There’s a fire breathing dragon that lives in a cave below your house, and his breath may cause a problem.
Okay, “fire breathing dragon” is a fun exaggeration, but the furnace in your basement does blow hot air, and what’s circulating with that air is potentially troublesome. When you get around to changing the furnace filter, you’ll find it to be pretty gunked up and gross, covered in a mass accumulation of gray matter which may consist of everything from dust mites to cooking oil and perfume particles. This stuff (and more) is flowing with the air of every home, and if it’s not getting caught by your furnace filter, it will end up somewhere else.
It doesn’t happen in every home, but sometimes these particles get concentrated in specific areas of the carpet, particularly homes in cold climates like we have in West Michigan. In these instances, you’ll find dark gray lines in the carpet under the doors and/or along the baseboards and edges of steps. These are what we call “Filtration Lines,” and they’re a direct result of the way air is flowing through the house. Air is being forced through the carpet at these spots, and the carpet is filtering that air just like the filter in your furnace would. Over time, particles build up, sometimes even bonding with the carpet fibers. It doesn’t matter what kind of carpet you have; quality carpets are just as susceptible to this phenomenon as inexpensive carpets, but lighter colored carpets may develop more pronounced Filtration Lines.
Filtration Lines are notoriously difficult to battle, but there are a few things you can do to help prevent them.
- Change your furnace filter. Different filters have different average lifespans, so consult the packaging or website of your preferred type or brand. If you’re not familiar with these options, here is a good resource.
- Open the inside doors. For some people, this is counter-intuitive and against a lifetime of conditioning, however, if the doors are open, air is not being forced under them, and Filtration Lines can’t occur.
- Close the outside doors and windows. You want to keep the inside air in, and the outside air out (this is primarily a winter time problem, this doesn’t necessarily apply to the warmer months), so be mindful of what you’re putting into that air – it could be making filtration lines. So, smoke outside, and reduce the use of cleaning chemicals inside (many daily cleaning tasks can be accomplished with a simple vinegar and water solution or hydrogen peroxide).
- Locate and seal the cracks. Grab your lance, and look for them in the subfloor, along the baseboards, and along the edges of stairs. Happy hunting.
- Vacuum. Man, I can’t stress the importance of regular vacuuming enough. Vacuum at least twice weekly or every day if possible (be sure to dump the receptacle when you’re done). Your diligence is crucial to preventing filtration lines as well as visible traffic paths and you will also be freeing the carpet of up to 80% of nastiness like dead skin cells, germs, and allergens.
As always, when in doubt, consult a professional. With 36 years of experience, Randy’s Carpet Care has battled greater dragons than these and walked away victorious. Filtration Lines may not always be killable, but they can usually be wounded. In other words, depending on the severity of the problem, we may not be able to completely remove filtration lines from your carpet, but we can certainly improve the appearance.
Estimates are always free, so if you live in West Michigan, give us a call today at (616) 392-1400.