This installment of “You Make the Call” begins as they all do, with a flooring installation gone wrong. The difference this time is that the installation technician, a CFI-certified master installer, is someone I know quite well. He takes a good deal of pride in his work, which every professional installer knows makes any problems that develop all the more frustrating.

The carpet was manufactured outside of the United States. As he was unfamiliar with the product, the installer requested the mill’s recommended installation instructions prior to beginning the job. The mill recommended a premium-grade, multi-purpose adhesive for adhering the carpet to the pad.

The project was a residential double-glue in an exclusive neighborhood. The flooring was but one part of a multi-stage renovation, and within 12 hours of the installation being completed, other trades were covering the carpet with plastic sheeting in order to walk across it without damaging it (this particular carpet is in the range of $50 to $80 per square yard; you better only walk on it with socks, and clean ones at that).

One month after the installation, some bubbles appeared in the traffic lanes. They were steamed and rolled down, and they have yet to reappear. One year later, however, the problem has popped up elsewhere.

Now, no mill representative could be found, and the installer was unable to find anyone short of the carpet importer to come out and examine the problem (it turned out the importer was unable to make the trip). I was able to make it, however, and on first glance, I observed that the bubbles are primarily located in the high-traffic and pivot areas.

The pad is thoroughly secured to the subfloor. The bubbles appear to reside solely in the carpet itself. What could cause this to happen?

You Make the Call!

When a bubble in the carpet is opened up, there is very little, if any, glue on the pad. Using the ultraviolet illumination of a blacklight, it is discovered that there is evidence of adhesive transfer to the back of the carpet, and of adhesive residue on the pad.

A pH test performed on the adhesive residue came back with a result of pH 5-6. A portion of the carpet in a closet is pulled back. What do you see? I see a double-stick trowel (1/8x1/8x?). The flats of the trowel appear to be as large as the notch. There is some transfer of adhesive, enough to separate (delaminate) the pad from itself in some places.

What the photo doesn't show is the investment of the installer: the hours spent preparing for the job, laying everything out on paper before the first step is made, the time spent cutting and seaming this very expensive, 100-percent nylon carpet and, finally, the frustration of trying to discover just what went wrong.

Who is responsible? It has been more than a year since the installation was performed, so should the installer still be held accountable? And what about the non-existent factory representative, who could have really helped with the on-site problem solving?

Should the manufacturer pay to replace it? Should the installer be paid to replace it?

You Make the Call!