Winter snow, sleet and ice equal dirty, salty, muddy shoes and boots.
And with the holidays approaching, homeowners are trying to keep their homes in tip-top shape — especially if they are considering selling anytime soon.
With this in mind, I emailed Jotham Hatch, home safety and allergen expert at Chem-Dry, a carpet and upholstery cleaner, to discuss how real estate agents can help their homesellers care for and select carpet that will stand the test of holiday and open house visitors.
Inman: How do sellers know when it’s time to replace their carpet?
Jotham Hatch: With proper maintenance and care, carpets can easily last upward of 10 years. But at some point, carpet replacement might need to be considered.
One sign to identify a carpet in need of replacement is pile crush.
Pile crush is when the carpet fibers have been matted down and are lying flat. Another sign of wear is when the fiber tips are frayed in areas where there has been too much agitation.
Damaged areas will also indicate when it’s time to replace the carpet. If you can see through to the carpet backing or if there are severe tears or stains that cannot be fixed, the carpet should be replaced.
Before removing carpet, however, a professional cleaning should first be attempted, and it’s worth contacting a carpet repair professional to see if they can offer any suitable repairs.
While professional cleaners can do wonders on even the toughest stains (i.e. mustard, hair dye or Gatorade), the older the stain, the more difficult it is to remove.
How do homesellers choose the best carpet for their homes?
All carpet is not created equal. Despite the many options to choose from, the most recommended is nylon — for a number of reasons, including better color retention, stain resistance and ease of maintenance.
In addition to being the most resilient, nylon carpet can last more than a decade in great condition with proper care.
The least recommended carpet options, on the other hand, are polyester and olefin. Both are poorer performing options that show matting and flattening much faster.
Unlike nylon, these options not only show oily stains but, if not properly cleaned, these oily spills can oxidize and chemically bond with — becoming a part of — the fibers.
What tips can you offer in choosing carpet?
When choosing carpet, pick a good fiber type, and check the pile density, paying attention to how close fibers stand together. The thicker the pile, the better quality the carpet.
In addition, though sometimes overlooked, it is also important to ensure that a pad is installed underneath the carpet for better wear and a more comfortable feel. Best recommended is an 8-pound pad.
What suggestions do you have for homeowners looking to keep their carpet clean?
The most important tip for carpet maintenance is regular vacuuming with a vacuum that has a beater bar, which helps improve its efficiency.
Professional cleanings are suggested by the carpet manufacturer every 12 to 18 months, but an important rule of thumb is to always have the carpets cleaned before they start to look dirty. Once dirt is visible, you have waited too long.
If a home is on the market, there will most likely be increased foot traffic to address as potential homebuyers come in and out and walk around every inch of the space.
Before listing a home for sale, it is important to first get the carpets not only professionally cleaned, but also reprotected with stain resistance and soil inhibitors that help withstand the increase in traffic in between regular cleanings.
Lastly, when choosing a carpet cleaning professional, it is important to pick one that does not leave a soapy residue, which will only attract dirt faster — especially with increased foot traffic.
Traditional steam cleaners often use detergents that can leave behind soapy residue, which can not only be an irritant but attracts dirt and grime to the carpet much faster.
What can homeowners do to avoid weather-related damage?
The two most common forms of weather-related damage are sun exposure and water damage.
To protect against fading from sun exposure, homeowners can either dress up windows with blinds or shades or install UV windows.
To help avoid water damage, especially during winter months or rainy days, doormats should be placed in doorways.
It is important, however, to avoid any plastic mats with a sticky adhesive, as the residue it leaves behind after removal will only attract dust and dirt to the area faster.
Also, asking guests to remove their shoes when they enter the home or offering them booties can help.
If there’s flooding, how should homeowners know when to replace?
When it comes to flooding, there are two types of water to consider: water from a freshwater source (i.e., a sink, furnace, shower, etc.) and flooding from a non-freshwater source, sometimes — but not always — from outside (i.e., a nearby river, toilet bowl, etc.).
If flooding occurs from a fresh source and has not been contaminated, it can be properly cleaned by using a professional.
If the flood source was not fresh, however, contaminants in the water will quickly harbor bacteria, and the carpet will most likely need to be replaced.
A potential homebuyer should always ask these two questions if they are told an area of the home has experienced any flooding: “Where did the water come from?” and “Who took care of the cleanup?”
Jotham Hatch is the National Training Director for Chem-Dry, the world’s leading carpet and upholstery cleaning service.