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Soot from forced hot air heating

I did a job today, that I thought would take under three hours. It was three bedrooms plus a hall with wall-to-wall synthetic pile. It was the "steel wool" type of pile as opposed to "yarn" pile. It ended up taking 5.5 hours.

I was cleaning the soot marks from all around the edges of a carpet in a home that had been sealed up for several years with the forced hot air heating left on. The soot had spread 1 inch from the baseboard and had periodic longer fingers about six inches long projecting into the middle of all the rooms and closets.

Extra strength Encap Green worked ok when a hand scrubber was used. I had two other stronger spotters too ...But I had to hand-scrub till exhaustion. Basically I cleaned the all the upstairs carpet edges with a little 1 by 2 inch hand brush and a narrow in-line grout brush.

The customer was unhappy about the job taking so long. The challenger cotton pads did nothing, not even on the fingers that came out into the room. The big green striped nylon scrubber had no impact either.

How would you guys out there approach this job? Would hot water extraction be better suited for this?
The customer on site was not the same person that booked me over the phone, and he thought I was going to be a "steam cleaner". He almost dismissed me upon arrival, but I asked to do a demo, and he let me do the job.

I did what I thought was a good job, but the customer felt that I should have removed 100% of all the soot. I certainly made a MAJOR improvement. It just took far too long... not something I want to repeat.

Re: Soot from forced hot air heating

You have described what are known in the c.c. industry as air filtration lines. They are caused by a flow of air carrying the by-products of combustion from oil burners, other form of HVAC equipment, fireplaces, - even from the burning of candles in the home. Most of us in the industry throw up our hands when we see them on a job, and (if we are smart) we advise the customer to keep his or her hopes down. It is unlikely that you will be able to fully remove them, although you may be able to reduce their appearance a little. The customer should be advised that the removal of air filtration lines is definitely NOT part of you arrived to do at their home. It would be kind of like your going to your dentist for a cleaning, and your dentist tells you that you have a bad case of gum disease. If you advise the dentist to go ahead and clean your teeth, then fix the gum disease, and then you say you will pay what you usually pay for a cleaning. I think at this point the dentist would say "Thank you. Goodbye. Next patient".
I have had some level of success, SOMETIMES, with my steam vapor machine. Steve Smith, owner of Vacaway
( claims that his CYCLONE product will remove air filtration lines. I don't know. I haven't used the product. Give him a call and see what he says.
To avoid repeating the kind of fruitless experience you just had, if you think you have found an air filtration line remedy, be sure to try it in a limited area, so that both you and the customer can see what the results of your efforts are likely to be. If you do a Google search under "air filtration lines" together with the word "carpet" you will be taken to a lot of carpet cleaners' websites where they explain to potential customers that these lines are unlikely to be removed via their cleaning.

Re: Soot from forced hot air heating

In fact, I told the customer (the daughter) over the phone that I didn't think I could get soot out (prior experience), but that I would give it a try. She said ok, come clean the carpet and try the edges.

When I arrived, it was the father-in-law who spoke little English that met me at the house. He insisted that I get all those lines out, and I was going to lose the (much needed) job if I changed my price.

Actually somebody on a HWE forum (an HWE guy who permanently switched to bonnet, by the way) said that hand-worked dry carpet shampoo worked really well for him on filtration lines followed by the normal bonnet process.

So for my heroic efforts on the filtration lines, I didn't not get the credit I deserved from the customer. Oh well, I did get some much needed cash plus and education on filtration lines, however.

I did write that "very difficult job due to forced-hot-air soot" on the receipt, just to toot my horn.


Re: Soot from forced hot air heating

Hi Jon,

Like Mark said these filtration lines are a bear. I pre-spray with my new spotter NSR 500... If your're the same Jon K in MA a sample is in the mail. BTW - I need to send Mark some samples and get his feedback. :-)

I had a job this Friday with a customer whose olefin was stained with dog sweat/fur oil, furniture shellac, and had filtration lines along the baseboard. Walking the job beforehand and pointing out to the customer that not all stains are created equal has saved my butt time and again. Sure, I'd like to get out every stain but that's not realistic. Especially when it comes to deep pet stains. With so many factors coming into play it's best to under commit and over deliver.

BTW, I was able to get up the dog sweat/oil, 90% on the filtration lines, but not the furniture oil (it lightened greatly). The funny thing is the customer was most excited about the kids bedroom which had tons of little makeup, koolaid, paint, chalk and other spots. That's what makes this job interesting. I knew when I walked the job their biggest concern was the kids rooms. Delivering a great clean in those areas made them very happy. To be honest I was more concerned about the furniture and filtration stains.



Re: Soot from forced hot air heating


I re-read your post and sounds like you were working a nylon frieze. I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of carpet types and may agree that nylon can be one of the toughest fiber types to clean. I think the agitation of OP is what does most of the work but also believe the “right” product and pad combo goes a long way to making the job go quickly. I use the turbo pad and glider because it seems the reduced drag of the polyester blend pad plus the glider allow me to work the carpet from a number of directions plus reduce the chance of tip blooming. As for product I mix it up, sometimes it’s an encapsulation product and others a combo of abstraction vlm and tlc

Funny you should say the customer was put off because you didn’t arrive with a TM unit. That happened to me only once and it was this past December. I explained to the customer the process and the benefits of OP but they decided to select a local splash and dash offering a $99, 3 room special. I did their neighbor’s home offering 3 rooms and a hallway for $120. The neighbor was so pleased that before I was done they had me do the entire house which turned into a $300+ pay day. I heard later from the same customer their neighbor who turned me away spent $348 on the 3 room special and felt taken (duh!). Sometimes you just have to let it go and spend your time and energy on productive things. It’ll all work out.



PS – Some people love to drink the sizzle. My HWE competition likes to brag their equipment costs $100,000 and produces H3O (a hydronium ion – acid). I got to ask if the H30 really has any time to react before getting sucked back up.

I like to brag my clean is the best plus I use tons less water, dry without air movers, don’t run noisy diesel equipment, or run hoses, and use bio based products.