Summer is here and everyone is looking at his or her family rooms and basement areas (high traffic) wanting to replace or upgrade the carpet. For these types of areas the best fiber selection has been polypropylene (Olefin). We typically refer to them as Berbers, loop pile construction that we give street names like "Pop Corn." Olefins have seen the largest growth in usage over all other yarn systems for almost 20 years running. The reasons for this are many characteristics only found in polypropylene yarn. Moisture absorption is virtually zero (.001%) and therefore cannot be stained or easily dyed and must be solution dyed. Polypropylene comes from a refined chemistry which makes it chemically inert, meaning even strong acids will not dissolve or damage the fibers. With the advent of air entangling equipment, some of the color restrictions have been overcome. Additionally as oil becomes more expensive, all petrochemicals, including carpet fibers, will become more expensive with nylon being more sensitive than polypropylene because nylon competes more directly with gasoline in the refining process.
OK, enough of the vocabulary lesson; let's get to the visual stimulation. The following was a commercial application on the sixth floor of an office building; within weeks of the installation the customer complained of excessive soiling. The carpet is very dirty! Photo 1 is the hallway leading to the offices installed with the carpet in question. The hall way is also a Berber but it is much darker and does not show the dirt as readily. Photo 2 is the transition from the hallway to the problem carpet. Photos 3 and 4 are the offices with the soiling problem.
Now let's play "You Make the Call."Is this an installation problem? Is this a site-related condition due to the lack of proper maintenance? Or could this be a manufacturing defect? Although I've seen installers blamed for a lot of nonsensical reasons, this is not related to installation! If maintenance were an issue then what makes the adjacent carpet any different than the problem one? With six floors, an elevator and lots of carpet between the parking lot and soiled carpet, where did the dirt come from?
Photos 5 and 6 should shed some light on this quandary. Using only water and agitating the carpet fibers, a foam/froth was formed. So what does this mean? Now can "You Make the Call"?
Surfactants (soapy oils) used in the yarn making process of Olefin fibers are usually washed out of the yarn prior to tufting. This particular yarn slipped through the cleaning stage (or was not thorough enough) and was tufted into a finished product before Q.C. personnel could detect a problem. If you have ever visited a carpet mill you know how fast the carpet runs. If you have not gone through a mill tour I highly recommend it! It will open your eyes to the many steps need to make a quality finished product. So what was the resolution to this problem? Replace the carpet? Believe it or not, a plain hot water extraction (without cleaning chemicals) was all that was needed to cure this problem. But who should pay for that? Quite simple: the answer is the carpet manufacture should!!! This was a manufacturing-related condition. Just for the fun of it, next time you install a Berber that has an unusually high oily or greasy feel to it, take a scrap piece and put a little water on it. Agitate it with a screwdriver and see if you can make your own shaving cream. If so, you might want to let the retailer know this, for a possible problem could be just around the corner! Thanks again for reading "You Make the Call." Have a great day!