Flooring Inspection Safari: Knee Kicker Carpet Tears

knee kicker tear | Carpet Expert Glenn Revere

Knee Kicker: a short device with gripper teeth on one end and a cushion on the other. It is used by installers to stretch carpet in small areas, like closets. It is also used to position the carpet onto the tackless strip before power stretching. The installer puts the teeth into the pile and bumps the padded end with the area just above the knee. (From All About Carpets: Everything You Need to Know)

After installing a new carpet, it is normal to see an occasional loose tuft or thread here and there. It is not normal to still see loose tufts coming out of the new carpet after a few weeks.

There are several reasons for tufts (carpet yarns) to work out of the carpet backing. There might be a problem with the way the carpet was made. Or loose tufts could be related to the installation process.

I was recently asked to look at a new installation that had tufts popping up in a bedroom doorway.

When I arrived, I saw that the carpet was installed in three bedrooms separated by a wood-floored hallway. The carpet in the bedrooms stopped at the wood. Loose tufts were evident in the master bedroom entry, 6”-8” from the wood and 6”-8” apart. When I pulled up on the carpet in the center of the room, I lifted it off the floor about 2 inches.

I rubbed my hand over the carpet around the edges of the room. Sure enough, loose tufts 6”-8” apart popped up 6” away from the walls.

I held a lighted 5-power magnifier above a loose tuft in the doorway. With an awl, I carefully separated the individual face yarns until I could clearly see the carpet backing. The backing was split and shredded. Tufts were literally falling out of the torn backing.

I checked a large piece of uninstalled carpet. The backing was firmly attached. The face yarns would not pull out when I yanked on them.

Here’s what happened. The installer used a knee kicker to stretch the carpet in the master bedroom. Because of the room’s size, he should have used a power stretcher instead. That would have assured a tight stretch. Either the knee kicker had a bent or broken gripper tooth that cut the carpet backing, or the installer used too much force on the kicker when he stretched the carpet. In any case, the carpet backing was broken every 6”-8” near the walls, allowing carpet tufts to pull out. The carpet is permanently damaged. Eventually, bare spots will appear. And the carpet is too loose. It will eventually wrinkle.

This is a clear case of installer error.


Who is Glenn Revere?

Glenn Revere has been a carpet expert since 1973. He’s a certified flooring inspector and the author of All About Carpets, the only book written to protect and inform you about your carpet choices, from carpet buying and carpet warranties to carpet care and maintenance. You can find him on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.


Photo: Glenn Revere


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