It came to my attention the other day that most consumers don’t really understand what it means to carpet clean your carpet using the Hot Water Extraction method. Often, in my Las Cruces Carpet Cleaning business, I’m often asked if we use hot water extraction. It is a very good question, but customers don’t realize what’s involved to do it correctly. In fact, most believe a Rug Doctor carpet cleaning machine will yield the same results.
Here’s a brief explanation of this popular carpet cleaning method.
HOT WATER EXTRACTION
This method of carpet cleaning is also referred as Steam Cleaning. The use of the word “steam” was initiated as a marketing approach to selling this particular method. As you probably realize, the use of live steam (375 degrees) is never accomplished. For this reason the description is more accurately, hot water extraction.
Hot water extraction has evolved over the past few years, now using better equipment, techniques, and chemicals than in the early years. While there has been progress, the basic system remains the same.
A hot water solution, usually containing cleaning agent, is injected into the carpet face and then it is followed with a vacuum system that extracts the soil and spent solution. This system uses small portable equipment with a 30 PSI capacity up to large truck mount units with 1000 PSI capacities. It is important to keep in mind that most pumps will overheat if there is insufficient water available to pump. When comparing machines, remember that vacuum efficiency is measured two ways. Inches of lift (water or mercury) and air flow measure in CFM (cubic feet per minute) and are both important. Lift measures how hard the vacuum can pull and air flow measures how much water dirt and air will be removed through the hose to the waste tank.
While the above describes the basic system, no hot water extraction system is complete without a preconditioning step. The preconditioning involves a chemical designed to emulsify, soaponify, and suspend the oxidized oils and soils until they can be extracted with the equipment. Operator expertise and training cannot be over emphasized. Even more important than quality equipment is a quality technician.
ADVANTAGES: Hot water extraction cleaning is perhaps the most used carpet cleaning method today. If used properly, utilizing all the fundamentals of cleaning, it is the finding of many independent experts and laboratories that it removes the greatest amounts of soil as compared to the other methods.).
DISADVANTAGES: Extended drying time – This is not always the case, but as compared to the other methods, extraction cleaning will average a low of 2 hours for drying, up to 24 hours in extreme cases. The more powerful the vacuum, and the more skilled the technician, the quicker the drying process. Vacuum systems will vary from machine to machine. Both centrifugal and positive displacement systems are used. The most important consideration for obtaining good vacuum efficiency is to have both good water lift (also measured in inches of murcury) and good air flow (measured in cfm, of ‘cubic feet per minute’).
Extraction can employ high temperature, good chemical concentration, and if used with the proper pre-spray, offer time). for the chemicals to work. Mechanical action or agitation needs to be added to the system whether it be a grooming rake to work in the pre-spray or the extra agitation offered by rotary jet extraction.
The cost of this method can be looked at as both a plus and a negative. The cost of the chemical is very inexpensive in use. The cost of the equipment and labor put the overall expense as one of the highest among the carpet cleaning methods.
As mentioned above, depending on the extent of equipment purchased, and the need for trained personnel, this method has a higher cost factor.
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