Having new carpet installed should be an exciting time, with new, clean flooring to brighten up a home. For many consumers, though, it’s turned into a nightmare of skin rashes and sinus problems. Studies haven’t found conclusive answers for the problem yet, but a few theories and tips can help protect buyers.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has registered over 500 complaints from consumers about health problems related to new carpet installations. These complaints include rashes on the skin as well as watery eyes, runny nose, a burning sensation in the nasal passages, headaches and fatigue. About half those complaining reported they hadn’t had previous allergy trouble.
CPSC studies haven’t found proof of a specific chemical responsible for new carpet rashes and other health problems. The theory, however, is that 4-phenyl cyclohexene (4-PC) may cause most of the trouble. 4-PC is a byproduct of styrene butadiene rubber, which is used in most carpet backing materials and is a known skin, nose and eye irritant. No one is sure why some people are affected and others aren’t.
According to the CPSC, a few precautions make new carpet installation safer. Talk to the installer about using green label carpet, low-emitting adhesives and following industry installation guidelines. Ask the installer to unroll the carpet in another area and let it air out before bringing it into the home. Use fans and open windows to ventilate the area of carpet installation, both during installation and for two to three days afterward. Leave the home during installation, and follow all manufacturer’s guidelines for new carpet maintenance. If odors continue after a few days, contact the carpet retailer.
Many parents think carpet is the best flooring choice for a home with children, since children spend so much time on the floor and need a soft surface. However, a child’s small size and undeveloped immune system may make him more susceptible to new carpet chemicals and allergens trapped in carpet fibers. Hard floors covered with rugs that can be removed for thorough cleaning may be a better choice.
For someone who is susceptible to allergies, carpet may not be the best flooring choice even after the new carpet fumes dissipate. Carpet fibers trap household dust, which may contain dust mites, pesticides, cleaning chemicals or lead. Some of this dust remains in the carpet even with regular vacuuming, and it can aggravate allergies or asthma. Allergy sufferers may be happier with hardwood or laminate flooring.
Fraying carpet is a common problem at thresholds, transition areas and poorly installed carpet seams. Constant foot traffic or movement from furniture can make the fraying worse. You can prevent further fraying at these areas by repairing them quickly. Areas where carpet meets a hard surface such as tile or wood take a lot of abuse and fraying can be stopped by covering the transition area with a transition strip, also called a carpet bar. Repairing a frayed carpet seam can be done with hot melt seam tape and a seam iron.
Things You’ll Need
Hot melt carpet seam tape
Small board for the seam iron
Fraying Carpet at Seams
Separate the yarn at the frayed seam with your hands so you can view the seam.
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Cut through the seam tape used to hold the frayed seam together and remove it. Cut the tape at each end and only remove the portion of tape where the seam is frayed. Use a sharp utility knife to accomplish this. Cut the tape, not the pad.
Trim away any loose or frayed yarn from the carpet edges. Use sharp scissors to make a clean cut.
Measure the length of the open seam and cut a length of hot melt seam tape to match.
Lift the carpet and slip the seam tape under the carpet, adhesive side up. Center the tape between the two carpet edges.
Pre-heat the seam iron to the temperature the tape manufacturer recommends. Wear work gloves to protect your hands from burns while using the seam iron.
Lift one side of the carpet and touch the iron to a corner of the hot melt tape. Heat the tape about 30 seconds — the glue needs to melt — and drop the carpet down over the melted spot.
Draw the seam iron down the length of the seam. Work in 1 foot increments pushing the seam together from both sides. Work behind the iron and press the carpet into the melted adhesive with your free, gloved hand.
Walk on the seam to further secure the seam. Applying a carpet roller to the seam also helps adhere the glue to the seam.
Fraying Carpet at Thresholds
Examine the spot where the carpet is fraying and identify the floor surface the carpet transitions to. Each type of floor combination will require a different type of transition trim.
Measure the width of the threshold or door opening where the carpet frays, and the thicknesses of each surface. The measurements will dictate the type and length of transition trim you need to purchase.
Measure any open space between the fraying carpet and the opposing surface. There does not need to be a space between the surfaces to use a transition strip. However, if a space does exist, you will need to know its width in order to purchase the best trim for your carpet problem. Some transition strips sit between the two floor surfaces, some slip under and over the carpet and allow the tile or hard surface to butt against the trim and some act as a dome to cover both surfaces.
Go to a home remodeling or hardware store to buy the transition strip. Use the data you have collected to select a trim to cover the fraying. For instance, a transition strip known as a carpet to tile reducer may only work when the tile is an eight of an inch thick and the carpet is no more than a quarter of an inch thick. Knowing the details of your fraying problem can help you make the right decisions while shopping.
Install the transition trim. Transition trim kits usually contain screws or other items needed to complete the installation or provide instructions that list the type of nail, screw or glue you need. Trim away frayed yarn with scissors before installing the transition strip.
Do not trim the frayed carpet with scissors if the carpet is still under warranty. Fraying in other areas of the room may indicate a problem with the carpet. Review the warranty and contact the dealer or manufacturer to discuss a solution. Check the furniture for exposed wood or metal that might be fraying the carpet. Look at the legs and feet and turn the furniture over to view the bottom of the feet. Exposed nails and missing hardware can snag and fray carpet. Repair the furniture and the fraying will end. Hot melt seam tape hardens in a few minutes. Ask someone to assist you with the seam pressing if you cannot work fast enough to heat and press the seam.
How to Combine Two Different Styles of In-Home Carpet
Carpeting is comfortable to walk and sit on, and there are endless choices of colors and textures. If you’ve chosen several styles of carpet for rooms within your home, you’ll likely be faced with the challenge of transitioning from one to the other between rooms or at the entry to a foyer, hall or stairs. There are several ways to combine two different styles of carpet without an awkward transition.
Opt for a simple seam between carpet styles. Your carpet installer can cut the two types of carpet and install them so that they meet at a flush, clean seam. Typically this seam occurs at a doorway opening, so it will be only a few feet wide. This option works well for carpets that are dramatically different in color and texture, and for less public areas of your home, such as hall to bedroom transitions.
Install a transition strip, available in rubber, vinyl and wood. Depending on the thickness of your two carpets, choose a transition that won’t cause anyone to trip and potentially injure themselves. The best transition strip between different types of carpets is a threshold made of wood or stone. Install a strip the width of the door or wall opening to bridge the two styles of carpet. The result is a defined edge that adds a polished look to your space.
Combine carpet styles to make a design statement. Rather than delegating the two carpet styles to different spaces, try combining them together for a dramatic look. Use one carpet style as a border, and use a lighter or more simple carpet as the main field color for the room. Define a conversation area in a living space by using a different color or texture of carpet, much like a rug.
For particularly challenging layouts, consult an interior designer to help you decide how to transition between carpet styles.
Hire a professional to install the carpet to insure that the seams are as neat as possible, unless you have prior experience installing carpet.
Use furniture or rugs to disguise or distract from awkward carpet style transitions.
How to Tuck a Carpet
Flooring transitions can be tricky to negotiate. When a floor transitions at a threshold from wood or tile to carpeting, the carpeting may need to be tucked to provide a seamless transition from one type of flooring to another. This especially holds true when the carpet is preexisting and the solid-surface flooring is the latest addition. Tucking the carpet and making the transition a professional-looking one, however, is easily done with the assistance of a few basic tools and a little time.
Things You’ll Need
Carpet tack strip
¾-inch subfloor nails
Measure the width of the door threshold. Cut the carpet tack strip to the measurement with a hacksaw. Fold the existing carpet and pad back approximately 1 inch from the threshold. Set the tack strip down approximately ½-inch away from the hard floor surface. Affix the tack strip to the floor using subfloor nails and a hammer.
Measure the carpet padding. Use a carpet blade to cut the padding back about ¼-inch from the tack strip. Be careful not to remove too much of the padding. Do not cut the carpet.
Fold the carpet over the tack strip. Place most of your weight on your hand over the tack strip area. Tap the carpet kicker to stretch the carpet in place over the padding and tack strip. Apply pressure downward on the carpet when stretching it so that it adheres to the tack strip. Work slowly, starting from the right of the entryway to the left, nudging the carpet into place every 4 or 5 inches. Once finished, run the blunt end of your hammer over the tack-stripped area to ensure the best grip.
Trim the carpet back before tucking it. The amount of carpet requiring trim will depend considerably on the thickness of the carpet and how far it was stretched over the tack strip. Make a point to leave about a quarter of an inch overlapping the hard-surface flooring before tucking it in place.
Tuck the carpet in between the tack strip and the hardwood with a hook knife using gentle pressure. Once you have covered the doorway, the project is completed.
You can rent carpet installation tools from most hardware or home improvement stores.
Use extreme caution when cutting with carpet blades as they are extremely sharp.
How to Edge Trim Carpet Along a Wall
Edging carpet along a wall is perhaps the most important part of carpet installation. A messy or lumpy carpet edge is easily noticeable, and may get worse with time. Fortunately, you can trim and edge carpet yourself in just a few minutes, using a few simple carpet installation tools. With the right preparation, you can create a seamless carpeted edge against a wall, and you won’t have to hide your work later with strategically placed furniture.
Things You’ll Need
Cardboard or wooden scraps
Measure the thickness of your carpet with a measuring tape, and make a spacer about ¼ inch thinner than the carpet. Use cardboard or wood scraps to make the spacer.
Place the spacer against the wall, and line up tackless strips along the wall, held away from the wall by the spacer. Nail the tackless strips in place with a hammer, with the tacks angled toward the wall. If necessary, cut the tackless strips to fit with a handsaw, taking care to avoid the sharp tacks with your fingers.
Cut the carpet pad under the carpet with a utility knife so that it ends flush against the edge of the tackless strip.
Measure the carpet against the wall, and trim the carpet with your utility knife so that there is just enough carpet to fold over the top of the tackless strip into the space between the strip and the wall.
Stretch the trimmed carpet edge over the tackless strip, and push the carpet into the space between the strip and the wall with a putty knife.
When to Use a Carpet Seam Roller
Most carpet installations require that two pieces of carpet align and attach to each other. The joint where the two pieces of carpet meet is called a seam. Seams are often glued together; however, the installer must bring the carpet pile together for the seam to show as little as possible. One of the tools used to bring the carpet pile together during the seaming process is called a seam roller.
Living room interior
A carpet roller makes carpet seams nearly invisible. (Image: Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)
How a Seam Roller Works
A seam roller is a hand tool that contains two small metal axles that have toothed metal wheels attached to them. Each axle is set on a pivot that allows the seam roller to put pressure on the carpet seam. When the installer aligns the center of the seam roller with the seam, the wheels push the carpet seam together and blend the pile from both carpet pieces together on the seam.
Why Use a Seam Roller
If the installer simply puts a carpet seam together by hand during a carpet installation, any imperfections in the seam become readily apparent. Likewise, the seam will likely be visible since the carpet pile was not blended together during the seaming process. The seam may also come loose; by contrast, a seam roller applies pressure to the seaming tape or seaming adhesive during the adhesive’s curing or cool-down processes, securing the seam in place.
Padded Carpet Installation
Whether the installation is over tackless strip and padding or directly glued to the floor, an installer should use a seam roller every time he joins two pieces of carpet together to form one contiguous piece of carpet. For a padded installation, he should use a seam roller to apply pressure to a seam made using a seaming iron and hot-melt seaming tape. This allows the seam to lie flat and the carpet pile to come together once the seaming tape cools down completely.
While the installer attaches carpet pieces in a glue-down installation directly to the floor, it is still critical that he use a seam roller on any seams made on a glue-down installation. Like the padded carpet installation, the seam roller will apply pressure to the seam while bringing the carpet pile together. This has the net effect of presenting a flat seam that is difficult to see once the carpet glue cures completely.
How to Install Attached Pad Carpets
Attached pad carpets or integral-pad carpets as they’re also known are simply pieces of carpet that have a carpet pad attached to their back. Installing an attached pad carpet takes half the time (or less) of attaching a carpet without the attached padding, because you don’t have to measure, cut or install the padding separately. Plan to kneel for a long time as you install your carpets: You might want to invest in a good pair of knee pads or use an extra scrap of carpet to kneel on and protect your knees. This type of carpeting can be installed on any clean, dry and level surface.
Things You’ll Need
Knee pads or scrap carpeting
Sharp utility knife
Measure the area to be carpeted.
Use a utility knife to cut your attached pad carpeting to 1 inch larger on each side than the measurement you took. So, for example, if you were going to carpet an area 78 inches across, you’d cut the carpet for that area to be 80 inches across; one inch extra on each side.
Lay the carpet out on the surface to be carpeted.
Kneel near the edge of your carpeting and pull the edge of the carpet back.
Apply an even strip of carpet tape, which is basically a strong two-sided adhesive, along the floor’s edge where the carpet will lay.
Remove the paper backing from the carpet tape, revealing the upward-facing adhesive.
Drop the carpet back into place over the carpet tape and smooth it into place along the entire length of the tape.
Trim any extra carpeting away with a utility knife.
Repeat this process with all other edges of the carpeting. Peel the carpet back, apply carpeting tape, replace the carpet and press it into place, then trim away any extra carpeting.
You can conceal the edges of the carpet with a baseboard if you so desire.
The sharper the utility knife or shears you use to cut the carpeting, the cleaner and more even the cut edges will be.
If you’re putting together more than one piece of carpet, make sure their piles run in the same direction. In other words, when you run your hand across both pieces of carpet in one direction, it should smooth the fibers down. Running your hand across both pieces in the opposite direction should raise the fibers up like the fur on a dog’s back.
The Best Way to Install Prepadded Carpet
Carpet with attached padding is less expensive than purchasing carpet and separate padding. It’s also a money-saving option with regard to installation. Carpet with padding takes less time to install than padding and carpet separately, and it takes less tools. Carpet with attached padding is a project most DIYers are comfortable doing, creating an even bigger savings by skipping installation fees altogether.
Things You’ll Need
Needle nose pliers
Double stick tape
Measure the width and length of the room. Take the measurement to the center of doorways rather than the edges of the walls, and remember to measure the depth of closets in the room as well. Add approximately 5 inches on all sides to determine how much carpet to purchase.
Remove the baseboards from the room using a crow bar to pry them gently from the wall. If you’ll be reinstalling the same baseboards, number the backs of each board for easy installation. Take off any doors that open into the room by pulling out the hinge pins on the hinges. If the hinges stick, place a flat-head screwdriver against the cap on the top of the hinge and tap the screwdriver gently with a hammer.
Pull up the existing carpet and pad. Cut the carpet and pad into manageable sizes with a sharp utility knife. Pry up the tack strips with a crow bar and pull up all carpet staples with needle nose pliers.
Sweep the floor several times, and then vacuum thoroughly.
Lay a line of double stick tape around the parameter of the room with the paper facing up. Add 12 x 12 “X” shapes of double stick tape every four feet in all directions. Leave the paper backing on the tape.
Center the carpet in the room. Make sure the excess is enough to run up the wall.
Pull half of the carpet back on itself and pull off the paper backing to expose the adhesive on the tape. Place the carpet into position and pull the carpet smooth. Push wrinkles out from the center of the room and walk across the installed side to push the carpet pad securely into the adhesive tape.
Pull the other half of the carpet back and remove the paper from the tape on that half of the room. Push the wrinkles out of the carpet from the center, and lay the carpet into position. Walk across the room to push the carpet pad into the adhesive tape.
Trim the excess carpet with a sharp utility knife at the edge of the walls. Walk around the edges of the room to make sure the carpet pad is secured to the adhesive tape.
Create a straight edge when cutting the carpet to seam. Place a straight edge along the first section of carpet and cut with a sharp utility knife.
Make sure the section of carpet being seamed to the first piece runs the same direction. Lay the first piece over the second piece and use it as a guide to cut the second piece. This ensures the two cut pieces are identical.
Lay a line of double stick tape on the floor so the seam is centered on the tape. Use tape that’s at least 3 inches wide.
Apply seaming glue to the edges of the two pieces being seamed. Pull the paper backing off of the adhesive tape and lay the carpets into place, pushing the seams together with your fingers at the same time.
Can You Fireproof Carpet?
Safety is always the No. 1 priority for any family. This is especially true when it comes to fires. There are various fire retardant measures that reduce the chance of fire spreading out of control in a home. Fireproofing the home’s carpets is one preventative measure worth considering. While carpet can be treated with fire retardant chemicals upon installation or by the homeowner, there is no completely fireproof carpet. Carpets and rugs that are considered “fireproofed” may have the ability to extinguish a small fire. However, in case of a strong fire, fireproofed carpets will only slow down the progress of fire.
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Fireproofed carpets are treated upon or after installation. The chemical used to fireproof carpets is the same chemical used to fireproof and treat mattresses. Two of the most reasonably priced chemicals include boric acid and boric anhydride. However, there are some concerns regarding the toxicity of these chemicals to humans. Homeowners considering fireproofing a newer carpet with a warranty should first check with the manufacturer before treatment to avoid having their warranty voided.
One simple and natural way to prevent and slow down fires from spreading in pre-existing, non-fireproofed carpet is to add a wool rug. These can be found in various colors, styles and prices. Wool is naturally fire resistant. Wool is also self-extinguishing in flames, and will burn slowly in case a fire does progress. Also, wool is water and stain resistant.
Residential Carpet Fibers
Homeowners shopping for new carpet should be aware of the different fibers available. Wool fibers are the most naturally fire resistant. Nylon is the second best choice. It has a higher melting point, burns and melts slowly, which makes it more fire resistant than other carpet made from synthetic materials. Nylon is also abrasion and crush resistant. Other carpet fibers include polyester and olefin; of the two, olefin is the least fire resistant and is extremely heat sensitive.
Home Fireproofing Tip
In additional to fireproofing a home’s carpets, there are other measures to take to prevent fire. Basic fire preventative steps to take include investing in a fire extinguisher, installing and checking all the smoke alarms, purchasing fireproofed furniture, properly maintaining the home’s furnace and regularly cleaning the lint trap in the dryer. Never leave candles unattended; never overload electrical wires and perform regular maintenance checks on all household appliances.
What Are Fire Blankets Made Of?
Fire blankets are used to extinguish small fires by depriving them of oxygen. They can be made from a variety of materials but they are always flame retardant or resistant.
Fiberglass is a fire-resistant material made from finely woven fibers of glass. Fire blankets made from fiberglass are most suitable to household fires that may start on clothing or in the kitchen.
Fire blankets made from wool are often treated with a flame retardant. They are usually kept on hand in laboratories and industrial environments where chemical and electrical fires are more likely.
Some newer fire blankets like the Titan21 are made from 100 percent cotton and treated with a nontoxic and biodegradable fire inhibitor instead of potentially harmful flame retardants.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that is very resistant to heat and fire, so it was frequently used in fire blankets. Deteriorating asbestos is very dangerous and causes significant damage when inhaled, so asbestos fire blankets should be disposed of with extreme caution and replaced with a safer material.
How to Test Kidde Smoke Alarms
Any home should have at least one smoke alarm to provide personal security in the case of a fire. Kidde is a manufacturer of smoke alarms that run off your home’s electricity and have a battery backup should the home happen to lose power. Kidde recommends a weekly fire alarm test to ensure safety for the home and family. Each Kidde fire alarm has a built-in testing feature which gives instant results.
Place a chair, stool, or other sturdy object beneath the Kidde alarm. Stand on the chair or stool to get easy access to the alarm.
Locate the “Test” button on the face of the alarm. The test button is the only visible button on the alarm.
Press and hold the “Test” button for a minimum of two seconds. As long as the alarm has power, the sound should activate automatically. Check the alarm’s batteries and the home’s circuit breaker box if the alarm doesn’t sound.
Press and hold the “Test” button for two seconds to deactivate the test.
The Average Cost of Carpet Replacement
Replacing a carpet can be a costly repair or upgrade for any homeowner. But how much does the average carpet replacement cost? Even though prices can vary based on location, there are standard steps taken during the replacement process that can affect the final price.
The average cost of the removal of old carpet can range between .35 cents to $2 per square foot depending on the cost of living and location. In a 1,000-square-foot home, carpet removal can cost $350 to $2,000 not including taxes and other fees.
The installation of new carpeting can be performed by a carpet installer at the site of purchase, independent carpet installer or yourself. The price can vary between $3 to $7 per square foot depending on the quality and type of carpet, size and shape of the room. Do-it-yourself installation can save approximately $1 per square foot.
Installing a carpet pad is not required, but will add to the life and durability of the carpet. Typical installation of carpet pad costs from $1 to $4 per square foot, but can potentially save money by extending the life of the carpet.
Carpet replacement does not include everything and may incur some additional costs. Some of these hidden fees can include moving of furniture, disposal of old carpeting and unusual shapes and corners in a room that add to the replacement time.
The best way to save money on carpet replacement is to perform some or all of the steps yourself. Even though most homeowners may not be able to install carpet easily, removal can be a simple process if the time and labor is invested.
Chemicals to Kill Fleas
If you ever felt the itch and scratch of flea bites on your skin, you also know the fight against fleas is just as irritable. Between pricey topical pet treatments and carpet sprays, pest control chemicals may also include the risk of high toxicity to animals and humans. Chemicals in flea control products help rid homes and pets of the blood-sucking pests. Grocery stores and pet supply shops carry an abundance of different flea prevention and killer aids. However, some chemicals only kill adults, which proves ineffective against flea eggs and larvae.
Products such as Frontline, Advantage and Revolution treat fleas living off a pet’s blood. These topical treatments kill fleas and prevent stage development for juvenile fleas. Active chemicals include fipronil, imidacloprid and selamectin. Fipronil combines with s-methoprene in Frontline to prevent fleas from maturing in the larval stage and kills adults.
Flea prevention also comes in the form of pills. Flea-dip pills, such as Capstar, use tablets made from a chemical called nitenpyram. This kills all fleas on pets for up to two hours after dosing. Capstar works on both dogs and cats. Sentinel is another flea-dip pill that only works on dogs.
For on-the-spot prevention and pesticide, flea killer sprays come in aerosol cans and bottles that disperse ingredients into the fibers of carpet and furniture. Products like Hot Shot and Raid both use aerosol and bottle flea killer. Active ingredients range from organic compounds like pyrethrins to permethrin and peperonyl butoxide. Sprays also contain the chemical pyriproxife. These ingredients deliver a concentrated dose of pesticide to fleas and other insects such as roaches. However, many of these sprays only kill adult fleas. Some floor sprays, such as Ultracide, contain egg-inhibiting chemicals as well.
Foggers or Bombs
In large areas such as living rooms and bedrooms, where fleas infest multiple spaces of carpet, foggers or flea bombs emit gas that settles on all surfaces and kills fleas on contact. Flea bombs contain ingredients like nylar, and kill fleas and also prevent larvae from maturing. The chemical gases tend to settle on all surfaces, however, which make using them in a home unsafe unless you clean extensively afterward.
In addition to topical treatments, pills, sprays and foggers, yard control becomes necessary when dealing with fleas. Flea yard controls contain a variety of active chemicals that range in their toxicity and threat to other life forms. Concern Citrus Home Pest Control contains d-limonene, which has a low to moderate toxicity to humans but is highly toxic for aquatic life. The chemicals in yard control methods with the most toxicity to humans are gamma-cyhalothrin and lambda-cyhalothrin. Other chemicals include imidacloprid, deltamethrin, carbaryl and cyfluthrin.
Hazards of Blown-in Cellulose Insulation
Blown-in cellulose insulation refers to shredded and pulverized paper boxes and newsprint that are installed in walls and attics with the help of pneumatic blowing machines for the purpose of heat and sound insulation. The substance is treated with fire-retardant borates and is labeled as being effective against insects, including earwigs, cockroaches and termites, by the Environmental Protection Agency. Cellulose insulation contains no harmful products such as those found in other types of insulation, including asbestos, fiberglass, ammonium sulfate and formaldehyde. However, blown-in cellulose insulation is associated with a few serious hazards that must be appropriately assessed before it is used as an insulating material.
Cellulose insulation became popular in the 1920s, when marketers touted its numerous sound and heat insulating properties. However, its use led to numerous attic fires. Electrical short circuits and heat producing devices were almost always the cause, igniting the cellulose material and causing home fires. The potential burning hazards of cellulose insulation soon caught on and government agencies passed stringent regulations on their safety in the 1970s. Cellulose, being the base form of paper, is an organic material and, as with other organic materials, it is liable to burn. Buildings whose walls are insulated with older blown-in cellulose insulation pose serious fire hazards since the material was prepared before cellulose fire-safety standards became the norm.
Blown-in cellulose insulation is expected to be treated with appropriate fire-retardant chemicals. These fire retardants tend to deteriorate and lose their effectiveness over time. Research conducted by the California Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation reported that most cellulose insulation samples failed the fire safety test within six months of installation.
According to Carson Dunlop in the book “Principles of Home Inspection,” cellulose insulation readily absorbs water. This further affects and compromises its insulating properties. Moreover, there is evidence that water in blown-in cellulose insulation affects its fire-retardant properties and makes it susceptible to burning. According to Carson Dunlop, water oftentimes entirely eliminates fire retardants.
According to Top-Quality Insulation, certain chemicals applied to blown-in cellulose insulation tend to corrode wires and pipes, leading to their deteriorating and posing additional safety hazards.
Blown-in cellulose insulation poses a unique hazard to individuals who are allergic to newspaper ink and chemical fire retardants. Boron chemicals, such as borax and boric acid, further aggravate matters and cause a host of respiratory problems in the elderly and infants. According to Fred A. Stitt in the “Ecological Design Handbook,” homeowners allergic to ink fumes and newsprint must avoid cellulose insulation.
Is Carpet Freshener Safe?
Carpet fresheners or deodorizers are designed to remove odors from carpets without actually cleaning the carpet. While they offer a simple way to quickly make a room smell fresh, they are not without some risks. These risks are higher for children and pets that spend time playing on the carpet and could come in direct contact with the freshener.
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If carpet freshener comes into contact with the nose or face, it can cause irritation. This includes stinging or burning eyes and a runny or burning nose. While most adults will not allow their face to come into direct contact with carpet deodorizer, children and pets playing on the carpet could experience irritation. The irritation is not usually serious but can cause discomfort.
Like contact with the face, carpet freshener also can cause skin irritation in certain individuals. Children and pets are most susceptible, but adults sitting or laying on the carpet also could experience irritation. The individual using the carpet freshener also could come into contact with the powder as it floats through the air while being applied. This irritation is usually temporary and not serious.
The chemicals used in carpet freshener or deodorizer can have long-term health effects. Many of these fresheners contain phthalates, which have been linked to cancer, birth defects, infertility and disrupting the body’s endocrine system. They also can set off dangerous reactions in individuals with asthma and other breathing disorders. Other chemicals commonly used in fresheners are linked to pulmonary and lung problems.
The scents used in carpet fresheners can trigger allergies. Once the scent is in the carpet, it is difficult to remove quickly or easily, meaning the individual with the allergies will need to leave the area. In most people an allergic reaction results in a runny nose and itchy eyes, but in a few rare cases it can result in difficulty breathing.
Homemade carpet fresheners are usually touted as safe alternatives to commercial products. While they may not contain the same chemicals or strong scents, homemade freshener can still cause irritation. Baking soda can cause irritation in the respiratory tract if the fine powder is breathed in through the nose or mouth. It also can cause eye irritation. These reactions are typically not serious but can be uncomfortable.
Why Can’t Boric Acid Be Used on Carpet?
During a major insect infestation of your home, clearing bugs from your carpet is an important part of controlling the problem. You can use boric acid on carpet if you take care to limit your family’s exposure to it.
A naturally occurring compound, boric acid kills insects such as fleas and ants that are found in carpets. It irritates the exoskeletons of insects that come in contact with it. Boric acid works as a stomach poison, destroying the digestive system of insects that eat it.
To use boric acid on a carpet, sprinkle it over the infested area, and then work the powder deep into the carpet’s fibers using a push broom. Let it sit for several hours, and then vacuum it up. You might need more than one application of boric acid to kill all generations of insects infesting your home.
Boric acid can make pets and children sick if they are exposed to it. You cannot use boric acid on a carpet without blocking the area off to keep people and pets away from it. It is not easy to remove all traces of the powder from the carpet, so there is a risk that your family will be exposed to boric acid once you use it.
Types of Air Fresheners
When the home smells nice and fresh, it makes the entire environment cleaner and more welcomed. Air fresheners are very popular because of this reason. They are also handy for getting rid of odors that are trapped in fabrics and carpet. Many people who smoke or have pets rely on air fresheners to remove left behind odors from the home. There are several types of air fresheners, with manufacturers constantly coming out with new concepts to entice the average consumer.
The most common type of air freshener comes in spray form. These air fresheners are made to cover up odors, neutralize orders or to simply sanitize the room.
Plug-ins were first introduced by Glade and then adopted by many other companies. They plug into an electrical socket and sends out a constant wave of fragrant scents.
Gels are jelly-like substance that contains a certain scent. As the hair hits the gel, a fragrance is released into the environment
Potpourri is still a preferred way to freshen the home from people who are worried about environmental and health concerns made by using sprays and plug-ins. Potpourri is a variety of dried fragrant materials.
The industry of scented candles has come a long way to include hundreds of different fragrances. As the perfumed wax melts, a scent is released into the atmosphere.
Manufacturers are producing new products to freshen the air. Fabreze’s ScentStories is an innovative product that freshen the air by using scent discs that plays in a player.
Dangerous Chemicals in Cleaning Products
Many modern cleaning products are made from different mixtures of chemicals. Not all chemicals are dangerous, but some can be quite harmful to the body. Most household cleaners are safe if used according to the package directions. If common precautions are taken, such as wearing gloves, working in a ventilated area and not ingesting the cleaning products, there is little reason to fear these chemicals. However, it is important to realize the danger of these chemicals if they are misused.
Bleach is a very dangerous chemical if it is swallowed or splashed onto the skin or in the eyes. Bleach will cause skin rashes and broken skin if poured over skin at 100 percent strength. Bleach can cause blindness if it gets into the eyes and remains untreated. Bleach will also release noxious fumes when mixed with base chemicals, such as ammonia.
Ammonia is dangerous to the respiratory system. If used in a non-ventilated area, the fumes from ammonia can cause someone to pass out from lack of clean air. The respiratory problems are intensified if ammonia is mixed with an acidic cleaner, such as bleach. Ammonia is also harmful if swallowed.
Lye is used as an abrasive in many cleaning products such as oven cleaner. Lye is very harmful to the skin and can cause rashes and even remove skin completely. Lye can also cause respiratory problems and should only be used in well-ventilated areas.
Diethanolamine and Triethanolamine
Diethanolamine and triethanolamine are sudsing agents in many all-purpose cleaners that foam or have suds. These agents can bond with nitrites present on the cleaning surface or in the cleaning agent itself. When this occurs they can form nitrosamines, which are possible carcinogens, according to the Organic Consumers Association. This carcinogen can be absorbed into the skin.
Butyl cellosolve is a chemical found in some cleaners. This chemical is believed to be a neurotoxin, according to the Organic Consumers Association. A neurotoxin is damaging to the brain and nervous system, and too much exposure can severely damage these parts of the body.
Alkylphenol ethoxylates are used in some detergents and cleaners to help the cleaners work more effectively. Alkylphenol ethoxylates may be hormone disruptors, which can disrupt the normal chemical signals that the brain sends to the body. This can cause a hormone imbalance, such as the production of too much estrogen in the body.
Sulfuric acid is an abrasive chemical found in many cleaning products, such as rust remover. Sulfuric acid is a corrosive agent, and is used to remove unwanted materials from surfaces. Sulfuric acid can damage the skin and is especially dangerous to sensitive skin.
Sodium hydroxide is a corrosive acid that is used in products such as rust remover and drain cleaner. The same properties of the acid that eat away unwanted materials can also damage the skin.
How to Make Carpet Cleaner With Natural Ingredients
Harsh chemicals in carpet cleansers can cause skin irritation. Natural cleaners are much kinder to the skin and the carpet, as well as much less expensive than commercial counterparts. You can make your own carpet cleaner with natural ingredients that you already have in your pantry. It can be used with or without a carpet cleaning machine for spot cleaning or to clean the entire carpet.
Things You’ll Need
Mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part distilled water in a spray bottle. Add 1/2 cup baking soda. Mix thoroughly.
Spray the solution directly onto the stain or use it in your carpet cleaner machine. Allow it to sit on the stain for 5 to 10 minutes.
Blot the excess vinegar solution up with clean towels until the carpet is nearly dry. Alternately, suck up the moisture with the carpet machine.
Mix equal parts vinegar and baking soda to form a paste and rub it into any stubborn stains. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then wipe it up with a clean towel.
Sprinkle baking soda over the carpet liberally once it has dried from cleaning. Allow to sit for several hours or overnight, then vacuum. This will deodorize the carpet.
Keep the vinegar solution mixed in a spray bottle for quick clean-ups of small spills.
Club soda can be used to remove wine or grape juice. Blot up as much of the stain as possible, then add club soda. Blot up the soda and most, if not all, of the stain will disappear too.
Always test in a hidden area to make sure the vinegar does not damage the carpet.
Why Does One Upstairs Room Smell Like Skunk?
The smell of a skunk is pungent and unforgettable. It is unpleasant to encounter outdoors, but it is even worse to experience the noxious odor inside your home. When the smell is confined to an upstairs room, it is easier to pinpoint the source. You can be assured that the animal has not wandered into your home and is not nesting under the house. Investigate the room in question and consider some alternative possibilities. Other sources can cause smells that might be compared to a skunk.
If it smells like a skunk, consider the possibility that the odor may have originated from a skunk. If clothing has come into contact with a surface or an animal that has been sprayed by a skunk, the odor will not simply disappear over time. Check clothing hanging in the closet or laying out in the room. Remove any offensive clothing and wash it with a strong detergent. Use a household cleaner on any surface that came into contact with the clothing. Open the windows, spray the room with a deodorizer and run fans for ventilation.
If you heat with propane gas, make certain there is not a gas leak present. The gas has no odor itself, but chemicals are added to alert people to the presence of gas. The odor can be compared to that of a skunk. If this is a possibility, put out any open flame and vacate the house immediately. Turn the main gas line off. Call your fuel company or fire department and have your system checked.
Dogs emit a strong foul smelling substance from their anal glands that is similar to the musky scent of a skunk. This essence allows dogs to communicate with and identify each other. Occasionally the glands become impacted and cause the animal discomfort. You will see your dog scoot its bottom across the floor for relief. This can leave a pungent odor on your carpet. A visit to the groomer or a vet can solve your dog’s problem. Clean your carpet with a commercial cleaner to remove the odor.
If you discover the odor is emanating from inside the wall or ceiling of the room, the likely cause is a dead rodent. The odor is nauseating and will permeate the entire room. It will continue until the animal is removed or has decomposed. Keep windows open as much as possible and use a room deodorizer. Set traps and check them often to prevent a recurrence.
How to Tighten Carpet
Most carpet installed in homes use tack strips or carpet grippers to secure the carpet to subfloors. Over time, carpet can become loose or bubble up around a room. Fortunately, correcting this problem is not too difficult with the right tools. Many homeowners can rent carpet stretching tools from a local supply store and tighten carpet in a weekend project, depending on the size of the room. Carpet types will generally not affect the carpet stretching process.
Things You’ll Need
Remove all furniture from the room. Place it outside of the area where you will be stretching the carpet.
Detach two sides of the carpet on opposite ends of the room. For example, start with the north and south ends of the room.
Use a knee kicker to reattach one side of the carpet. Move down the entire wall to stretch and reattach the carpet.
Cut excess carpet with a utility knife. Press the carpet edge beneath the baseboard using a carpet tool.
Place a power stretcher onto the floor. Attach one end to the newly stretched carpet edge. Stretch the carpet across the room toward the opposite wall.
Stretch the carpet across the room in a fan pattern, working your way toward the outside walls. Attach the carpet using the knee kicker after you stretch it across the room.
Cut excess carpet with a utility knife. Press the carpet edge beneath the baseboard using a carpet tool.
Repeat Steps 1 through 7 for the east and west walls in the room to stretch and tighten the carpet.
Replace the furniture.
Ask a friend to help you with stretching the carpet. The process will probably go smoother and faster than doing it yourself.
Be careful to not overstretch the carpet as you can ruin it.
How to Get Rid of a Ripple in the Carpet
Carpets are stretched at the time of installation and attached to a tack strip to hold the stretched carpet in place. Carpets will usually stay stretched for several years. Over time, however, the carpet may come loose from the tack strip, causing lumps or ripples to appear in the carpet. To repair the carpet, you need to restretch the carpet using a knee kicker and then trim the excess carpeting from the room to keep the carpet looking pristine.
Things You’ll Need
Grip the edge of the carpet with a pair of pliers, and pull the carpet up from the tack strip.
Place the knee kicker teeth into the carpet near the stretch.
Hit the knee kicker with your knee to stretch the carpet toward the wall. Continue kicking until the carpet is stretched to the wall, and then stick the carpet back down on the tack strip.
Move back to the rippled area, and start a second stretching pass. Fan out to the left and right on subsequent passes to stretch the carpet.
Cut the carpet to the wall using a carpet cutter.
Gently hit the carpet with a rubber mallet to attach it to the tack strips.
How to Take Carpet Out of a Mobile Home
Carpet installation positions tack strips, which are long wood boards nailed into the subfloor with vertical nails to hold the carpet, near the walls and seams. Mobile homes often have the carpet terminated in a hallway or junction between rooms with staples holding down the carpet. Removing carpet from a mobile home requires using a utility knife to cut up the carpet and a pry bar to lift out the staples and tack strips. Always cut the carpet into manageable pieces unless you intend on reusing the carpet later.
Things You’ll Need
Cut the carpet into strips approximately 3 to 4 feet wide. Cut from wall to wall, moving in the same direction each time.
Grab the cut edges of the carpet near a wall and lift straight up. The carpet will disengage from the tack strip easily. Roll the carpet up to the opposite wall. Lift the roll straight up to disengage it from the tack strip near the second wall.
Press a pry bar under the carpet near any seam between rooms, such as between a living room and kitchen. Pry up the carpet to disengage the staples. Roll the carpet up and remove it.
Pry up the tack strips with the pry bar starting on one end and working toward the opposite end of the tack strip. Remove any remaining pieces of staples or nails with pliers.
Carpet removal is relatively easy as long as you cut the pieces into manageable sections. Cutting the carpet into grids further simplifies the removal. If you want to save the whole carpet, use a pry bar inserted between the wall and the carpet to lift the edges off of the tack strip first, and roll the carpet up as one piece. The carpet will be very heavy, so use team lifting to remove the carpet from the room.
How to Clean Area Rugs on Wood Floors
Area rugs are used in homes all over the world to add color and personality to a room, especially those with hardwood floors. Rugs can be very expensive depending on the size, pattern and material used, and because they are on the floor, rugs can also become very dirty. It is important to keep area rugs clean to reduce dust and allergens that can build up, and to ensure they will last for many years to come.
Remove any furniture from the rug and set aside.
Vacuum the rug thoroughly.
Flip the rug over completely and vacuum the underside of the rug thoroughly to help loosen remaining debris.
Flip the rug right-side up and vacuum again.
Use your vacuum’s long hose cleaning tool to vacuum any fringe.
Lift up the rug and place a cloth towel underneath the stain. Replace the rug.
From the top of the rug, use paper towels to blot up as much of the stain as possible.
Lift up the rug and replace the soiled cloth towel with a clean one. Replace the rug.
Dampen a clean cloth towel with club soda and blot the remaining stain until it is removed.
If the stain persists, mix 1 tsp. of dish soap with 1 cup of water.
Apply soap and water mixture to the stain using a clean towel.
Blot the stain to remove.
Vacuum weekly for best results.
Vacuuming fringe can cause damage to the rug and the vacuum.
Do not beat rugs to remove dust. Beating rugs causes damage to the rug fabric and can cause it to unravel.
Avoid using carpet shampoos on area rugs to remove stains. These solutions can cause damage to rugs and the wood floor underneath.
How to Cover Electrical Cords on the Floor
In an ideal room configuration, electrical cords will run in a short line from the appliance to the wall outlet. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and electrical cords are left draped stretched across the floor. Electrical cords on the floor are not only unsightly and annoying, but they can be a safety hazard. Pets may chew on them if they are left out in the open, and they can also pose a tripping hazard, especially for young children or the elderly. Cover your electrical cords on the floor to prevent injuries and to make your room more attractive.
Things You’ll Need
Arrange the cords so that they are up against the wall. While it may be tempting to run it diagonally under a rug, this is not safe. Instead, invest in an extension cord that is long enough to allow you to press the electrical cord between the floor and the baseboard.
Remove the baseboard from the wall. To remove the baseboard, insert a prying tool along the top until it is loose, then carefully pull it off in one piece. Note that in some cases, if your baseboard or molding is loose enough, you can use a flat head screwdriver to press the cord into the space under the baseboard instead of having to remove it entirely. If you don’t have a baseboard, you can either purchase one or pull up the carpet along the wall and tuck the cord under the carpet.
Staple, clip or tape the cord to the floor where it meets the wall. You can use a staple gun to do this, but make sure that the cord is not plugged in. There are also clips you can buy that are nailed into the floor or wall that are made to hold cords in place. Or, you can just use some electrical or masking tape to tape the cord to the floor.
Replace the baseboard or carpet over the cord. Use a construction adhesive or nails to fasten it in place. To keep the carpet in place over the cord, use carpet nails or carpet glue.
If you can’t do this for some reason (perhaps you don’t have carpeted floors or baseboards, and you don’t want to purchase any) you can buy electrical cord covers to cover your electrical cords on the floor. They are unsightly but much safer than leaving your cords loose on the floor.
Use caution when stapling the cords in place. If the staples cut or pierce the outer cover of the cord, the cord is no longer safe.
How to Install Carpet Over Asbestos Tile
If you have a room with asbestos tile you may be tempted to remove the tile prior to carpeting. All removal of asbestos must be done by a professional. Grinding or sanding of asbestos tile will make it airborne and is hazardous. Once covered with carpet you will no longer risk the tile chipping, coming up, or becoming airborne.
Things You’ll Need
Scrap board for cutting carpet
Install Carpet Over Asbestos Tile
Unroll carpet and allow it to set out overnight to get acclimated to the temperature of your room.
Measure the length of the room based on the direction you will be rolling out your carpet. Add six inches to this measurement.
Pile side facing down measure out the length you will be cutting the carpet. Use your chalk line to mark a cut line.
Carpet on top of your scrap board cut along the chalk line with your utility knife. Use your straight edge to ensure cut is correct.
Turn over carpet and place it in the room where you wish to install it. Make sure the seams of the carpet are flush with the edges of the wall. Use weights to keep the carpet in place.
Roll back half of the carpet and secure the rolled end. Using your trowel spread carpet glue. Roll carpet back onto glue. Smooth carpet out and ensure it is sticking to the glue.
Roll back the second half of the carpet. Spread carpet glue with trowel, and adhere carpet to glue. The carpet will extend beyond the end of the room.
Using a straight edge and utility knife cut the edge of the carpet so it is flush with the edge of the room. Allow carpet to adhere to the glue for at least twenty-four hours before placing furniture in room.
Glued down carpet does not require padding. When gluing carpet temperature of the room should be between 65 and 95 degrees for proper adhesion.
Do not pry up asbestos tiling. Asbestos is a toxic substance. If you must remove tiling hire a professional asbestos remover. Do not sand tile to allow glue to adhere better. This releases asbestos into the air.