In the aftermath of a house fire that hasn’t made your home unlivable, one of the first things you are going to need to do is clean the carpets.
However, the carpet cleaning industry is one of the few industries that is not regulated, and also has a very low barrier to entry in that anyone can call themselves a “professional” without any basis for that claim.
Yet these are people who come into your home and use cleaning chemicals which can be dangerous if you do not have the knowledge of how to use them properly, and more importantly do not have the right equipment (not a rented shampooer) to remove them properly.
Everyone has heard nightmare stories …
Stories about crimes committed, about overuse or improper use of chemicals, and exposès on bait-and-switch companies who use a low coupon offers to get their foot in the door and hard sell unsuspecting consumers into a bill they are compelled to pay.
When you open the phone book you really can’t tell who the great cleaners are, or the ones you would never EVER want to use. The “great” cleaners work hard to distinguish themselves apart from the fly-by-night companies who use unsafe cleaning practices, hard-sell tactics, and sometimes have very unsavory employees.
But your carpet and rugs act as a “filter” in your home for your indoor air
Their fibers “grab” particulates and contaminants and hold them. But like any filter, it needs to be cleaned because when it gets full it cannot grab anything else … and every time you step on a “full” filter you release contaminants back into the air.
That’s why cleaning your carpet is key to a healthy indoor environment, and the EPA’s guidelines for cleaning vary from every four months to every eighteen depending on the number of people and pets in the home, as well as other concerns from allergic sensitivities to how dusty the air is in your neighborhood to whether anyone in the home smokes.
Obviously, cleaning rugs and carpets becomes an immediate necessity following a house fire where smoke containing toxins can be absorbed by them.
A true carpet cleaning professional can evaluate your particular needs, and with the right equipment and cleaning solutions, can fulfill those needs for you and your family.
The question now is how to find that “right” professional …
The following is a summary on how to choose the right professional carpet cleaner. It covers some of the common mistakes made by consumers in choosing a carpet cleaner.
8 mistakes to avoid when choosing a carpet cleaner
MISTAKE #1: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on equipment alone.
No question, your carpet cleaner needs first-rate equipment. But he also needs something else. He needs employees who are skilled at operating that equipment. Many companies own hot-water extractors, but very few companies teach their employees how to use them properly. The best way to know that the carpet cleaner’s employees have been properly trained is to make sure the cleaner has been certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC). Before you choose a carpet cleaner, ask to see written proof of the company’s and the technician’s IICRC certification.
MISTAKE #2: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on low price.
Low price could be a problem in three ways: (1) low price can be the bait that attracts your phone call. But once the cleaner gets into your home, he pressures you into a much more expensive job. (2) Low price can be for single-process cleaning. Rarely does the consumer know what this means and, when told, asks for dual-process cleaning instead, which costs much more. (3) Low price means the carpet cleaner has cheap equipment, which will not effectively clean your carpet.
MISTAKE #3: Choosing a carpet cleaner based on a single telephone call.
Instead, invite the person to your home and ask for a specific written quotation. Then you’ll know exactly what the carpet cleaner recommends—and you won’t be the victim of high-pressure tactics when the technician steps into your living room.
MISTAKE #4: Choosing a carpet cleaner who doesn’t offer a money-back guarantee.
In our view, every carpet cleaning company should be fully accountable for its work. And if you aren’t pleased with the job in every way, you shouldn’t have to pay for it. Period. Not all carpet cleaners offer a guarantee. Or, if they do, the guarantee may be “limited.” Ask the carpet cleaner if he offers a money-back guarantee and then make sure the carpet cleaner includes his guarantee on his written quotation.
MISTAKE #5: Choosing a carpet cleaner without getting comments from their other clients.
Any carpet cleaner can say anything about his past jobs. And, sadly, some of what he says may not be true. Make sure you ask for references or read comments from current customers so you can depend on the carpet cleaner and their work.
MISTAKE #6: Choosing a carpet cleaner who isn’t certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC).
If your carpet cleaner isn’t a close friend, you may not know whether they have the knowledge or experience to clean your carpet well. If you want to be sure you’re hiring a competent professional, make sure they are IICRC certified. The carpet cleaner must earn that certification through study, experience and successful completion of formal, written examinations. In effect, cleaners who are certified by the IICRC have earned a college degree in carpet cleaning.
MISTAKE #7: Choosing a carpet cleaner who isn’t a member of the Carpet and Fabricare Institute (CFI).
CFI is a trade association of carpet cleaners who are dedicated to:
(1) Honest, ethical business practices,
(2) Staying current on the latest methods for carpet and upholstery care, cleaning and restoration, and
(3) The highest possible level of customer service. You’re making a wise decision when you have your carpets cleaned by a member of the Carpet and Fabricare Institute.
MISTAKE #8: Choosing a carpet cleaner who doesn’t use a truck-mounted hot water extraction system.
Portable hot water systems are good, but they aren’t as good as truck-mounted systems. Truck-mount systems are the Rolls Royce of carpet cleaners. Compared with portable hot water systems, truck-mount systems use hotter water, higher pressure and stronger suction. So all the way around, you get a much better job. No two ways about it.
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