If there’s one thing that takes a beating in your home, it’s your carpet. It’s subject to constant traffic, the unavoidable occasional spill, general exposure to the elements — and the list goes on.If there’s one thing that takes a beating in your home, it’s your carpet. It’s subject to constant traffic, the unavoidable occasional spill, general exposure to the elements — and the list goes on. 

All these factors contribute to the visual wear and tear of your carpets. But they can also pose health risks to you and your family.

These can include various breathing problems like triggered allergies. Old carpet can also cause skin irritation and a lowered immune system, leaving you at risk of catching a cold or flu.

Sure, regular vacuuming and a good carpet cleaning can do wonders. But when is it time to let that trusty carpet go?

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell when it’s time for a new carpeting by just looking at it. That’s why we’ve created a handy guide to help you decide whether your carpet just needs a good cleaning, or if it’s time to say good-bye once and for all.

The Lifespan of a Carpet

In order to tell whether your current and future carpets need to be replaced, it’s important to first understand the lifespan of your carpet.

This will depend on various factors. An easy way to estimate how long your carpet will last is to know than on average, a carpet used by 2-4 adult family members with average maintenance typically lasts about 3-5 years.

When determining how long your carpet has before it needs to be replaced, you can use this measure as a gauge while also factoring in a few other components. For example, households with young children or pets are more likely to get a buildup of stains.

Other factors include whether the area of carpet has high, medium, or low levels of traffic compared to others, as well as what you do to maintain it. If you vacuum high traffic areas daily, you help maintain its lifespan.

For aesthetic purposes, you should also consider the color of the carpet as well. A carpet that’s too dark or too light could call for more needs for maintenance, and an overall shorter lifespan.

Signs it’s Time to Replace Your Carpet

After you’ve estimated around how long your carpet should last, you can determine other signs as to whether it’s time to let go of it.

Keep an eye (and nose) out for any signs of buildup on your carpet. There are a few basic signs  to help guide you in your decision:

Lingering Stains

While most carpets come with a stain resistant finish, that can wear off over time leaving your carpets far more susceptible to staining.

It may be time to invest in a new carpet if yours is becoming easily stained and many of them remain visible.

Take extra caution if some of them are biological stains or stains from pet waste, mold, or mildew, as these can cause health problems like allergies and breathing issues.

“Mystery” Allergies

Speaking of health problems, allergies can help you determine whether it’s time for a new carpet or not.

If you or someone in the household is experiencing an increase in allergy symptoms while at home and you just can’t seem to figure out why, it could be caused by your not-so-fresh carpet.

An Odd Smell

Do you notice an odd smell when you arrive home and you just can’t seem to find the source? You may want to see if your carpet is the culprit.

Perhaps you cleaned up a pet stain and visually it appears to be gone, but the scent lingers for days or even weeks.

This is a sign the odor has absorbed into the carpet pad and is likely causing mildew or mold. Time for a new carpet!

Visible Damage

Visible damage like matting, tears and other signs of wear are your carpet’s cry for help. Typically, these will occur in high traffic areas first, so check in on the hallways and entryways occasionally.

Certain materials like polyester can lose its form or “fluff,” and once it’s done, that’s that. Good-bye carpet.

Materials like nylon, however, can regain their zest with a good cleaning. Try out a nice thorough cleaning before tossing it all out.

The “Shape” of the Padding

Just because your carpet appears clean doesn’t mean it is. The carpet padding is the part that will let you know the true state of things.
Keep an eye out for certain slumps in your carpet, as that’s a sign the padding isn’t holding up and it might need to be replaced.

You should also be aware of any other odd things like wrinkles in the carpet appearing or a strange crinkling sound when its stepped on.

Carpet Maintenance Tips

If you haven’t been noticing any of these signs that it’s time to replace your carpet, congratulations!

The best bet at this point is to make sure you maintain it and help preserve its lifespan. Here’s how:

  • To preserve or extend the life of a carpet, high traffic areas should be vacuumed daily and light traffic areas every 2-3 days.
  • Be sure your vacuum is set to the right height. That means it’s not scraping your carpet, which can cause damage each time.
  • Make sure it’s not too high either, as you won’t pick up enough dirt. You can do this by setting your vacuum to the highest height then lowering it until you begin to feel it tug forward.
  • Use mats in your entrances where you can clean off your shoes before entering. Water absorbent mats can help lower the amount of water damage and risk of molds and mildew on your carpet.
  • Don’t be afraid to hire a professional. While rental carpet cleaners are great at attacking surface dirt, tackling the heavy duty stains, mildew and mold requires special tools and knowledge. Consider hiring a professional carpet cleaner every 12-18 months.

With proper maintenance and a knowledge of the signs your carpet is done for, chances are you’ll know exactly when to replace it and put yourself and your family at less risk of health issues caused by an old one.

The joys of a fresh carpet go far beyond health, too. There’s nothing like that feeling of a clean to the bone home after a new carpet or a well-done carpet cleaning.

Ready to call in the pros? Here’s what to do to prepare for a professional carpet cleaning »