My Carpet: Nuisance or Health Hazard?

andaleeMarch 9, 2012

We're currently renting while we struggle to finish our carriage house. (Farmhouse to follow in a couple years.) We're (still . . . ) in this rental, and I've had it with the carpet. It's old (possibly original to the 25-year-old house), hasn't been maintained well, has a couple of bald spots, and has been "fuzzing" the entire time we've lived here . . . but tonight I really realized how much its deteriorating. I just got a new commercial-grade canister vac (vroom, vroom; love it!), and used it to vacuum the ~500 sq ft of carpet downstairs and one flight of carpeted stairs to try it out.

When I started, I had to open up the relief valve on the handle so I could push the vacuum head along the carpet. If I lifted the vacuum head with the valve shut, it would lift the carpet along with it for a surprising distance before letting go. Just over halfway through the vacuuming, I noticed that the suction was really diminished (I needed to shut the relief valve to get decent suction), and that the vacuum had grown hot. I finished up and checked the bag . . . and it's 3/4 full of carpet fuzz and fine, gray, powdery stuff. I'm familiar with the mix, as it's what I've been pulling out of my ancient Kirby's (love it, too) fabric bag, for two and a half years now. But I didn't realize how darn much there was to pull out. The bits of carpet fiber get on EVERYTHING . . . if I pick up my 15 month old, who still crawls most of the time, I'm covered with it. I keep on thinking "I won't bring it up with the landlord, since we're going to be moving in a month anyway . . ." but that story has worn out its welcome, since it's looking like we're still several months away at this rate.

So . . . someone tell me, who knows all about this stuff: is this just highly annoying run down carpet, or is this a health hazard? We've got a really reasonable and laid-back landlord (sometimes I think a little too laid back ;o), but he has been really great, so I don't want to pester him with things that aren't worth it. The rest of the downstairs flooring is original (el cheapo) chipped and cracked white ceramic tile with gag-inducing grout (even when I scrub it, I can't get all of the grime out and make it evenly mauve, as it's supposed to be). Really, all of the flooring should be ripped out and replaced, but that's kind of hard to do with furniture, a grand piano, and a family of eight bouncing around. (Not that a 671 lb piano bounces . . . lol. The saying in our house is "Don't bump into the piano; it wins.")

So, please . . . let me hear your thoughts!

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Sophie Wheeler

It's not a health hazard unless you have someone with extensive allergies in the family. It's just what you expect in a rental. Landlords do not replace anything when the dwelling is occupied by tenants. The only time stuff gets replaced is in between tenants, and if it can be avoided then, the old crap has to stretch to cover the next rental period as well. The only time you'll ever get a landlord to replace something is if it's like a fridge that totally breaks down. Then you can expect something like a $300 non self defrosting piece-o-crap to replace the 30 year old almond hulk that died.

You're probably greatly increasing the wear and tear on the carpet by using a super-vac. The backing may be breaking down as well as the carpet fiber itself shedding. Switch to crappier vacuum and just close your eyes and hum for a few months until you can move out.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 11:13AM
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Hi Holly, and thanks for your thoughts.

We're no strangers to rentals . . . more than half of the last 14 years have been spent in rentals, and we've seen our share of the whole spectrum, from a management company that stole from us and turned us into collections for the privilege, to a one-woman shop that loved us and we loved her. Our current landlord is a one-man show, and he has given us a far freer rein than anyone else we've rented from. He has been prompt with repairs, and changed the way he does things to accommodate us (including not spraying the lawn due to our concerns about chemical use and our allergies/chemical sensitivities). Really, the furniture could be moved to the bonus room to allow the flooring to be replaced, and the piano could be shifted to the new flooring to allow the nook it's in to be worked on. So, while not ideal or easy, it's definitely doable. We have friends that would help with the couches (lightweight and sturdy), and could get several men together to roll the piano across the room.

As for the house, it had been on the market for a long time, and we rented it when they took it off. I think the owner didn't make any updates (other than replacing the white tile by the door with granite tiles) because he wants to sell it. He'll have to do something, whether it's replace it before he lists it again, or offer a flooring allowance in the sale.

We have a daughter that has developed asthma since we've lived here (I think it's a combination of the carpeting and the pollution from a nearby rail line and highway), so that's one of my main motivations . . . that and the baby crawling on it. (Yuk yuk yuk.)

Anyone else know?

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 2:26PM
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