Kirby Sentria

January 31, 2013

vacuum referral art ready for blog

Make:

Kirby

Model:

Sentria

Upright:

x

Canister:

Weight:

23lbs

Cord length:

25’

Available at:

kirby.com

Sentria

Uses:

Residential: yes     Commercial: yes     Heavy Duty: yes

It’s probably been 15 years or more since I last used a Kirby vacuum cleaner so I was really interested to see what has changed in their machines. The first thing I noticed about the Sentria was that it is a machine that screams, I’m big, I’m tough, and I’m rough enough to take anything you can throw at me. At 23 pounds of practically indestructible metal construction I expected it to be very cumbersome and hard to push around. Well, thanks to a feature called TechDrive power assist that was not the case.  TechDrive power assist,  is sort of a self-propel system that comes standard. It is activated by a foot switch and when engaged it makes the Sentria considerably easier to push around than when not engaged.

Without a doubt Kirby has given this vacuum all the suction power you will ever need. You can actually see it lifting the carpet as you vacuum, which creates better air flow, thus allowing for a more thorough job. I used it on quite a few different carpet styles including commercial, and in wide open areas I really liked the way the Sentria performed. When I had to maneuver around furniture though, the machines bulk did become an issue. Vacuuming around desk legs, chairs, tables, and the like was quite a bit more difficult than with some lighter weight machines.

If you have ever read my reviews before you know I place high marks on how well the attachments on any vacuum cleaner work. On the Sentria I found the attachments to work far better than on most other vacuum cleaners. The downside here was hooking them up. I like to be able to just plug the attachment hose into the machine, maybe flip a switch, and go. With the Kirby it was not quite so easy. You have to go through 4 steps (none of which are hard) that took me probably 60- 90 seconds. So if you only have to do it once, no big deal. If however you are like me and use your machine multiple times a day, and hook up the attachments frequently each time, this gets to be an issue.

There are a whole bunch of other features to the Sentria that I didn’t use so I can’t comment on but they included: hardwood floor cleaner, blower (like in leaf), carpet shampooer, ability to fill up things like air mattresses. One feature I did try was using it to vacuum stairs. The handle comes off and the cleaning head becomes the perfect size for stairs. Again it was a simple process to remove the handle but it did take a minute or so to do.

So, as far as how well the Kirby Sentria picked the dirt up from the carpet, and the fact that it will pretty much never wear out I give it very high marks. On the issue of ease of use though, I’m not quite so impressed. If you only use your vacuum cleaner maybe every couple of weeks, you may find the inconveniences not worth worrying about; but if you use it daily,and ease of use is an important factor, I would recommend trying the Sentria out for a few days before purchasing it.

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Recurring Spots

December 30, 2011

Few things in the carpet cleaning industry are as frustrating as those dreaded recurring spots. As cleaners we show up at your house, do what we think is a picture perfect cleaning job, only to have you call us back in a few days informing us that those pesky coffee, ink, wine, grease, etc spots are back. This is not a terribly frequent problem for the experienced technician, but it does happen and returning to solve the problem is what can really separate the true pro from the mere tyro.

As a professional who is concerned with his quality of work, and his reputation I seldom complain about these call backs (well, at least not out loud), but instead appreciate the chance to return and correctly finish what I started. It’s not always the fault of the cleaner and there are a number of reasons why those spots in your carpet can return:

  • The spot was not fully removed.
  • The spot was removed but the spotting agent used to remove it was not fully rinsed out.
  • The spot soaked beyond the surface into the carpet backing or pad and gradually wicked back up (almost always the case with pet stains).

These are a few of the most common causes and the first two are easily dealt with and only take a few minutes to correct.  In the third case though, once things soak down beyond the carpet surface they can be difficult to deal with. If the spot is small enough there are special tools that may remove it, but often the problem can’t be solved unless the carpet is pulled up, cleaned from the back, and new pad is installed. This creates a lot of extra work and expense and most of the time is not a viable option.

One thing that I have learned over the years is that knowledge often comes from experience. If the cleaning technician or whoever may have come to your house first, takes the time to carefully look at problem areas and then asks a few questions, they will often know right then if these are spots that are likely to return, and can then discuss the possible results. Now, he’s a professional who’s correctly telling you what to expect rather than a guy having to apologize for a lousy job. Big difference!

As the homeowner there are also a few steps you can take to help prevent undesirable cleaning results. We’ve talked about recurring spots but now let’s talk about its close cousin, resoiling. Resoiling would be a post cleaning substance that has been left on the carpet. Sometimes this is also the fault of the cleaner but not always. If the cleaner did not properly rinse the carpet, the soapy residue thats left behind can quickly attract more dirt. In just a few days it will look like the carpet was never cleaned.

What often also happens in the case of resoiling is not the fault of the cleaning company. Most professional cleaners will suggest that you stay off the carpet until it is dry. We can suggest this, but remember, we can’t tell you what to do in your house. If people don’t take the suggestion of the cleaner and proceed to walk around on the wet carpet, by the time it’s dry, it won’t look clean any longer. The wet carpet actually does a really good job of cleaning off the bottom of your shoes. Add to that any accidental food or drink spills and, well you get the picture.

So there you have a few reasons as to why those unwanted spots have a sneaky way of showing up again. In any case, if you are working with a reputable cleaning company, your phone call should always be welcomed, and a return visit should be done in a timely and courteous manner.

Thanks for reading and next time I will try to tackle the difficult question of what is “green cleaning”.

Remember, Avoid Uneducated, Uninformed, and Sometimes Downright Unscrupulous Carpet Cleaners!


Do I need stain protector?

December 13, 2011

As I go about my daily carpet cleaning jobs there are many questions that I get asked with a fair amount of regularity. Today I’m going to address the question of post cleaning stain protectors. You chose your new carpet carefully, did your due diligence in selecting a cleaner, and now after he finishes the job the question of stain protector comes up. In a perfect world I would say, you did your homework in selecting a reputable cleaner, so going on his recommendation would be a safe bet. Well as we all know the world is not always perfect.

Even some of the best cleaners out there often overlook some of the more subtle tools of our trade. I recently heard a manufacture rep. say that only about 50% of cleaners offer stain protectors. My own experience tells me that of that 50%, only about half of them apply the products properly. When not applied properly the products don’t work, and you the customer, have wasted your money. Now that said, let’s talk about the products that are correctly applied.

Most of you have heard of the big brand names such as Scotchgard, Teflon, Stain Shield etc. These are good products that can be valuable tools in helping to keep your freshly cleaned carpet looking clean. Just as important though, they can keep that occasional red wine, coffee, juice etc. spill from leaving permanent stains. Thus when properly applied, I highly recommend protectors in your high traffic areas.

That may be plenty of information for most people, but I know how much some of you like to know how things work so here is a simple explanation of the intricacies of stain protectors. Stain protectors are primarily designed to work on nylon carpet, but using them on any other fabric is a perfectly safe and acceptable thing to do.

The majority of stain protectors are all Fluorochemicals. When applied properly Fluorchemicles can repel both water and oil based soils which can be very beneficial to the life and appearance of your carpet.

Fluorochemical protectors work by lowering the surface energy or tension of the carpet or furniture. Surface energy or tension is the attraction of molecules in a water-based solution. Think of putting a drop of water on a non-porous counter top, the reason it beads up is the result of low surface tension. So by lowering the surface tension of carpet, the result is similar,  the spill beads up and doesn’t soak into the fabric.

Some protectors also contain what are called acid dye blockers. These have all the advantages of fluorochenicals plus they can repel those Kool-Aid and food dye stains. If you were to take one individual strand of nylon that makes up carpet an look at it under a microscope you would see what are called the dye sites (kind of like pores). Acid dye blockers get in and fill / clog those sites creating a negative charge at the fibers surface, thus blocking the food dyes from attaching to the fiber (food dyes are also negative). As you can see, making carpet stain resistant is all about chemistry and it can be a very effective tool in extending the life of your carpet.

We often only think of using protectors on carpet, but don’t forget that they can also be used just as effectively on upholstery.

Thanks for reading and next time we’ll talk about those recurring spots.


Upholstery Cleaning

August 6, 2011

25 years ago when I purchased my first brand new carpet cleaning machine I had a minimal amount of experience in the industry, so understandably I had a lot of questions. I fired off my seemingly endless list, listened carefully to the answers, and then had the salesman take me through a hands- on demonstration of how to clean carpet. Once all my concerns were addressed I started loading all my new equipment into my van and just as I was about to close the door the guy said “don’t forget this”. He held up another tool and said “it’s your upholstery tool. It hooks up to your machine so you can clean sofas.” Cool I thought; now not only can I clean carpet but I’m also a professional upholstery cleaner.

I’d like to say that because of that afterthought I went on to a successful upholstery cleaning business. NOT HARDLY!!!! After one ruined sofa (cost me $700), some almost ruined chairs, and a whole bunch of things that didn’t come clean, I figured it was time for another list of endless questions.

Unfortunately, most other cleaners out there have about that same amount of experience and knowledge when it comes to upholstery.

When it comes to fine fabric cleaning, thorough knowledge of fibers, fabrics, and everything related is not only helpful, but also crucial. This knowledge allows the true pro to qualify the work, and choose the safest, most effective cleaning method.

Fabrics are produced using many types of fiber and construction with different dyes, finishes, and coatings. For these reasons you cannot expect to safely clean every fiber type using only one specific cleaning technique. Today’s professionals must look well beyond the “wet cleaning” or dry cleaning” methods stamped on the furniture’s sewn on labels.

Today’s furniture comes in many different materials and styles and each one has definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to cleaning. Although microfiber and rayon velvet look similar, the difference in cleaning is huge. A properly trained professional needs to know how to identify the fiber, the weave (velvet, chenille, jacquard, etc.).  There are many published standards on how to effectively clean the plethora of textiles out there, and each of them has its own nuisances, but the basics to them all are all the same. The keys are:

  1. Fiber Characteristics: A pro better know how to identify what he’s cleaning.
  2. Yarn Construction: Know what causes problems.
  3. Fabric Construction: Understand different weaves (velvet, satin, jacquard, etc).
  4. Designs: Are they surface designs or woven in?
  5. Finishes and Coatings: Often on the back of the material as well and can easily be damaged.
  6. Dyes: Some are stable, some will easily bleed together.
  7. Trim: Arm covers, wood trim, welting, cushion foam, etc.

So, as you can see there is much more to cleaning your upholstery than just buying a tool and a machine. When considering a professional make sure to ask questions and check his credentials. If the answers you get are not satisfactory or sound at all made up, call somebody else.

Thanks for reading, next time we’ll talk stain protectors.


Carpet Types

June 26, 2011

When buying new carpet most consumers have a hard time trying to figure out the difference between all the different fibers, and which one would be best for them. There are many different fibers available on the market today, but for this article I am going to stick with the most common types found at your local carpet stores. There are also many different variations of certain fibers and again I will try to keep this as non- technical as possible.

The majority of carpet today is made of one of four materials: wool, nylon, polypropylene (Olefin), or polyester.

Nylon

First discovered in 1938 by DuPont chemists, it is the most commonly used fiber in carpet today. Rated as one of the longest wearing fibers, it is also very cleanable, stain resistant, resists abrasion, moth proof, and non-allergenic. All of these pluses make for a very durable carpet. Nylon comes in two types, type 6, and type 6.6. Some retailers will swear 6.6 is better, but many studies have been done by chemical engineers and they find little overall performance difference between the two.

The leading brand names in nylon that you have probably heard of are; Invista (formerly DuPont) and Mohawk (formerly Solutia Wear Dated). Invista makes Stainmaster, and Mohawk makes Wear Dated. Both Invista and Mohawk have done a great job making their products stain and wear resistant; but buyers beware. Like anything else there are different qualities of each, and the better the quality the better the carpet. In Stainmaster there is Extra Body II, then Tactesse, then Luxerell Stainmaster as their top of the line.   A good salesperson will be able to show you examples of each which is why I always recommend a reputable retailer over a “big box” store.

When buying nylon carpet I personally recommend looking at the newer “soft nylons”. The manufactures did a pretty good job in making the fiber very soft in order to try to duplicate the feel of wool. They cost a little more but the quality is definitely better and most people are very happy with the choice.  Names to look for in soft nylon are Tactesse and Luxerell by Invista, DuraSoft by Mohawk, or Anso Caress by Shaw.  Here again is where you will need the help of a knowledgeable salesperson.

I clean more nylon than any other fiber type and with proper care it will  look and feel great for many years.

Wool

If you want the most luxurious feel and look possible wool carpet is still your best choice. It comes in pretty much every style and color, commercial or residential, with the best wools coming from New Zealand.

Appearance aside wool has many other advantages including:

  • Natural flame resistance (very important in commercial settings where smoking is permitted).
  • When the proper color is chosen for the environment it is excellent at hiding soil.
  • Wool is a very strong, yet still flexible and resilient so it springs back well.

Wool will stain much easier than synthetics so if you tend to spill a lot of coffee and red wine, or if you like to wear your boots in the house, and only vacuum on special occasions, then wool may not be for you.

Wool is not hard to maintain but when it comes time to clean it, I cannot emphasize enough, the importance of choosing a well trained, experienced carpet cleaner. With a little bit of care your carpet will always say; luxury and style live here.

Still my personal favorite.

 

Polyester

Polyester first entered the carpet industry in the 1960’s. Although it was a fairly durable fiber there were many other problems with it. So much so that many retailers stopped selling it and we really didn’t see much of it for quite a few years. Now jump forward to the mid 1990’s and we had the birth of the “new polyester”. The new polyester fiber is called PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate), and it is definitely not the polyester of old.  It is stronger, more abrasion resistant, and is very resistant to staining. I have cleaned it in many homes and very seldom come across a spot or stain that I can’t get out.

The fiber is partially made from recycled plastic containers, and this is what they’re talking about when people say their carpet was made from 7up bottles. Recycling does not affect the PET’s performance so it can be recycled over and over again.

When considering Polyester carpet you will also hear about a material called PTT. Although it is similar to PET, PTT is actually not considered polyester. It has been sold under various names, but currently it is called Triexta. It is a very soft fabric that kind of combines all the best qualities of nylon and polyester. If your carpet gets a lot of heavy use from kids, parties, pets, spills, etc. this may be a material you want to consider. Keep in mind though that since this is still a reasonably new fiber it will probably go through a few changes so you need a carpet professional who really stays on top of those changes. Again look for a reputable retailer.

Olefin (Polypropylene)

Anyone who knows me has heard me say that, just because something is not expensive and often gets a bad rap, doesn’t mean it does not have a place. Olefin is the most stain resistant fiber out there and tends to wear well when used in low pile carpet. The main problem with it occurs because they have to add oil to it during the manufacturing process. This oil stays in the fiber so after it’s installed in your home it will soil and mat down faster than other materials. The fact that it easily mats down is the reason you only want it in low pile styles. It is also a very heat sensitive fiber and melts easy. Even something as simple as dragging a piece of furniture on it can generate enough heat to leave a burn, and if you smoke this is not a good choice. On the other hand, if you only need new carpet to last a few years and it is going to take some heavy abuse, then take a look at Olefin. It costs less than the other materials and it may suit your purpose just fine.

I hope this bit of information will make your shopping a little less confusing. Remember to only buy from a reputable, educated and informed carpet store and your new carpet will be a happy purchase.

Next time we’ll talk upholstery.


Vacuum Review: Dirt Devil Featherlite

June 15, 2011

Make:

Dirt Devil

Model:

Featherlite

Upright:

x

Canister:

Weight:

12lbs.

Cord length:

25’

Available at:

Danny’s Vacuum Shop

1 Padre Pkwy.

Rohnert Park Ca. 94928

707-584-0225

 

Uses:

Residential: x         Commercial:         Heavy Duty:

 Summary:

 

Over the course of the last few years a number of people have asked me why I never review any vacuums that cost less than $150. My answer has always been the same; “because they don’t make one that works”. As of today I’m glad to say that Dirt Devil has proven me wrong. The 12 pound Featherlite rings the register at less than half of that at a whopping $70. Now, my answer to the sub $150 vacuum is, buy two of these, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. It comes in bagged or bagless models but this review is for the model requiring a bag.

Given the price tag of the Featherlite, this is not a machine with solid metal parts, HEPA filtration, a Xenon headlight, and all the other bells and whistles made to last 30+ years. What it does have though is a 12 amp motor that provides great suction on most common household carpet. I used it on a low pile carpet, and an average cut pile carpet, with very good results on both. Make sure you buy extra bags because the way this machine picks up they fill up fast. It was very easy to push, maneuvered just fine around furniture, and is quite a bit quieter than most real light weight machines. I also liked the way it cleaned right up close to the wall, especially with the front edge. It has on-board attachments that work just fine, although I always recommend getting a 10’ – 12’ hose to use them with.

Basic, simple, and under $100 this is the perfect machine for things like: leaving upstairs, a son or daughter leaving for college, an RV, or even a small office. A very enthusiastic four out of five stars here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                            

 

 

Golden Gate Carpet Cleaning

 643 Martin Ave. #3Rohnert Park, Ca. 94928 – 707-588-8879


Vacuum Review: Riccar Radiance

June 1, 2011

Make:

Riccar

Model:

Radiance

Upright:

X

Canister:

Weight:

23lbs

Cord length:

34’

Available at:

The Sewing &Vacuum Place

1250 Mendocino Ave

Santa Rosa,CA95401

707-575-5259

 Uses:

Residential: x     Commercial:x     Heavy Duty:x    

 Summary:

Riccar’s top of the line machine has everything you could want in a vacuum; from its looks, suction power, filtration, and durability it is top notch. I used it on every type of carpet available soiled with pet hair and outdoor debris, and there’s no doubt that this machine does a better job of removing soil from carpet than any other machine I’ve used in my 25 years of cleaning. It has a two motor system that drives the machine allowing for the superior performance.

The HEPA filtration will remove 99.97% of dust particles down to .3 microns in size, so allergy sufferers have a real friend here. There is a whole list of other noteworthy features that I won’t bore you with (they can be found on Riccar’s website) but there are a couple I’d like to mention. Radiance has a ribbed belt that will last many years and it uses a lot of metal parts instead of plastic which again lead to long lasting durability. Breaking a cheap plastic part while changing the belt will not be an issue here.

When not vacuuming carpet the power switch allows the user to turn the beater bar off and use suction only on hard surface floors. Another feature I really liked occurs when the handle is in the upright position and the beater bar automatically shuts off. I found this useful when I would stop to move a piece of furniture and consequently did not have to worry about the brush running in one place (could cause the carpet to fuzz up). On board tools and a telescoping wand make it handy for vacuuming corners and upholstery but as always I still recommend getting a 10’ – 12’ hose made up for attachment use.

All the quality and durability does come at a price though. This is a heavy machine and comes with a retail price of about $900. I read other reviews where people raved about how easy the machine was to push, but I must say that I really disagree. It’s a fairly heavy machine and I found it a bit cumbersome to push and maneuver, not to mention the chore of carrying it up and down stairs.

If you are fairly strong, don’t mind the extra effort to push it around, and want the best vacuum cleaning power out there, then this American made beauty is for you.

 

Golden Gate Carpet Cleaning

 643 Martin Ave. #3Rohnert Park, Ca. 94928 – 707-588-8879