Monthly Archives: November 2013

IICRC: Why Should A Technician Be Hired For Odor Removal?

“While some forms of odor removal can be done by a homeowner without any technical experience, professionals will be needed for more stubborn, unpleasant smells. The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, or IICRC, is the agency in charge of certifying technicians skilled in this field. Through training supervised by IICRC approved instructors, these technicians possess the best methods and products available for handling this problem. Their advanced skills allow them to eliminate smells caused by fire, smoke, mold, and thorough pet soiling. While homeowners have some tools available to help control these issues, professional help is usually required to eliminate them completely.

According to a survey commissioned by the IICRC, more than 80 percent of homeowners state that how clean their floors are is a major factor in their family’s health. However, only 15 percent of homeowners have their carpets cleaned every year. Odor removal is a major component of preventing airborne contaminants from affecting the family’s health inside the home. Also, a lingering stench almost always comes from a source that is hazardous to people and pets. For these reasons, the problem should be treated as soon as it is noticed.

The best way for a homeowner to perform simple odor removal is with a readily accessible substance. Homeowners have been getting rid of foul smells with home remedies for decades. While these substances are easy to apply to the carpet and are effective for smaller jobs, they aren’t feasible for more extensive problems. Also, they don’t typically eliminate the cause of the scent but cover it up instead. This just masks the health hazard in the room and so it remains a threat.

Technicians trained in odor removal through an IICRC approved instructor are taught the four general principles of eliminating unpleasant smells. They first attempt to locate and destroy the source of the smell. In some cases, like during fire and smoke restoration, this may be too difficult to do before cleaning the area. Once the source is destroyed, the technician will thoroughly clean any surfaces or items that were affected by the source. While carpets are often a primary spot for odors to take root, furniture, clothing, and drywall may also take on the scent if they are exposed long enough. These surfaces must be cleaned to prevent the smell from coming back.

Technicians also have access to several odor removal products capable of penetrating surfaces to neutralize the unpleasant smell thoroughly. Every material has its own physical properties that determine which substances to use for effective odor elimination. Trained professionals can find the best product for each material, from carpet and fabric to wood and ceramic. Once the surface has been treated, trained technicians are able to seal the surface to trap what scent does remain. Foul smells are created by airborne particles that can be sealed away for good.

These professionals can handle odors caused by urine contamination, decomposition, mold, chemicals, and fire and smoke damage, among many other sources. Their expertise means they are prepared for any job, no matter the scope.”

Information Sourced from: http://www.iicrc.org/why-should-technician-hired-for-odor-removal-a-123.html

IICRC: Carpet Odor Removal

“Whether it’s the fault of a new pet who hasn’t been entirely housebroken, an old pet with failing health, or clumsy everyday spills, accidents that result in the need of carpet odor removal happen for a variety of reasons.  One of the rules for carpet odor removal is to act promptly, because once the stain has set in it will be harder to extract the visual and olfactory traces of it. An often overlooked cause of unpleasant odor is mildew that has resulted from the floor covering or the padding beneath it getting overly wet and staying damp. The growth of bacteria is a side effect of allowing a spill or accident to settle into the carpet fibers, but it is also something that can easily be prevented.

Some smells, like cigarette smoke, may not be pinned to a specific location on the floor covering. Sometimes scents linger long after the offending spot has been identified, soaped, blotted, rinsed and deodorized. A strong ammonia scent can overwhelm a room and lead people to search for the best method of carpet odor removal. A steam cleaning is usually the approach taken to combat lingering smells. Steam cleaning can result in a deeper cleansing than regular vacuuming or spot cleaning a spill and can be bought or rented for in home use. A steam cleaner uses water heated to the point of evaporation to penetrate the pile of the floor covering deeply.  The steam dislodges debris and dirt that are trapped in the fibers.  The steam itself is not enough to remove stains or odors though, and usually a cleaning solution is used in conjunction with the machine.

Baking soda and distilled white vinegar have been known to be useful additions to the stock of cleaning supplies used to tend to smells in the home. Allowing baking soda to sit prior to vacuuming can have a deodorizing effect.  When it comes to carpet odor removal, the do-it-yourself cleaning solutions pale in comparison to the work that can be done by a qualified professional service.  The most effective method of carpet odor removal is consulting a professional.  They have worked with all sorts of stains, textile materials, brands, and carpet constructions, and can put that knowledge to good use when determining the best method of treatment. Experts have the machines and experience to handle floor coverings that have been roughly and routinely used. Usually, their cleaning solutions are stronger than those that can be bought over the counter.  A spot that has been soiled repeatedly may have more than just dirty surface fibers, as the backing and the floor underneath may be contaminated too. A qualified professional knows how to take care of the entire problem.

Even floor coverings that are not marred by stains or emanating smells require some routine maintenance to keep them at their best for longer. Regular care and upkeep results in a longer life expectancy of the floor covering, and provides an overall cleaner indoor environment. Although a professional may employ the same method of treatment for removing scents, the steam cleaner, their training and previous hands-on involvement usually yields a more satisfactory and thorough job than a DIY approach.”

Information Sourced from: http://www.iicrc.org/carpet-odor-removal-t-4_11.html

Rug Cleaning Tips from the IICRC

“Sixty-four percent of U.S. homeowners have rugs in their homes; found a survey by the IICRC, but only 40 percent clean them on a regular basis. Like carpets, rugs require proper maintenance to retain their appearance and durability.

Area rugs tend to be made of more delicate fibers, questionable dyes and woven constructions that can easily be damaged by do-it-yourself procedures or even professionals without adequate training and experience.

Certified technicians are trained to recognize different fibers, constructions and types of carpet and rugs, along with their potential problems. They have the equipment, training and experience to restore the beauty of carpet and rugs — improving the look of your home or business and protecting the indoor environment, as well as your investment.

Area rugs are more popular than ever with consumers today, thanks to the increase in hard surface flooring.  If you’ve purchased a high-quality area rug for your home, you may wonder how to protect your investment and maintain its beauty.

Fiber content and construction are the major factors that determine the appropriate rug cleaning method. The IICRC offers several tips for keeping your rugs looking like new:

  • Vacuum rugs on a regular basis. Fringe should be hand-vacuumed only.
  • When spills occur, scoop or blot-up the excess. Then dilute the area with water and blot – don’t rub – until no more color is visible on your clean, white towel.
  • Ideally, rugs should be removed from the home or office to be professionally      cleaned.
  • Rotate your rugs once a year to ensure even wear.

How often should your rug be professionally cleaned? The answer depends on its location in your home. Does it get heavy foot traffic? Are there any pets? Often, animals are drawn to rugs and can leave behind unpleasant surprises that require specialized treatment.”

Information Sourced from: http://www.iicrc.org/consumers/care/rug-cleaning/

Pet, Carpet, Home Odor Control

“Odor in homes and buildings arises from many sources that may include pet urine, disaster contaminates, moisture problems or just plain soil. Routine cleaning automatically removes the sources of general soiling odors.

Pet urine decontamination normally requires more specialized deodorizing techniques. To remove musty odor associated with moisture, ultimately it’s important to identify and correct the moisture (high humidity) intrusion problem. Odor associated with disaster contaminates (smoke, trauma events) requires highly specialized procedures and techniques.

Odor removal involves four general principles:

  1. Removing the source as possible
  2. Cleaning affected surfaces and materials
  3. Recreating the conditions of penetration with appropriate counteractants
  4. Sealing restorable surfaces as necessary

Certified professionals are trained and experienced in dealing with carpet-related odor. They have the detection tools, the specialized agents, the equipment and the experience necessary to deal with odors of all types and kinds.

Tips for a Fresh Home

 

A survey commissioned by the IICRC indicates that 81 percent of U.S. homeowners agree that the health of their family is directly related to the cleanliness of floors in the home. While a key component to improving air quality is eliminating carpet and rug odors, which in many cases requires regularly cleaning these surfaces, only 15 percent clean their carpet at least once a year.

According to the IICRC, the following four-step process is the best way to successfully remove odor from your carpet:

  1. Remove the source of the odor, as practical (absorb liquids, scoop solids)
  2. Thoroughly clean odor-affected surfaces and materials. Cleaning is basic to deodorizing
  3. Treat the odor source with an appropriate odor counteractant (sanitizer, disinfectant, enzyme)
  4. Seal restorable surfaces, such as subflooring, if practical

Many sources of odor, including pet urine and tobacco smoke, require specialized procedures and techniques and are best addressed by a certified professional.”

Information Sourced from: http://www.iicrc.org/consumers/care/odor-control/

IICRC Carpet Cleaning / Care Tips

New carpet can improve the appearance of any room, but how can carpet that is walked on every day continue looking new? To keep your carpet clean, it’s necessary to vacuum regularly with a strong, well-functioning and properly-filtered vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, due to traffic, children, pets and normal wear, carpet fibers inevitably become soiled, and a dull appearance results. And no matter how much you vacuum, eventually you will need to call a professional carpet cleaner.

Regular professional cleaning using a cleantrust technician is as important to your carpet as having a trained mechanic perform routine tune-ups on your car. While your carpet may appear clean on the surface, periodic cleaning by a certified technician can remove what you can’t see and help your carpet retain its fresh, beautiful appearance.

“Cleaning Carpet Can Be a Dirty Business” “Not All Scum Is In the Carpet” “Don’t Let them Pull The Rug Out From Under You” “Clean Your Carpets Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet” “Don’t Get Taken To The Cleaners.”  These clever phrases have appeared recently in newspaper articles and televised news programs across the nation warning consumers about carpet cleaning scam operations. The media has related horror stories of trusting consumers who have responded to low-price carpet cleaning specials only to become victims of unethical cleaners who refuse to honor the advertised price, intimidate the consumers and do poor quality work.

Bait-and-switch operators are prevalent in many industries, and the carpet cleaning industry is no exception. This does not mean that all carpet cleaners are rip-off artists. How do you know who is and who is not? The professional carpet cleaning industry has cited these scam activities as a major industry concern and is taking action to help eliminate unprofessional workmanship and unethical tactics. One of the leaders in this campaign is the IICRC, an international, non-profit organization that certifies cleaners who meet prescribed levels of technical proficiency and pledge to operate by a Code of Ethics.

To help educate consumers so they will not become victims of fraudulent practices within the cleaning industry, the IICRC has released a list of guidelines to consider when selecting a carpet cleaner.

  • Price – If an advertised price sounds too good to be true – it is! Often carpet cleaners advertise a low price just to get their foot in the door. Use common sense; a low price usually equates to low quality for any product or service. Legitimate business people have expenses they must cover, including license, taxes, insurance, employee wages, and benefits, and quality tools of the trade. A professional carpet cleaner who must cover all of these business expenses and make a profit to stay in the business cannot afford to drive to your house for $5.95, much less clean a room of carpet when there.
  • Quality – Never should the price of cleaning services be the sole criterion for selecting a carpet cleaner. A price that sounds high may not be a signal of a rip-off. In all professions, quality work deserves a quality price.
  • Truth in Advertising – Read the fine print in advertised specials to find out exactly what the price includes, and request a firm price in writing before the work begins.
  • Training – Professional cleaning firms require management and employees to engage in formal training in a variety of cleaning disciplines, and these educational efforts will be ongoing.  Consumers should ask about the formal training background of technicians who will be cleaning their carpet.
  • Certification – Professional firms require technicians who have certification from organizations like the cleantrust or through comparable franchise or independent training and testing organizations.
  • Experience – The years of experience a firm has, combined with formal training programs, contribute significantly to the experience and proficiency of its employees.
  • Knowledgeable – Professional firms employ and train technicians who have the ability to answer basic questions regarding carpet performance and maintenance, as well as spotting and cleaning.
  • References – Consumers should ask for references from previous customers, and they should consult friends and business acquaintances about the reputation of the cleaning firm they are considering. Do not hesitate to call the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau.
  • Trade Associations – Professional cleaning firms are members of regional or national trade associations or other organizations that promote high ethical standards and continuing education. Look for trade association logos in advertising.
  • Credibility – Community involvement through the Chamber of Commerce and/or professional business, charitable or similar organizations will be undertaken by concerned, caring professionals. Look for logos indicating involvement in these organizations.
  • Method – Ask the cleaner which method of cleaning will be used and the advantages and disadvantages of this method compared to other methods.
  • Proof – Never hesitate to ask for proof. Ask to see the cleaner’s certification card, business license and insurance certificate.
  • No Pressure – Technicians must be courteous and willing to take the time to thoroughly explain the cleaning and to answer all questions. The consumer should never feel pressured.

There is no single criterion for selecting a carpet cleaning service. Several combined factors must be considered in the selection decision.

For many, spring is a rebirth of life and time to rejuvenate the home with a thorough cleaning. The IICRC reminds consumers that a quality cleaning regimen can be good for their health by enhancing the indoor air quality of the home.

A survey conducted by the IICRC found that more than eight out of 10 U.S. homeowners feel their family’s health is directly related to the cleanliness of floors in the home. The survey results, in conjunction with other similar findings, also discuss a long-standing misperception that carpet is the least effective type of flooring when it comes to minimizing conditions that aggravate allergies. In reality, the opposite is true. Scientific studies have shown carpet to be more effective in trapping allergens keeping them from becoming airborne inside the home. The key is proper cleaning.

The IICRC offers 10 tips for simple clean-up to improve indoor air quality:

  • Keep Walkway and Entries Clean – Start by keeping outside sidewalks, entry areas, porches and steps clean. Sweep, dust, vacuum or use a leaf blower to remove soil and debris from entries to eliminate tracking into the facility.
  • Use Mats to Trap Soil at Entries – Outside and interior mats to trap and contain particles and moisture should be placed at each entry. This not only extends the life of carpet, it greatly reduces the quantity of particles that enter and build up within traffic areas, eventually becoming airborne.
  • Clean Shoes at Entries – Studies conducted by professional engineers on carpet dust samples indicate that fine particles containing lead are reduced by cleaning or removing and leaving shoes at the entry.
  • Purchase and Use High Quality Vacuum Equipment – A quality, durable upright vacuum with brush agitation is a must. Price is not as important as quality. Check trade or consumer magazines and expect sales persons to provide technically accurate information. Also, check the Carpet and Rug Institute’s list of vacuums that qualify for the Green Label Program at www.carpet-rug.org.
  • Use High Efficiency Vacuum Filter Bag – Using high-efficiency double-lined vacuum filter bags can filter out 99 percent of particles down to one micron or less in size. Avoid cheap paper filter bags that remove particles down to seven microns only. Small particles that pass easily through paper filter bags are a major source of respiratory irritation, as well as household dust.
  • Vacuum Frequency – Consumers should increase the frequency of vacuuming to stop soil from sifting downward and becoming embedded in the carpet pile. Vacuuming should be done more slowly in entry areas where most particle soils accumulate. Vacuum slowly over traffic areas two or three times.
  • Heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) Filters – Use quality pleated or reusable electrostatic filters for HVAC systems.  Reusable filters have acrylic rods that vibrate and create a static electricity that charges soil particles, thereby attracting them to the filter. Anticipate a cost of between $50 and $100 for quality filters. Reusable filters should be removed and flushed free of collected soils on a monthly basis.
  • Clean the Carpet – Professional hot water extraction cleaning lifts and suspends fine particles of soil. Then careful extraction flushes them from carpet fibers.
  • Clean Other Soft Surfaces – Clean upholstery, drapery, bedding and other fabric surfaces regularly; wash linens weekly to remove allergens.
  • Control Moisture and Humidity – Dust mites and mold are the two most common allergens present in higher humidity climates. Dust mite infestation can be eliminated if the relative humidity of a home/building, not just a particular area, is consistently maintained below 50 percent.