A stretched, rippled carpet is an unsightly problem. Not only is it ugly, it can even be a little dangerous as it can be tripped on, potentially causing injury. What causes carpet to stretch? And what can you do about it?
Stretched or loose carpet can sometimes be a feature of improper installation. There are two tools used by carpet installers to stretch carpet over floors. The first, knee-kickers, are less powerful and used in smaller spaces. The second, power stretchers, are used in larger areas. Because knee-kickers are faster and carpet installers are paid by the yard installed per day, installers will often use them to install carpet, therefore installing more carpet in a shorter time span. If you think this might be your problem, get a hold of the company you purchased from as soon as possible. They will usually send the installer back to remove the ripples. Make sure you hire reputable local installers to prevent this problem from happening in the first place. Look for recommendations from friends or your local home improvement store.
High humidity can cause carpet to relax and stretch due to the latex backing becoming warped. This is especially true in tropical climates. If you have central AC, this isn’t as much of a problem, but if you don’t, there’s not much you can do except to make sure you keep your carpet as dry as possible. Be wary of steam carpet cleaning, as this can exacerbate a problem that you may not have even noticed before.
Sometimes, tack strips that are used to hold carpet down are damaged during an install. This can cause them to lose their grip over time and the carpet to warp. They will need to be replaced.
Heavy furniture can stretch carpet when you move it, so be careful and place heavy furniture on sliders if you plan to move it with any amount of frequency. Not only will this make it easier for you practice your feng-shui, it will prevent dragging and carpet stretching.
Incorrect padding, such as padding that is too thick, can cause the carpet to come loose from the tack strips and buckle. Make sure you choose the correct padding for your carpet.
Plain old age can cause carpet stretching. Walking, moving furniture, steam cleaning, scrubbing, and weather can all affect the integrity of a carpet and cause the fabric structure itself to stretch. The lifespan of a carpet is only about 5-15 years, so if your carpet is starting to warp and get old, it might be time to replace.
Insufficient adhesive on a glue-down carpet can cause serious rippling problems. Humidity, water damage, and high alkalinity in the subfloor can all cause the adhesive to fail.
Never wait too long to have repairs done on your stretched carpet. The problem will become more severe over time and can cause creasing that will never come out. Once it gets to that point, no matter how hard you work, it will always look warped.