Cleaning and maintaining carpets and floors for the most part is not an everyday topic in most quarters of the floor covering industry. In my travels I have learned there is no shortage of strong feelings about carpet maintenance techniques and quite a bit of emotions on the subject to boot.
My sites were focused on the subject of maintenance early this year when the people of Host asked me to accompany them to a Dalton area school, where they were invited to restore some seriously grungy carpet.
The project started last summer when the Host people showed up at the Valley Point Elementary School in Dalton, a unit of the Whitfield County system, with their Liberator Extractor Vac and dry carpet cleaner sponges. They cleaned about a 15-foot square area just outside the cafeteria.
Fast forward to Jan. 2, when the school was still out for the Christmas/New Year’s holiday, and even more Host people appeared on the scene with a maintenance contractor ready to do battle with the dirt and grime that had taken up residence in this 13 year-old carpet. This carpet incidentally had been hot water extracted twice a year up to this point.
We not only had the opportunity to witness some of the cleaning and spot removal, but we also had the opportunity to interview several of the players involved in the process including the vice principal of the school, who was extremely excited with the results.
And, a remarkable transformation it was. The carpet, which ultimately became powder blue, was something closer to charcoal grey when I arrived. From broadloom before the cleaning that appeared to literally draw the light from the school corridors to carpet that remarkably brightened the whole place after.
As I mentioned we had the opportunity to interview three different people involved with the Valley Point project: Fritz Rench, the chairman and CEO at Racine Industries, maker of the Host products; Arthur Dominguez, Racine’s vice president of business development, and Angela Hayes, the assistant principal at Valley Point.
The following are some excerpts from these conversations to give you a little flavor as to how this remarkable transition occurred and most of all get a feel for the reaction of the assistant principal. You can find the complete videos in the archives section on the TalkFloor.com website, which is also accessible via Floor Trends’website, floortrendsmag.com, and you’re invited to watch them at your leisure.
TF: Fritz, fill us in on the Valley Point Elementary School and the situation you found at the school when you arrived.
Rench: The carpet in the school has been down for 13 years. It really began to be uglied out after three to five years. It’s been wet extracted every summer and over the Christmas holiday, according to people at the school.
However, when the kids return in the fall a week or two after it had been cleaned, it looks pretty much like it did before it was cleaned. The buildup in soil is such that it is a mess and they have pretty much given up on it. [The manufacturer] decided it wanted to take another look at dry extraction and many at Valley Point, in the meantime, were anxious to get the carpet cleaned or replaced.
TF: Your people will be restoring the carpet at the school over the next couple of days, what exactly will they be doing?
Rench: First we pile lift and vacuum the carpet extensively with the Liberator Extractor Vac. You would be amazed at the amount of dry soil that is removed during the process of simultaneously lifting the pile and vacuuming. We perform that process extensively.
In a school in Florida, which had been neglected for 25 years, we literally performed this process for a month, because we kept removing soil. Then we applied the Host dry extraction sponges—as we will do in the Valley Point School—restoring it to pristine condition. The carpet in the Florida school has been down for 30 years.
TF: What problems caused the situation we see at the Valley Point School?
Rench: Carpet will hold water-soluble and oil-based soil most often in the upper third of the pile. The dry soil will penetrate deeper. The problem is not loosening the soil. That is basically easy. The problem is wicking. If you loosen that soil too fast, with too much liquid, which is extremely easy to do, the soil disappears, but as the carpet dries, it rises to the surface and the spots reappear. The biggest complaint on the commercial side as well as the residential side is wicking.
TF: Angela, as assistant principal at Valley Point, the facility, including carpet maintenance is your responsibility. Give us a little history of this carpet.
Hayes: The carpet has been down for 13 years. I came to Valley Point last year and when I arrived it was pretty dingy. The carpet had been cleaned over the years and we were really hoping we could get it a little cleaner. So when we were presented with the possibility of getting it cleaner, we jumped at it.
TF: You take the part of your job that deals with this facility extremely seriously don’t you, not only the carpet but the entire school?
Hayes: It goes back to our vision and mission. We feel very strongly about having a safe, healthy and inviting environment for our students, our staff and our parents. Part of our vision is that we will be valued and respected by the community.
TF: The date for the restorative cleaning was set for over the Christmas break, the people from Host and the contractor were on hand. What Happened then?
Angela Hayes: It was amazing. The hallways were brighter and more inviting and on top of that we discovered for the first time the real color of the carpet. It was a great Christmas present.
Editor’s note: There’s a great deal more of this conversation with Hayes, and there also is a very interesting segment with Dominguez, who supervised the whole process and offered a demonstration that we didn’t have the space for here. That’s why we encourage you to see all three interviews in their entirety by visiting the TalkFloor.com site, and click on the TalkFloor TV logo and scroll down to the parts titled, “Angela Hayes, Asst. Principal at Valley Point on the Restoration,” “Host’s Arthur Dominguez – The Carpet Restoration at Valley Point,” and “Host-Racine CEO Fritz Rench – The Carpet Restoration at Valley Point.”
We’d also love to hear your feedback of this and other conversations you’ve watched or listened to on the site, as well as any ideas of people or companies you’d like to see interviewed. You can contact either Dave Foster at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Matthew Spieler at email@example.com.