems to return each spring and summer as increased humidity causes the urine crystals to dissolve, and odor-causing molecules become airborne again. Traditionally, fixing this problem was difficult, but currently, some carpet cleaning companies use special enzymes to treat urine spots. Other companies use water and special high-vacuum equipment.

Reappearing spots. Two common causes of reappearing spots are wicking and resoiling. If a liquid-based process removes a spot from the surface fibers but not from the carpet backing, wicking may occur as the liquid evaporates. As liquid evaporates off the top of individual carpet fibers, it carries the spot up from deeper in the carpet by wicking up the fibers and then evaporates. The spot is left behind and therefore seems to reappear in the first few days to a week after cleaning.

Resoiling is the other common cause of reappearing spots. As some cleaning detergents and chemicals dry, they become chemically sticky and may actually attract dirt. If these cleaning detergents or chemicals are not removed by rinsing, the carpet may quickly resoil, as new dirt becomes stuck to the residue left behind. The spot usually takes a few weeks to appear.

Spot dyeing. Spot dyeing is the most common carpet repair and is used when a carpet has lost color. By applying special dyes, a skilled technician can permanently change the color of a problem spot to closely match the color of the surrounding carpet.

Restretching. Manufacturing problems, installation problems, or post-installation damage may cause a carpet to lose its stretch and develop bumps or wrinkles. If the carpet is delaminated or permanently damaged, restretching is not an option. However, in many cases, restretching permanently fixes the problem. Because power stretching delivers a better stretch than some other restretching methods, your technician should use that method.

Patching. Patching is an option for areas where carpet fibers have been permanently damaged, such as where a hot iron has accidentally melted the carpet. The technician cuts out the damaged portion of the carpet and replaces it with a piece of the same carpet, which is usually removed from a closet or other area that is not visible. Depending on pile length, results vary.