In recent years there has been a profusion of lesser quality, odorous area rugs that have appeared in the consumer marketplace. Most of these are hand-tufted rugs from the Asian subcontinent, particularly imported from India, Pakistan or China. One of… Read More →
The use of candles dates back to prehistoric times. They’ve been used for lighting, heating, and decoration. Recently, aromatherapy candles have touted relaxation benefits and mind/body healing. But however soothing candles may be to your mental state, however appealing their… Read More →
In recent years there has been a profusion of lesser quality, odorous area rugs that have appeared in the consumer marketplace. Most of these are hand-tufted rugs from the Asian subcontinent, particularly imported from India, Pakistan or China. One of the common problems with these rugs is a tenacious unpleasant odor that emanates from the latex back coating or adhesive, which is part of the carpet construction. Unfortunately, this foul odor is “built in” and no amount of professional cleaning or deodorization will permanently remove it. New rugs should never smell this way and good, old rugs seldom do either.
The odor can vary from mild to strong and oppressive. One characteristic smell typical of these rugs is of “ diesel fuel” or “burnt” oily type residues coming out of the latex. These rugs may even smell bad right in the store, but the odor appears more concentrated and noticeable in the smaller rooms and spaces of your home. The mass market importers often sell these shoddy rugs and this foul condition is a defect in the rug from manufacture and distribution.
Area rugs with this foul odor problem usually have wool pile fiber but could also be acrylic, cotton, olefin or others. The construction has the pile inserted through a primary backing and latex “glue” or adhesive applied to the underside of the backing fabric to help secure the pile yarns in place. Also, this same latex adhesive is used to glue or adhere the secondary backing to the rest of the rug. The secondary backing fabric, usually a course cotton duck fabric and often dyed green, blue or other colors, is what you would often see when looking at the back or underside of the rug.
The odor may be caused by defective, low quality latex adhesive used at the time of rug manufacture or not enough time allowed to “cure” the latex before the rug is shipped to overseas markets. There may be diesel oil odors absorbed into the latex during shipboard transport from India or the odors used to cover up other problems. The cleaning industry’s best experience is that this offensive odor cannot be permanently removed and may or may not be temporarily alleviated.
In addition, there are discolorations and dye transfer problems associated with Indian or lesser quality Asian area rugs that further compound their defective nature. When these area rugs with dyed backings are placed on top of light color carpet, the poorly dyed cotton scrim or canvas backing fabric may “crock” or transfer its green, blue or other offensive color onto the carpet or rug underneath. In addition, during wet cleaning, fugitive dye marks used to stencil the pattern for hand-tufting can bleed up to the surface of the rug pile.
With cotton hooked rugs, discoloration from cellulosic browning can occur during cleaning and drying. Some of the darker colors can bleed during cleaning. None of these offensive conditions should ever occur with a well-made oriental or area rug. As noted above, it is our professional opinion that such rugs are fundamentally defective, either due to the persistent foul odor and/or the dye transfer, discoloration or color bleeding, and should be returned to the retailer.
My carpets are flooded! What do I do?
Call us at our office (770) 929-8439 to schedule an inspection or to begin emergency drying procedures.
Do not. . .
With fast action, our certified water damage technicians prevent permanent damage. We have the equipment and training to restore most wet materials, including carpets, pad, flooring and walls, to their original condition. In some cases they actually look better than before because we remove odors and clean the materials during the restoration process. For most situations we arrive within the hour to reduce the damage, expense and the inconvenience. How can I restore water damaged carpet? There is no single procedure for dealing with all flood damage situations. Each situation is different and must be evaluated individually by an expert.
Determine whether the flood water is sanitary, unsanitary, or black water. Only in sanitary conditions should you attempt to clean and restore the carpet yourself. Cleaning professionals should be called in to handle the adverse affects of disease carrying bacteria contained in unsanitary and black water conditions.
If you cannot reasonably determine the water quality, call Clean & Tidy Carpet Cleaner at (770) 929-TIDY for assistance.
Before restoration can begin, you must identify the source and stop the incoming flow of water from its source. In sanitary water situations, once the water has been stopped, extraction of excess water from the carpet must begin immediately. To reduce the possibility of fungal growth, the carpet cushion should be discarded. In natural flooding or rising water situations, the carpet and carpet cushion should be replaced immediately to minimize possible health concerns.
Information retrieved from the Carpet Rug Institute.
The use of candles dates back to prehistoric times. They’ve been used for lighting, heating, and decoration. Recently, aromatherapy candles have touted relaxation benefits and mind/body healing. But however soothing candles may be to your mental state, however appealing their odors, and however romantic a mood they set, candles may be causing irreparable damage to your home — and your insurance may not pay for it.
The making of candle soot
Many of the popular scented candles today are made by mixing oils into the candle wax. The more oil that’s put into a candle, the stronger the odor will be. However, more oil also means a higher potential for soot that dissipates into the air as your candle burns. And the soot eventually coats your carpets, drapes, and furniture.
You can spot the vestiges of candle soot in the black ring left around the inside of many glass candle holders.
You can spot the vestiges of candle soot in the black ring left around the inside of many glass candleholders.
It works this way: A candle must have the right amount of wax, air, and wick in order to burn cleanly. If any foreign particles are introduced into that formula, the burning mixture is thrown off-kilter, causing the candle to emit more soot. Too much oil in the wax of a candle can cause sooting, but so can too much wick and too much (or too little) air circulation around the candle.
Oftentimes, the soot particles become electrically charged and stick to plastic and metal surfaces. The particles travel through duct work and when they are forced out of the vents. Forced air blows the charged soot throughout the home and the soot eventually settles on other charged surfaces, like your furniture. After the soot settles, cleaning it off your walls, carpet, couch, and appliances becomes impossible. The electrically charged bond is too strong for household cleaners to break. You have little choice but to replace the soiled surfaces or buy new items entirely.
Ron Bailey, engineer and owner of Bailey Engineering Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has tested new and used candles and has found that some will cause major problems for homeowners. One of Bailey’s tests involved using a model home as the proving ground. He burned four candles for 15 hours (or 60 candle-hours) and had to stop the test because significant soot had deposited on the walls, appliances, and drapes.
Bailey has seen actual cases in which tens of thousands of dollars of damage was done to the home.
“It’s eye-opening. They had to replace the carpets and clean up and repaint the walls.”
Chris Cole, an interior restorer based in Macon, Ga., saw one case in which thousands of dollars of damage was done from burning candles.
“One woman burned too many candles in her house and she was also burning potpourri and incense.”
Cole says. “She was just begging for problems.” When all was said and done, the woman had an $8,000 repair bill. She had to have her walls and ceilings repainted and her floors professionally cleaned.
The woman blamed Cole’s company for the damage, claiming it had not installed her heating system properly. Cole’s insurance company paid for the woman’s damage and Cole replaced the heating system and refinished the walls and ceilings. Two weeks after Cole’s company replaced the woman’s heating system, the walls were again covered in soot, and that’s when Cole was able to attribute the damage to candle soot.
Damage in the hundreds of thousands of dollars is possible. One homeowner in Texas suffered nearly $200,000 in damages and replacement costs because of candle soot. The soot particles infested her heating and cooling duct work, which had to be replaced, and much of her furniture was covered by candle soot. Her insurance company, USAA Insurance, originally paid her claim of $28,000 to repair damage to the structure of the house. The homeowner and USAA are still trying to reach an agreement on how to pay for the remaining damages. USAA is “subrogating” that case, meaning it’s seeking compensation now from The Gap’s insurance company because The Gap sold the candles (made by Ceres) that damaged the structure of the home. The homeowner has also filed a lawsuit in Dallas District Court against The Gap.
Buying a less-problematic candle
Candles that are soft to the touch generally have too much oil in them. This will cause the burn mixture to produce soot. Candles that are overly aromatic are often soot culprits since the scents are produced by mixing oil into the wax.
Glass-encased candles can be problematic, too. As the candle burns, the wick descends farther into the container, reducing the air supply needed to ensure a clean-burning flame. Many times, you can see the results of a soot-producing candle on the rim of your glass container in the form of a black ring.
Candles that are produced overseas can contain more oil and a lower grade of wax. Some candles even contain lead, which can lead to air-quality problems. Maryanne McDermott, executive vice president of the National Candle Association, assures insure.com that no reputable candlemaker in the United States uses lead in its candles.
Frank Vigil, a building scientist specialist with the Applied Building Science Team at North Carolina State University, says the problems from candle soot are becoming more and more evident. Vigil has investigated several cases, including one in which he was hired by State Farm Insurance Co. “There was quite substantial property damage [in that case], over $10,000,” he says. State Farm ultimately denied the claim because the damage was not caused by a “named peril.” But Vigil says he knows of many claims made against insurance companies as a result of soot deposition from candles. “This is becoming a big issue, near epidemic in proportions,” he says.
Home insurance may not pay
Insurance companies have not addressed the issue of damage from candle soot specifically in homeowner’s policy language, and the industry’s stance on the issue is ambiguous.
“There’s a potential for coverage, but like every other claim, it will be investigated on its own merits,”
says Phil Supple, spokesperson for State Farm. “We would look particularly closely at the ‘named peril provision’ in the policy.”
That’s the provision that spells out in clear terms what is and what is not covered. In addition, home insurance policies have what’s called a “sudden and accidental occurrence” provision, which separates harmful events that happen overnight from those that develop over time.
“Candle soot deposition is likely to fall under the exclusionary language of slow and repeated occurrences,” says Mike Binns, an underwriting manager at Farmers Insurance Group. “Cases wouldn’t likely fit the ‘sudden and accidental’ definition of the policy.” Binns adds that Farmers judges every claim on its individual merits and if any homeowner were able to prove that a candle soot problem was sudden and accidental, Farmers would cover the damage the candles caused.
“When there’s structural damage caused by the contents of a candle wick, we would pay the claim,” says Hal Schade, a spokesperson for USAA. Schade also says USAA has had a number of candle soot claims come in, but can’t say how many were paid. “It all depends on the specifics of the case,” he says. While USAA may pay for structural damage, payment for damage to your possessions is uncertain.
Can you be in the dark when a candle’s burning?
Aromatic candles pose health hazard
No studies have been done to analyze the toxicity of candle emissions and their potential health effects, but one air-quality manager in Florida, David Krause, has proven the particles that candles throw off while burning are potentially deadly.
Krause says that candle soot particles are the same as particles given off by burning deisel fuel. People exposed to diesel soot over an extended period of time, say for eight hours a day for a year, have been known to develop respiratory problems. The same can be said for candles, Krause asserts. “The materials found in candle soot are the same as those found in diesel soot.
These include 11 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) that have been deemed ‘toxic air contaminants’ by the state of California.”
Some of the air contaminants include toluene, benzene, methyl ethel ketone (MEK), and naphthalene — substances commonly found in paint, lacquer, and varnish removers. The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that two forms of benzene — which is also found in candle soot — are “probable human carcinogens.” Some scented candles also emit lead, which is a widely known health danger.
Krause, who formerly worked for the state of Florida Department of Health, says the air contaminants are carcinogens, or cancer-causing agents, and can affect the human reproductive system. Krause will announce his findings at the Society of Toxicology national conference in New Orleans on March 18. Binns from Farmers says that if a cross section of his company’s policyholders were asked if they realized soot was being deposited by burning candles, the majority would answer “no.” “I wouldn’t have had the slightest inkling that a candle was producing [damaging soot] unless everytime I lit the candle it produced black smoke for 15 minutes,” he says.
Supple of State Farm agrees that few people are aware of the problem. If complaints of soot damage continue to rise, he says the company will produce literature making its policyholders aware of the problem.
The candlemaking industry itself is doing little to announce that its products can be harmful.
Two candles that insure.com purchased had only cursory warning labels. One reads, “Never leave a burning candle unattended. Place candle on a safe surface away from flammable objects. Straighten and trim wick before lighting. Keep out of reach of children.” The other reads much the same, but lacks advice about trimming or straightening the wick.
One candle producer, Candle-Lite Inc., based in Leesburg, Ohio, does provide specific warnings about soot and how to reduce soot deposition. Some of its warning labels read, “For best burning performance and to reduce soot emissions, trim wick to ¼ inch, and do not burn candle near a draft.” Candle-Lite consumer affairs manager Carole Cottrill says her company sees its larger candles as an opportunity to inform consumers why they should trim wicks. Cottrill admits that not all of Candle-Lite’s candles have the specific warning label. “Where there’s room, we put it on,” she says.
Most labels don’t say why consumers should trim the candle’s wick before lighting. “The labels are to ensure the candles burn evenly,” says Maryanne McDermott, executive vice president of the National Candle Association, a group that provides guidelines for the industry. McDermott says that an even-burning candle won’t produce soot.
But uneven burning candles will. “There could be deposits that certainly would be noticeable,” says Jim Becker, an engineer for American Greetings’ candle unit.
“I’ve had experiences in my home in which I’ve burned a candle and there was a lot of smoke that was generated. I’m sure a very bad situation could arise.”
However, the candlemaking industry is reluctant to put warning labels on their products because, according to McDermott, “Candles have been used for hundreds of years without problems.” Of course, the tremendous popularity of aromatherapy and scented candles presents problems that no one has dealt with before.
McDermott also says that burning candles in drafty places — often a cause of sooting — is a “dumb thing to do. You can see [the uneven burning]. I think it’s common sense.”
Article written by Joe Frey on March 3, 1999
Dark grayish lines under doors, around baseboards, and along edges of stairs are symptoms of an aggravating problem — Filtration Soiling.
The cause of the problem is really quite simple: Dust, smog, and other airborne pollutants accumulate where concentrated airflow is directed over or through the carpet’s pile. The carpet ‘filters’ out these pollutants and gradually becomes discolored.
This condition may appear over a period of only weeks, or it may take months or even years to become visible. The severity of the problem will be proportional to the volume of airflow and the relative dirtiness of the air. And of course, it is most visible on lighter colored carpets, particularly off-whites. Defective Carpet? No. Filtration soiling is not an indication of low quality carpet, or of a defect in the carpet or its components. It can appear on any carpet regardless of price, style, quality, construction, or face fiber.
As described above, filtration soiling is caused by environmental pollution. It cannot be caused by anything done at the time the carpet or its fibers are made. And, while fluorochemical soil retardants may make it easier to correct, no fiber modification or topical finish can prevent filtration soiling from appearing.
In most cases, the airflow is created by heating and air conditioning systems, thermal expansion and contraction of the air, or the natural convection currents in the home. It may also be caused by wind blowing through a home via windows which regularly remain open.
Can I correct it?
Filtration soiling is usually at least partially correctable by professional cleaning. However, many of these pollutants are introducted to the fiber on a molecular level, much smaller than soil from other sources. Some of these soils, auto emissions for example, are oily in nature, and are attracted to synthetic carpet fibers. These factors can make complete removal of filtration soiling quite difficult, sometimes impossible.
The professional carpet cleaner should be aware that filtration soiling rarely responds to normal cleaning procedures. Dry solvents, such as l.l.l. tricholoreothane, mineral spirits, or citrus solvents, followed by rinsing with a mildly alkaline detergent solution, are some of the best remedies. We have many other products new on the market that can greatly enhance the problem.
What can be done to prevent it?
Unfortunately, not much. But leaving inside doors open as much as possible will help prevent filtration soil lines from appearing in doorways.
Keeping the air inside the structure as clean as possible by regularly cleaning and replacing heater and air conditioner filters is another good preventative measure.
Information based on materials supplied by Fibercare Services, Chino, California.