Carpet Holes Sprouting and Yarn Pulling Out
My carpet is going to go bare! A complaint so often heard from consumers when they see loose tufts, snags and carpet sprouting on their wall to wall carpet. Seeing the yarn coming out of their carpet says to them that the carpet is failing and there must be a manufacturing problem. Most carpet sprouting issues, high tufts or even holes in carpet are not manufacturing problems even though they are a carpet issue that needs to be addressed. At the same time, some tuft loss on a cut pile carpet is considered normal and is not a reason for alarm. When in question, expert certified carpet inspectors like Terry and Kevin Weinheimer of the Weinheimer Group can determine cause and if a simple correction is called for or a carpet needs to be replaced.
In the days following a wall to wall carpet installation loose tufts are often seen on the field of the carpet and around the perimeter of the installation. Usually these loose pieces of yarn are no more than trim drifting from the edge of the room. When new carpet is installed tufts will come off the raw edge during trimming and tucking into the gully between the tack strip and the wall. A vacuum cleaner does not get close enough to the wall to pick up this trim and unless a crevice tool is attached to the vacuum and ran around the perimeter of the room these loose tufts will travel to other parts of the carpet. These tuft should be expected and there is nothing to be alarmed about.
Sometimes these loose tufts are more than trim and they indicate a problem that needs to be addressed. With some installations especially where the carpet is starting to lift from the tack strip, it is an indication that their may be an installation problem.
When a wall to wall carpet is installed it is stretched onto tack strip. If the carpet was not properly stretched and tucked into the gully between the tack strip and the wall the edge of the carpet will fray and tuft will release. To prevent this an installer needs to use the correct tack strip, place it the proper distance from the wall and properly stretch and tuck the carpet. CRI Carpet Installation Standard 2011 states,
Section 16.2, “It is required that tack strip be a minimum of one inch (25 mm) wide and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Architectural strip two inches in width (50mm) with three rows of pins, or two conventional strips with two rows of pins each are required for stretching areas exceeding thirty feet to provide secure attachment of the carpet and additional shear strength. To prevent possible injury to building occupants, it is required that the pins on tack strip not protrude through the carpet being installed.” Securely fasten tack strip to maintain the tension _ provided by power stretching. Nailed or stapled tack strip is required to have a minimum of two fasteners per piece. Place tack strip with the pins angled toward the vertical abutment. The gully, or distance between the tack strip and vertical abutments, is required to be slightly less than the thickness of the carpet but not exceed ⅜ inch (9 mm).”
Section 16.6, “Finishing at Wall– Finish the installation along the wall, leaving a smooth, neat and secure transition. Trim carpet without damaging baseboards or moldings, leaving sufficient material for backing to be securely tucked into the gully without protruding face or backing yarns.”
Loss of tufts can be seen next to the transitions. It may just be a few loose tufts that were caught in the transition and not trimmed off or it may be the carpet pulling away from the transition leaving a badly frayed edge.
When wall to wall carpet is installed it is important that the correct transition be used and the carpet properly attached to the transition. In some situations the raw edge of the carpet needs to be sealed prior to attaching and tucking to prevent edge ravel. CRI Carpet Installation Standard 2011 states,
Section 6.3 “Transitions to Other Surfaces – Where carpet transitions to other floor coverings, the carpet edges are required to be protected or covered with appropriate transition moldings. The edge of the hard surface flooring should not exceed a maximum of 1/16” higher than the total carpet thickness where no transition molding exists. Where no transition molding is used, apply a minimum of 1/8” bead of seam sealer to the edge of the carpet along the entire transition.”
Section 16.7 “Transition Molding – Where carpet meets other floor coverings create a smooth transition and adequately protect edges with a transition molding that meets all carpet manufacturer and ADA requirements. CAUTION: Failure to mechanically stretch a carpet may result in: wrinkling and buckling over time, localized damage to the carpet, delamination, Wrinkles and buckles most often are caused by: failure to adequately stretch carpet using a mechanical stretching device, using inappropriate or improperly installed cushion, adverse temperature and humidity conditions, or inadequate conditioning time. Note: Carpet placed into transition moldings requires edge sealing to prevent raveling.”
Spike holes will normally be located from 2 to 4 feet from the wall and 18 inches to three feet apart. You may find spike holes within a few inches of a wall or even in the field of a room where the installer used the spike to either make an angled stretch or did not have a wall to place the foot of the stretcher on. While an installer may not have a wall to stretch off of there are non-damaging methods that could be used. Spike holes will be about 1/8 to1/2 inch in diameter. There can be single holes or double holes depending upon the style of stinger that was used. On occasion these holes will we larger where the backing has been torn. The hole will usually puncture the carpet pad and a chip or indentation may be in the floor below the cushion. A considerable number of tufts may have been lost in this area as they are easily pulled from the raw edge during vacuuming. CRI Carpet Installation Standard 2011 states,
Section 16.5.1 “Using a Mechanical Stretching Device (i.e. Power Stretcher) is Mandatory. Devices used as a substitute for, or an attachment to such devices that penetrate through the carpet backing may cause injury, damage carpet or substrates, or result in inadequate stretch. Such devices are not acceptable.”
Tuft will usually be coming out within several inches of the wall or near transition areas. Spreading the yarn small rips can be found in the primary back. These rips usually occur when an installer is kicking in a room instead of using a power stretcher. This damage can also be caused by improperly set pins on the stretching device, or an improperly used knee kicker or power stretcher. CRI Carpet Installation Standard 2011 states,
– An installation tool designed to position carpet and move it onto the tack strip. [NOTE: With the exception of stair installation, knee-kickers should only be used for positioning and hooking the carpet onto the tack strip and not for stretching carpet. A power stretcher, i.e. mechanical stretching device, should always be used for stretching carpet during installation.
(i.e. mechanical stretching device) – A carpet installation tool used to stretch carpet for installation on the tack strip. Consists of a pinned plate that grips the carpet, tubular extensions, a padded end used to brace against an opposing wall or other structure, and a lever system that multiplies the installer’s applied stretching force.
Squeaky Floor Repairs
Sometimes a person will find a squeak in the floor after the carpet is installed and they will short cut the repair by nailing through the carpet. These holes can be confused with a spike hole for like a spike hole the nail goes through the cushion. Where spike holes are primarily around walls and will be at least a quarter-inch in size, a nail hole will be smaller and primarily in the field of the carpet but may be everywhere. If you cannot see a nail it can still be found by tapping, checking with a stud finder or strong magnet.
Holes from Nailing Runners
Occasionally in a new home, particularly one that is for sale or used as a home show model, a non-adhesive plastic runner is used to protect the carpet. Sometimes they will nail the runner in place to keep it from slipping. This type of hole will generally be no more than a nail head in size. Nail holes such as these will rarely pose a real problem but a few tufts may be lost.
Stay Tacking During Installation
Another cause of nail holes is stay tacking of the carpet during installation. This type of hole will generally be found near door openings and seams, particularly with patterned carpet. The holes are small and a few inches apart. Stay tacking is an often necessary practice that takes place when an installer needs to hold the carpet temporally in place with nails while seaming or aligning a pattern. It is rare that stay tack holes will contribute to loss of more than a single tuft and not a problem unless a loop has been pulled and not corrected. Carpet Installation Standard 2011 states, “For patterned carpet, exercise care to ensure pattern alignment along walls. The use of a mechanical stretching device, stay-nails and a “dead man” may be necessary to achieve pattern match at seams and alignment along walls.”
At seams it is not unusual to see tufts coming out or a row of loops pulled out. The most common cause of this is the failure of the installers to properly seal the edges of the carpet prior to seaming. Carpet edges are raw edges and especially with looped carpet the yarn will often pull and a long run referred to as zippering will occur. To prevent zippering proper edge sealing is mandatory unless otherwise stated by the carpet manufacturer. Carpet and Rug Institute – CRI Carpet Installation Standard 2011 states, (Note: CRI 104 and 105 for carpets installed prior to 2011 have similar standards.)
Section 12.2 Sealing Edges “Regardless of installation method, most carpet requires an edge protective material be introduced between the edges to be joined. This material can be a liquid or thermoplastic and can be applied using various procedures and techniques. Consult the manufacturer of the products for specific sealing procedures.” ‘CAUTION: Failure to properly prepare seam edges often results in: edge ravel, edge delamination, tuft loss, seam separation, safety concerns.
Tuft loss at seams can also occur due to pet or maintenance issues. See consumer related tuft loss.
Manufacturer Related Tuft Loss
Manufacturing related tuft loss may indicate a concern, defect or a normal condition.
Tufts will actually rise above the pile of the carpet as if the yarn is starting to sprout like a new planted seed. Sprouting is a condition that occurs with cup pile, loop pile or cut and loop pile carpets. This condition, which results in the protrusion of individual tufts above the carpet’s specified pile height, is not considered to be a manufacturing defect. The physical cause of sprouting is due to an over-extension of the pick rate (stitch rate) of the primary backing, or when slack yarn gathers during tufting. Sprouting can also occur as a result of variations in yarn tack during the air entangling process. With cut and loop style carpet these sprouts commonly develop at the point where the carpet changes from cut to loop. At this point, the yarn is pulled closer to the back due to a change in tension, and the latex is starved. Although sprouting loops are usually detected and removed during manufacturing they can also be removed by clipping after installation. Clipping of high tufts is considered part of the carpets normal maintenance program. Clipping will not alter the performance or the warranty of a carpet.
Sprouts are sometimes seen as a series of loops being pulled out. In this situation it may be but is not necessarily a manufacturing defect. Often a single sprout that was not clipped may have been pulled by the vacuum or even from normal traffic conditions.
When carpet sprouting is a manufacturing problem you will usually find a low tuft bind or poor encapsulation and brittle latex around the tuft bundle. When the tuft bind and latex are good it is likely a normal sprout that has not been clipped or a site related conditions such as pets, improperly adjusted or damaged vacuum or snags. Damage resulting from pulled loops from improper use of knee kickers during installation can resemble sprouting, however; this condition is generally isolated along the walls of a carpet installation. The CRI Claims Manual states, “Claims for missing tufts will not be considered except on a basis of repair.” When there are manufacturing problems such as delamination or coating problems that are causing the loss of tufts this is a defect and if the carpet is not repairable replacement may be the only option.
A high row of tufts or loops is not actually tuft loss though it is a manufacturer related concern. A high row are loops that were tufted too high as a result of a tension adjustment or a row of cut pile that was not sheared. This yarn is firmly secured and often correctable on site by a qualified inspector/corrector such as Kevin or Terry Weinheimer of the Weinheimer Group.
If the latex that secures the yarn bundles and bonds the primary and secondary backing together is not properly formulated it may fail. The failure may show itself as chalky, powdery latex, a low carpet tuft bind or backing delamination. Many of these conditions can also occur do to a site related condition such as water damage, improper cleaning and urine saturation. To determine the cause it may be necessary to have the carpet inspected and/or tested.
HUD/FHA Requirements and ASTM Standards
Requirements and test methods for carpets list the minimum carpet performance criteria used for quality control practices by carpet manufacturers. Carpets that meet these minimum standards are considered to meet industry standards for ordinary use as well as being in compliance with HUD/FHA requirements. The test methods and criteria listed below are examples of the minimum requirements for carpet. Delamination Strength ASTM D 3936 : Minimum standard 2.5 lb.
Tuft Bind ASTM D 1335: Minimum standard 6.25 lb. loop, 6.25 lb. cut & loop, 3.0 lb. cut pile only. While it is often necessary for a carpet inspector to make tuft bind tests on an installed carpet, the most accurate testing is performed in a lab using left over, uninstalled, unused, properly stored remnants of carpet.
Pulled mends is another manufacturing cause that most often occurs when the tails of yarn are not clipped which then hangs or pulls during other stages in the tufting process. This can occur during the drying of level loop and the rollers the carpet is running on pull the yarn. Tufts of the carpet are pulled out of the primary backing and not clipped off. This manufacturing claim is correctable by reburling if not excessive.
Not only are there manufacturing and installation reasons that a carpet fails. There are also a number of consumer related causes. A few of these are snags, pet damage, water damage, improper cleaning or a vacuum cleaner that are too aggressive or has rough or chipped edges.
Urine will damage the latex in a carpet and this may result in fiber loss and delamination of the carpets backing. Urine damage will often leave an oily residue on the primary and secondary back. The urine salts will also register as high moisture when the carpet is checked with a moisture meter. Additionally they can be seen under black light. Cleaning of the urine may remove the odor but it will not restore the latex. Even if the carpet is almost brand new this is a consumer related claim and not a manufacturer related claim.
Water damage may occur from a carpet staying wet too long after cleaning while traffic continues over it. While hot water extraction cleaning is recommended by most carpet manufacturers, it is important to use a qualified expert when having the carpet cleaned. A technician that does not take the time to properly extract the carpet or an untrained person cleaning their own carpet can leave a carpet too wet. Once the carpet dries the carpet may measure dry when a moisture test is conducted but the damage has already been done. This is a consumer or maintenance related claim and not a manufacturer related claim.