How to Fix Carpet Problems

Tips on how to deal with static electricity, carpet dents, snags, tears, fading, and other carpet problems.

The various carpet materials differ in their ability to resist stains and wear. And the higher a carpet’s pile, the more difficult it is to get all the dirt up when vacuuming. Some materials, such as wool and acrylic, also abrade more easily because the yarn does not hold its integrity as well as some other materials. Finally, some carpet materials fade more easily than others when exposed to sunlight.

Depending on stains and wear, carpeting may need to be replaced every five to ten years or so-obviously, carpet in less- traveled or less heavily used rooms will show less wear than carpet that is on a direct path from the living room to the kitchen, say.

There is little to be done to repair carpet short of replacing it. Patches look tacky. However, if the seams come up because they weren’t glued down properly, or if the tacking strips come loose from the edges, these problems can be easily remedied.

A bit of advice: As a group, carpet installers are more willing than other contractors to take on small jobs and handle minor repairs. They are relatively affordable and are equipped with all the necessary tools and skills, so it usually doesn’t pay to do carpet repair work yourself.

Static Electricity in Carpeting

When you walk across your carpet, are finger shocks and other static electricity problems driving you nuts?

Static electricity is affected by several variables, notably the type of carpet fibers and cushion, the type of shoes you’re wearing, how you walk on it, and the amount of moisture in the air.

In general, nylon carpeting will generate significantly more electricity than polyester or wool. Some new carpets have special fiber blends or treatments built into them that are intended to eliminate static electricity.

Humidity is the very significant because moisture in carpet fibers dissipates electrical charge. In other words, carpeting in a room with very dry air will not contain much moisture in its fibers. As a result, it will be more likely to generate static electricity.

Adding moisture to the air with a humidifier (please see Home Humidifiers Buying Guide) can help. If sufficient water is added to the air, it will eliminate the static problem, but too much moisture can produce condensation problems.

Spray-on anti-static agents are available to deal with static. Just be advised that these are not a permanent solution because they eventually wear off the surface (typically in a few months). Additionally, some are a bit sticky and, as a result, can cause dirt build-up on a carpet’s surface. If you choose to use a spray-on anti-static agent, ask your dealer for one that won’t cause dirt build-up.

Fixing Carpet Dents & Ripples

Carpet dents and ripples are relatively easy to fix. Here’s how to handle these kinds of problems:

Dented carpeting. Heavy furniture can leave indentations in carpet. To prevent this, put furniture glides or furniture leg cups under the furniture legs, or occasionally move your furniture a couple of inches to give your carpet a break.

When areas have become crushed, use a coin to work the carpet pile back upright, and then hold a steam iron not more than 4 inches above the spot (but don’t touch the carpet!) until the iron warms the fibers. Another trick that some people use is to put ice cubes along the carpet dents; if you do this route, test it in an inconspicuous place, if possible.

Tufts need trimming. If a tuft rises above the rest of the carpet pile, do not pull it out. Using a pair of scissors, just snip it flush with the surface. Pulling a tuft can cause a larger area to unravel.

Rippled carpet. If your wall-to-wall carpet suddenly appears to be rippled, it’s probably because of high humidity in your home. Normally, this problem disappears on its own when the climate becomes drier. If it doesn’t, have a carpet installer re-stretch your carpet. You might also want to investigate buying a dehumidifier.

Fixing Carpet Seams or Tears

If your wall-to-wall carpeting is not properly installed, you may find that the seams between sections of carpet will start coming apart (a problem that occurs when the seams are not glued down properly or the seam is located in a high-traffic area). It’s a good idea to glue seams down again as quickly as possible so that they do not fray.

Carpet suppliers and some hardware stores sell carpet seam adhesive. Gently pull away as much loose seam as possible. Apply seam adhesive as directed by the label. Here is a typical method: Apply it to the backing of one edge of the carpet, between the pile and the pad. Do not get the fluid on the pile as it can damage or stain it. Tug gently on the carpet and pull it as far toward the other edge as possible. Repeat for the other side. Smooth out bubbles and bulges by pressing outward from the seam with your hands.

For tears in wall-to-wall carpeting or if the split seam is extreme, contact a professional carpet installer because the tension of the carpet must be released, a job that requires a few special carpet installation tools plus experience in working with carpeting.

Repairing Carpet Snags

Fixing snags in looped carpets is a relatively easy job with the help of a nailset or small screwdriver and carpet seam sealer.

Count the number of curls along the pulled-out strand and make a single cut to allow the right number of loops for each side of the run. Outline the run with masking tape.

Apply the carpet seam adhesive inside the run, and then, with the nailset or small screwdriver, press the portions of yarn that have old adhesive stuck to them back down into the backing, creating properly sized loops.

Preventing Faded Carpeting

When floors and furnishings are becoming faded due to sunlight, you can control the fading by blocking the sun with shades or curtains, but then, of course, you’ll lose the natural light.

Fading is caused by ultraviolet light, heat, and visible light from the sun. Overhangs, awnings, and shade trees can help, but the best solution is to apply clear UV-protective window film —it’s designed to block UV rays, reflect heat, and slightly reduce visible light.

Sold in rolls online or at home improvement centers, window film tint is a thin, plastic-like material. It is easy to apply to the inside surfaces of windows, using a soapy solution of water (directions come with the film). See How to Buy & Apply Widow Film for complete information.

Choose reflective low-e films to cut back on UV rays and heat; beware of the darker films—with these, you’ll sacrifice natural light.

Carpet Stains & Cleaning

For more about handling carpet stains and cleaning, please see:

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Carpet Cleaning Pro


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