Consumer Alert: What You Need To Know about Your Carpet Warranty
A percentage of what you paid for your carpet went to cover the anticipated costs to the manufacturer for warranty claims. Warranty claims cost carpet manufacturers millions of dollars every year. And their research shows that claims are more often than not the result of poor, or improper maintenance.
So over the last few years carpet manufacturers have begun to tie warranties to required maintenance by the carpet purchaser. Now, just like when you buy a new car, carpet warranties require you to maintain your carpet within certain parameters. Twenty years ago, carpet mills never talked about required maintenance, or any maintenance at all. It’s a different story now. And this year the requirements are stricter than ever…
But before we get into the new requirements you may be wondering “why is this important to me, I’m not buying new carpet?” Well, its only important if you want to keep your carpet looking as good as possible for as long as possible. Just because something wasn’t required by the manufacturer when you bought your carpet, it was probably recommended by the manufacturer. And if the new maintenance requirements are good for carpet purchased after January 2007, they’re probably good for carpet purchased before January 2007. The bottom line is that proper maintenance will help you get a greater return your carpet investment, no matter when it was purchased. And making use of the research that carpet mills have recently put into making carpet last longer, just makes sense. So with that in mind let’s look at changes in warranty requirements over the last few years and at what is coming “down the road”.
The issues that manufacturers are addressing fall into 4 categories:
1. The proper cleaning method.
Virtually all major carpet mills require Hot-Water Extraction (Steam) Cleaning to prevent voiding carpet warranties.(this has been true for several years now)
2. The proper cleaning schedule.
It varies, but as a general rule, all major manufacturers have a minimum requirement that your carpet be professionally cleaned every 12 to 24 months. (keep your receipts as proof)
3. The proper cleaning system.
The latest requirement is that you must have your carpets professionally cleaned with equipment tested by the Carpet and Rug Institute. This is new, and all manufacturers will eventually have to be tested. But from the limited results so far, the truck mounted systems that have been tested have all been rated GOLD. The portable units have generally been rated BRONZE or SILVER(lower). Since not all manufacturers have had a chance to be tested, its hard to determine an advantage between truck mount manufacturers. The only pattern that seems to be appearing is that truck mounted units do a better job than portable units (not exactly a surprise) since all the truck mounted units have been rated GOLD.
4. The proper cleaning technician.
This is “the final frontier”. And I feel it is the single most important factor in proper carpet care. Only one manufacturer, so far, has announced any requirements as to the qualifications of the person doing the job. But that one company is Shaw Industries, the world’s largest carpet manufacturer. Shaw has recently announced that by January 2008, only technicians trained and certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) will be allowed to work on warranted goods. This move has been applauded by the World Floor Covering Association (the world’s largest trade association, representing virtually all manufacturers of flooring), as well as other industry organizations. And it is only a matter of time before the other, smaller carpet mills follow Shaw’s example.
I agree. The single most important factor in whether or not your carpet is being cleaned and repaired properly is the training and skill level of the person doing the work! (like Tom Martino says, “It’s the singer, not the song…”)
So, the question becomes, how does one know that the person cleaning their carpet is qualified? Its easy. The IICRC is owned jointly by the regional trade associations representing carpet cleaners and restorers. The trade associations “police” the industry through membership. For a company to be a member of their trade association they must, among other requirements, have liability insurance and worker’s compensation coverages to protect the homeowner. And they may only hire technicians trained and certified by the IICRC. In Colorado, the trade association is called the Professional Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners Association or PCUCA. The bottom line is, look for companies that are members of the PCUCA. The PCUCA also has stain charts and a “How to Care for your Carpet” booklet, available for homeowners free of charge. They maintain a local office in Denver and can be reached at 303-232-2641, or on-line at www.pcuca.org . Look for the PCUCA logo when looking for professional, certified carpet repair or cleaning.
Tom Wolfe owns a Carpet Cleaning and Repair company, Impressions Carpet And Hardwood. He may be reached at 303-274-5100 or on-line at www.chooseimpressions.com