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Claims file: Avoid the fox

by Lew Migliore

When you have a complaint about a product that you think has a manufacturing defect, do not send a sample to the maker to test for a defect. This is like letting the fox guard the hen house. The other day we received an email with photos of a square, patterned, Berber carpet consisting of high and low loops. The yarns in the high loops of the pattern were fuzzy and stringy which begged the question, “What’s wrong with this carpet?”

To find out the dealer sent an unused sample of the carpet to the manufacturer. The response was that the carpet was not defective and that the bundle wrap and encapsulation of the yarn and fiber were upwards of 90%. This would be a first for this type of carpet because it is virtually impossible to get those kinds of numbers on polypropylene Berbers with large yarn, which this was. Not that it can’t be done; it just isn’t. It would require careful penetration of richly compounded latex, with a low filler load, a specific viscosity and slower line speeds. This ain’t gonna happen on this type of product.

See for yourself

When this type of carpet is disassembled, (you can do this yourself by pulling a yarn out), look to see if there is latex penetrating the fiber that has that little bead of hard latex on it. That is the yarn bundle. Then pull the yarn back at the “bundle” and carefully remove the individual filaments that make up the yarn. You will be able to see if there’s latex on them. If there is no latex on the free filaments pulled from the yarn, then there’s no latex penetration or fiber lock.

You can determine a percentage of fiber lock based on this. The yarn bundle, if it doesn’t go all the way around the yarn, is not 100% either. However, take into consideration the yarn fastened around the secondary backing without latex on it physically prevents it from being 100%. If fiber is not anchored in the yarn it will result in filament slippage and that is the reason you’ll see all extended fiber on the surface.

This isn’t a test you have to be a genius to conduct. Common sense will tell you if 90% or less of the fiber is anchored into the yarn bundle. Just so you’re aware, tuft bind has nothing to do with filament slippage. They are two different things.

Product testing

Virtually no flooring manufacturer has the technical services department to conduct this type of test, as simple as it is. If you want to know if there’s something wrong with any flooring product you have a complaint on, whether it is carpet, vinyl, wood, laminate, cork or ceramic, it must be sent to a certified lab. There are actual standard tests to check the structural integrity of products’ colorfastness, flexibility, dimensional stability, etc., to determine if the product is defective or not. This being stated, don’t expect the results to liberate you from liability. Very often we find that the product is fine and the problem was overselling.

If you want to test a product and find out for sure whether there is really something wrong with it causing a problem, you can send it to us. We can have the product tested in the industry’s best testing lab and then interpret the results. The lab can furnish test results but they do not interpret the findings. This is a more elaborate undertaking but you will know if the product is the problem or if it is something else.

If you need help with anything like this, contact us. You may not get the answer you want but you’ll get the right answer and you’ll know why you have a problem. Then, you can avoid it in the future.