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How to Fix Carpet Problems

Tips on how to remove stains, pet odors, and wax from carpet, plus how to repair split seams and tears

The various carpet materials differ in their ability to resist stains and wear. And the higher a carpet’s pile, the more difficult it is to get all the dirt up when vacuuming. Some materials, such as wool and acrylic, also abrade more easily because the yarn does not hold its integrity as well as some other materials. Finally, some carpet materials fade more easily than others when exposed to sunlight.

Depending on stains and wear, carpeting may need to be replaced every five to ten years or so-obviously, carpet in less- traveled or less heavily used rooms will show less wear than carpet that is on a direct path from the living room to the kitchen, say.

There is little to be done to repair carpet short of replacing it. Patches look tacky. However, if the seams come up because they weren’t glued down properly, or if the tacking strips come loose from the edges, these problems can be easily remedied.

A bit of advice: As a group, carpet installers are more willing than other contractors to take on small jobs and handle minor repairs. They are relatively affordable and are equipped with all the necessary tools and skills, so it usually doesn’t pay to do carpet repair work yourself.

Fixing Carpet Dents & Ripples

Carpet dents and ripples are relatively easy to fix. Here’s how to handle these kinds of problems:

Dented carpeting. Heavy furniture can leave indentations in carpet. To prevent this, put furniture glides or cups under the furniture legs, or occasionally move your furniture a couple of inches to give your carpet a break.

When areas have become crushed, use a coin to work the carpet pile back upright, and then hold a steam iron not more than 4 inches above the spot (but don’t touch the carpet!) until the iron warms the fibers.
Tufts need trimming. If a tuft rises above the rest of the carpet pile, do not pull it out. Using a pair of scissors, just snip it flush with the surface. Pulling a tuft can cause a larger area to unravel.
Rippled carpet. If your wall-to-wall carpet suddenly appears to be rippled, it’s probably because of high humidity in your home. Normally, this problem disappears on its own when the climate becomes drier. If it doesn’t, have a carpet installer re-stretch your carpet. You might also want to investigate buying a dehumidifier.

Fixing Carpet Seams or Tears

If your wall-to-wall carpeting is not properly installed, you may find that the seams between sections of carpet will start coming apart (a problem that occurs when the seams are not glued down properly or the seam is located in a high-traffic area). It’s a good idea to glue seams down again as quickly as possible so that they do not fray.

Carpet suppliers and some hardware stores sell seam adhesive. Gently pull away as much loose seam as possible. Apply seam adhesive to the backing of one edge of the carpet, between the pile and the pad. Do not get the fluid on the pile as it can damage or stain it. Tug gently on the carpet and pull it as far toward the other edge as possible. Repeat for the other side. Smooth out bubbles and bulges by pressing outward from the seam with your hands.

For tears in wall-to-wall carpeting or if the split seam is extreme, contact a professional carpet installer because the tension of the carpet must be released, a job that requires a few special carpet installation tools plus experience in working with carpeting.

Repairing Carpet Snags

Fixing snags in looped carpets is a relatively easy job with the help of a nailset or small screwdriver and carpet seam sealer, available from home centers.

Count the number of curls along the pulled-out strand and make a single cut to allow the right number of loops for each side of the run. Outline the run with masking tape.

Apply the sealer/adhesive inside the run, and then, with the nailset or small screwdriver, press the portions of yarn that have old adhesive stuck to them back down into the backing, creating properly sized loops.

More About Repairs & Cleaning

For more about handling specific carpet issues, please see:

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Carpet Cleaning Pro

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