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Letters to the Editor: August ICS

October 19, 2000
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A cleaner sounds off about Bob Wittkamp's August 2000 column...

Re: August ICS (Carpet Cleaning Basics column)

I would like to start my letter by saying that although my firm has cleaned since 1984, we are new to the IICRC. We consider the information we receive as extremely valuable and our goal is to strive for all the information and IICRC certifications we can. Information is a wonderful thing. The difference between good and great many times is only information. Thanks for being a source we look forward for each new issue!

I would however like to note two things that we have concerns with. First, we are a dry foam company and the informational support for us in the IICRC seems dismal at best. The IICRC classes appear to be slanted towards hot water extraction and for the most part there is so much information and little hands on. We would like whatever information your staff might be able to give us to improve our overall dry foam performance. We do clean according to standard S001.

That brings me to my second concern. In your August 2000 issue, in Bob Wittkamp’s article on page 38, Bob states “one of the first tools brought in and set up should be the vacuuming system for dry soil removal,” this appears to be in accordance with “…you’re cleaning with a truckmount, it’s best to remove as much soil as possible before initiating any wetting process, dry soil moves much more easily than mud!” This also seems to reflect the S001 standard except it lacks the “even if” making you think you could get away without this part of the standard.

Mr. Wittkamp returns by saying, “the equipment used for pre-vacuuming should be more effective than a household vacuum for best results. More than 80% of soil in the average carpet can be removed dry!” No standard deviation there, but the next section along with the above mentioned issues could certainly lead someone to believe it’s okay not to always hold to the IICRC standard. Mr. Wittkamp continues by writing, “However, if the truckmount will be used as the vacuum source, then be sure filters are in place to protect the blower. Dry vacuuming is an option (extra cost) in my basic cleaning package, but is included in my deluxe package.”

How do we justify these statements when the IICRC standard is always to pre-vacuum? We understand Mr. Wittkamp is clearly more knowledgeable than us. But this seems to be a clear departure from our industry standard. I’m sure his intention was not to say, “Hey guys sometimes it’s okay not to vacuum, I don’t always.” Please address our concerns and let us know what you think.

Lonnie McDonald, Integrity Carpet Cleaning Inc.Grandview, Mo.

Bob Wittkamp responds: Mr. McDonald, thank you for taking the time to read my article in the August issue. Based upon your letter, I would say you read with a great deal of comprehension. You are correct in your statement that IICRC CCT course is indeed biased toward hot water extraction. Since its introduction in the 60s, hot water extraction has become the most widely used method of carpet cleaning in the U.S. This may help explain why the emphasis of the IICRC class is on hot water extraction, and almost any instructor of this class will agree that there is not sufficient time for hands-on instruction. In a perfect world there would be.

In my opinion, dry foam cleaning using a machine with a reel type brush and built in vacuum is a very underrated system. But there is really very little information on boosting or improving your overall dry foam performance other than one or two “voices in the wilderness” in the Midwest.

Your comment that my statement about bringing in the dry vacuum system would read better if it contained the phrase “even if” is correct. That phrase is present in my original manuscript but had disappeared between electronic submission of the article and its eventual printing in the magazine. I did indeed want to say, “Even if you’re cleaning with a truck mount…” The reality of dry vacuuming is that it’s not always done. Many times, the client or customer does not want it done or will not pay for the service. I have many clients who vacuum their carpet 4-5 times per week, with traffic limited to 1 or 2 elderly folks. If they do not want to pay for dry vacuuming I do not force it on them. There are also customers, such as commercial accounts that pay for vacuuming on a daily basis and balk at paying us to do it. Again, that is their choice to make. While the IICRC standard does clearly state that carpets should be vacuumed before cleaning, the customer is the final arbiter of that issue. If they choose a “substandard procedure” that is their choice. As long as they are told that we should vacuum and they opt not to, it is an “informed decision” on their part. There will always be customers that want the basic package, as much as I would like to sell them the deluxe package. And the bottom line remains: I am running a business not a charity.

Thank you again for your comments and your careful reading of the article.

Re: August ICS (Editorial Comment)

What a beautiful editorial. It warms my heart to know Gary had so many wonderful people pulling for him to make it and he did make it in spite of his death August 25th. He made it because he left his legacy of “breathe a little love” in the hearts of all who loved and cared about him and that keeps his spirit alive! Thanks for making my night just a little bit nicer when I read this.

Cindy Graham, American Beauty Carpet Care Systems

Litchfield, Minn.

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