What is a carpet system?

The parts that make up a carpet system are the carpet, adhesive, and cushion. New carpet that is installed will usually be laid in two ways. either glued to the flooring and padding,or laid and stretched into place and secured with tac strips. When the components of the carpet system are made the manufactures use many chemicals to improve certain characteristics such as stain resistance.

What are the problems With Carpet?

When the carpet is installed, vapors from the carpet also know as voc’s (Voatile Organic Compounds) are released into the  air. Called off-gassing, these chemicals leach into the surrounding indoor air.

The carpet and backing are not the only sources of the VOCs, and VOC’s are not the only pollutants that come with the carpet. A few of the other known contaminants are adhesives used to secure the carpet,dyes in the carpet fibers, fire resistant treatments, and fungicides and pesticides, and stain resistant treatments.

New installations of carpet are usually the main concern when thinking about VOC problems. There are also concerns with carpet that is older and already installed. Carpet can act as a filter and trap indoor air pollutants  and particles. It can also collect substances that are tracked in by shoes or pets or even spilled. Because carpet can remain wet for extended periods of time if not dried, these substances can encourage microbial growth of mold and bacteria. Carpeting installed on concrete floors are more likely  to develop moisture  problems that encourage the microbial growth. To maintain a healthy indoor environment home owners should have their carpets cleaned by a professional and make sure the carpet is dried as quickly as possible.

Health Effects Of Carpet:

There are many unpleasant symptoms that can be caused from the emissions from new carpet. These include fatigue,eye, nose and throat irritation,headaches, and skin irritation. A few people have experienced a cough and shortness of breath. The likelihood of serious or permanent health effects from exposure to new carpet is very small. The effects would be limited to people with heightened pollutant sensitivities.

Another source of health problems associated with existing carpet is the presence mold and mildew and of dust. Small particles of dust can be stirred up causing respiratory distress in allergy and asthma sufferers. Dust can also be a source of exposure to pesticides and lead in kids. Mold and mildew can also trigger respiratory diseases and allergies in both children and adults.

Solutions to problems associated with Carpet:

New Carpets

When replacing carpet you should vacuum your old carpet before it is removed to minimize the dust from releasing into the air. For older carpet that is extremely dirty consider having it cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner and removing it while it is still damp. Ask your carpet provider if it is possible to have the new carpet  sit unrolled and allowed to ventilate for at least a day. When purchasing  ask for low-emitting pad, carpet, and adhesives or Green products. Make sure the installers follow the CRI(Carpet and Rug Institute) guidelines for installation. During and after the  install make sure you open windows and run exhaust fans if available. It is advised that you leave the building during and remain away afterwards to allows the carpet to off breath and VOC’s and let the ventilation to occur.If objectionable odors persist contact your carpet provider.

Existing Carpet

The main thing that you can do is to vacuum your carpets on a regular basis with a good strong vacuum. Make sure the vacuum is is good working order. Check for clogs and hair around the brushes. Empty or change the bag regularly to improve suction performance. Powered nozzle vacuums can pick up 2 – 6 times as much dust then those without. Many models offer high efficiency bags and micro filtration. These features assist in trapping the dust particles inside the vacuum instead of releasing them back into the air. People with asthma or allergy sensitivities should remain out of the area during the vacuuming to avoid breathing and remaining particles or dust that is kicked up. It is recommended to vacuum at least once a week especially in high traffic areas. Dust and dirt can be removed for more than 5 minutes from the same patch of carpeting. Do not underestimate the power of the mighty doormat. Doormats trap dirt and soil before it can make its way into your home or business.  Consider having 2 mats at each entry way. Keep one outside and one just inside the door. Vacuum them regulatory so they may trap their maximum amount of dirt.

Have your Carpets cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner using the hot water extraction method also known as steam cleaning. Make sure the carpet cleaner uses a truck mounted unit and not a portable. The portable units have a lower pressure and the vacuum blowers can not extract as much water as the truck mounted units. Additionally truck mounted carpet cleaning produces higher temperatures  which allows for greater sanitizing and  stain removal power.


When cleaning spills use non toxic green cleaners and follow directions carefully. Most stains only require a mild detergent mixed with water. Make sure you use a non bleach cleaning agent. Mix 1 cup water with 1/4 teaspoon mild liquid detergent. Rinse with lukewarm tap water to remove any soapy residue. To minimize odors use a solution of 2 cups water with one cup white vinegar. A solution of 1 cup water and and 2 tablespoons household ammonia may also be used. Follow up with a good vacuuming when the area is dry.  Some stains like red dye or juice will require a professional trained in stain removal.