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Believe it or not, there really isn't a mystery at all! The following insight is something that we share with our customers all of the time and in almost every case, you can almost see and hear the bells and whistles going off as they recognize the truth behind the carpet stain.
When you have a spill onto the carpet, most folks understand the need to address it right away. First, we run and grab a damp cloth. For added measure, a trip to the cabinet under the kitchen sink to locate the latest and greatest miracle product advertised on cable television. With a sigh of relief, we step back and admire our handiwork with great confidence that the spill has been addressed and that there will be no stain in our future.
Unfortunately, within a few days or sometimes even a few hours, we happen to notice that even though the carpet has dried, the area is maybe a shade or two darker than the surrounding carpet with little or no improvement in the hours and days ahead. This is when most people will start to investigate to see what the manufacturer recommends for cleaning their respective carpet product. Of course, in a perfect world, this should have been accomplished at the beginning of this story and not in the third paragraph, right?
The next step may be to call in the professionals. At the very least, a trip to the local grocery store for the rental carpet shampoo machine may be preferred method. Thereafter, we can typically see results and feel pretty good about the carpet for at least a few days or maybe even a few weeks. Then, one day as you are walking through the room, you catch something odd or different out of the corner of your eye and realize that the stain is back!
The reality is that the true stain never really left at all. Instead, it was lurking just below the soft side of your carpet waiting to rear its' ugly head once again. I use the term "haunting" quite often to describe how carpet stains will continue to come back time and time again despite your efforts to clean them once and for all.
OK, here comes the solving of the mystery. The stain isn't just in your carpet. It's also in your cushion and your subfloor down below. Even if you have a concrete slab, concrete is very porous and will absorb spills. Despite your efforts to remove the spill initially and to address the stain later, chances are that you will never truly remove the cause of the stain from these hidden areas.
There is really only one way to absolutely ensure that the stain will not continue to "haunt" you time and time again:
First, you disconnect the carpet from the tack strip at the perimeter edge and pull it back so that the affected area is exposed. What you may notice is that the stain appears larger on the cushion than maybe what you remembered the original spill size to have been. That's because the cushion is like a big sponge causing the original spill to spread out as the cushion absorbed the liquid well beyond what you saw up top.
Next, you must remove the affected area of cushion and treat the subfloor with a stain blocking primer. This will stop the stain from continuing to resurface. Now, you simply replace the area with new cushion and reattach the carpet...provided that you have the proper equipment and experience. This is a project where hiring the professional makes the most sense.
Mystery solved! No more stain lurking down below just waiting to pop back up and surprise you. The only question left to answer is "how could this have been prevented?!". You could disallow kids, pets, husbands, etc from entering the carpeted areas in order to avoid these pesky spills and stains but that probably isn't very practical. Instead, I am a big believer in utilizing a cushion with a moisture barrier. Granted, there is an additional cost involved but I prefer to look at it as an investment, not an expense. Realistically, you're probably only looking at a few pennies per square foot unless you opt for one of the much more expensive versions.
With the moisture barrier in place to protect your cushion and subfloor, you now have the ability to extract the spill from the carpet once and for all without the threat of the stain resurfacing and "haunting" you over and over again!
Remember to always familiarize yourself with the manufacturer's care and handling instructions AND warranty requirements before you actually need them. The really good news is that all of this valuable information is readily available 24/7 via the manufacturer's website so you don't even have to keep track of those pamphlets like we used to before the internet came along!
Be sure to join us next time for our new topic...Understanding Your Flooring Warranty.
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The Mystery Behind Carpet Stains
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