Carpet Pooling: Why does my carpet look like that?

All pile yarn carpet is subject to pile reversal; however, it is most likely to be observed in smooth surfaced, densely constructed, plush type qualities. This phenomenon is difficult, if not impossible, to predict or prevent. Pile reversal creates a permanent change in the carpet’s appearance caused by the difference in the way light reflects off the sides and tip of a yarn as the pile lays in different directions. Shaded areas appear light from one direction and dark from another direction. After a period of use, the carpet may look as though water has spilled on sections of the carpet, hence, the term “water-marking.” Other terms also commonly used to describe pile reversal are “pooling,” “shading,” and “highlighting.”

What does carpet pooling look like?
Carpet pooling also referred to as “watermarking,” occurs when an area of carpet fibers lay in a different direction than the rest of the fibers. To visualize the effects of carpet pooling, run your hand over an area of carpeting. Now stand back and look at the area you have just rubbed. Does the spot appear darker than the rest of the carpeting? Or perhaps it appears lighter from another angle, depending on how the fibers have been laid over.

When carpet pooling occurs, you will notice spots that look like they have been rubbed over when, in fact, no disturbance has taken place. The affected area may vary in size from a small spot to a rather large area and will display defined, random edges to the problem. In other words, it will be obvious where the areas of carpet pooling stop and start.

This is the same rug, viewed from two different angles. The change in colors is not due to staining, but carpet pooling.

What causes carpet pooling?
The causes of carpet pooling are not well documented. However, there are a few theories about the cause:

1.       Carpet pooling will often occur adjacent to trafficked areas. However, the area does not have to have been heavily trafficked, and from time to time pooling will occur in nearly new carpet where little foot traffic has taken place.

2.       The presence of electromagnetic fields is thought to have some effect on carpet pooling, with the fields causing carpet fibers to automatically lay in non-uniform directions.

3.       Static electricity has also been blamed for carpet pooling. In some instances, a distinct change in static charge has been measured inside of pooled areas.

Unfortunately, there is no definite answer as to the cause of carpet pooling, thus leaving even the best cared-for carpet susceptible to this mysterious malady.

Can I do anything about it?
Unfortunately, carpet pooling cannot be repaired without replacing the carpet. And, even then, there’s no guarantee that the new carpet won’t pool. The good news is that carpet pooling does not affect the durability of the carpet. Additionally, the problem won’t be exacerbated by cleaning, nor regular vacuuming maintenance.

If you believe that carpet pooling is occurring in your home, ask us about it during your next visit from Select Floor Care. We’d be happy to better explain the issue and confirm that the odd appearance of your carpet is, in fact, caused by pooling.

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