In the never-ending debate about the pros and cons of hardwood flooring versus carpeting, one of the basic attributes of carpeting that is firmly established is that carpeting acts as a giant filter, trapping and holding dirt, dust, and all sorts of other pollutants that adversely affect the quality of our in-home (or in-business) air. Wall to wall carpeting can legitimately be thought of as your home’s “bigger-better” furnace filter, catching most all the particulate (some microscopic) that your in-line furnace filter does not. When these two systems (furnace and carpet) are working properly and being maintained regularly, your in-home air quality can be very good.
Numerous, reputable studies have proven that carpeting is more effective at reducing the amount of dust-borne allergens in the air than hardwood floors. One such study, conducted by Airmid Health-group Limited, was presented to the annual meetings of the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, and the College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in 2012. They did a series of tests using very sophisticated electronic equipment that has the ability to quantify the amount and size of the particles in the air. They compared chambers with hardwood floors and carpeted floors, and found that even when the carpet was disturbed by walking or other similar activities, the carpeting trapped the allergens to a greater extent than hard surface floors, resulting in fewer particles escaping into the air. (For more information on the study and its findings, visit press.shawinc.com/Airmid/). These same results were found by the Swedish, Australian, and American governments, all whom did studies with the objective of reducing asthma and allergies in their general populations. The American study found that homes with hard surface flooring were 8 to 10 times more polluted than homes with carpeting.
In order to reap the optimum benefits of your furnace and carpet filtration systems, or any filtration system for that matter, you must clean or change your filters on a regular basis. In regards your furnace, most furnace filters are relatively inexpensive, so the dirty filter is simply removed and exchanged for a new one. In regards your carpet, your carpet “filter” only needs to be cleaned on a regular basis by vacuuming with a good quality, hepa-filtered vacuum, and then occasionally professionally cleaned with a hot-water extraction system to remove soils that a normal suction vacuum cannot remove.
Don’t worry that regular vacuuming and cleaning will somehow wear out your carpets- the truth is that proper vacuuming and professional cleaning actually extends the life of your carpets. Carpeting is an amazing product that is designed to be walked on- dirt is its only real enemy. Dirt particles that become trapped in amongst the carpet fibres will grind against the material when it is walked upon, and will slowly wear down the fibres resiliency and cause fraying, color-loss, and matting. Stains and spots due to spills, when not quickly and properly cleaned up, may create odours and damage the carpet fibres or cause the carpet fibres to stick together, reducing the effectiveness of vacuuming and creating a “magnet” for dirt to adhere to. Decent quality carpet that has been regularly maintained has a surprising long life-span, sometimes exceeding two decades, and is often replaced due to interior design changes before it needs replacing due to wear and tear. By L. Bradshaw