Inspection Safari: Carpet Sprouts – Causes and Solutions

carpet yarn sprout | carpet expert Glenn Revere

Last week, I inspected a large commercial installation. The complaint came in as “loose tufts and snags”. What I found was something very different: sprouts.

As defined in my book, All About Carpets, “sprouts are long ends of yarns that protrude above the pile surface…Sprouting is a defect only if excessive and unserviceable.”

When I looked across the large, open, glued-down (no padding) installation, it appeared someone had dropped small ball bearings all over this tufted carpet. What I actually saw were random longer loops of carpet pile that were sticking up above the rest of the level loop pile. So what was going on? Had something yanked loops out of the carpet backing? Or was it something else?

Tufted carpet is made by using needles that stitch carpet yarns into a thin sheet of material. As many as 1,000 needles run across a width of carpet. Each needle sets a looped yarn at a predetermined height. For cut-pile carpet, a knife cuts each loop as it is placed in the carpet backing. A latex compound adheres the yarns to this material, called the primary backing.

Sometimes, the yarns are not glued in properly. Then, the tufts slip out or are pulled out when the carpet is walked upon or when it is vacuumed. The carpet backing rips and you can see the damage. The tufts have blobs of glue on them indicating that they had been pulled from the backing.

Sprouts have a different cause. As I mentioned above, the computer-controlled tufting needles insert the carpet yarns at a predetermined height. Like anything, mistakes happen. Sometimes a needle places the tufts too high or too low. When the tufts are too high, you’ll see a “high row” or high line run through the pattern. When the tufts are too low, you’ll see a “low row” or low line in the carpet. You won’t see any glue spots on these tufts.

In this particular case, many needles randomly placed high loops throughout the carpet roll. The high loops were as close as 6” to each other and as far apart as 17”. There were several hundred high loops scattered across the carpet pile throughout the installation. There was no visible damage to the carpet backing. There were no glue spots anywhere on the high tufts. All the tufts were strongly adhered to the backing.

So this complaint was clearly manufacturing related. We service these types of problems by clipping or shearing the high loops. But, because of the large number of loops involved, the end user did not want the carpet repaired. The carpet was replaced.


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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