Buying a Carpet Extractor

If you're researching carpet extractors, you probably have a good idea about what they can do: suck up excess water in waterlogged areas like spas and carpeted pool decks, flush out dirt and grime from deep down in your carpets and upholstery, and with the right attachments – clean hard wood floors and make short work of detailing your car or sanitizing kitchen and bathroom surfaces. Carpet extractors range in price from under $100 to well over $1000, so it's a good idea to get some advice before buying.

Professional Results

Manufacturers recommend deep cleaning every 12-18 months, but most people wait quite a bit longer, so professionals need cleaners that will work especially hard. They're machines need to be super powerful since they may be asked to clean up years of built-up dirt, grime and bacteria. Once you've purchased your own extractor, the best way to ensure professional results are a) clean often to avoid buildup and b) get the best machine for your needs. Below are several issues that you should consider before making a decision.

First Things First

•Water extractors don't only extract (remove) water, they also expel water. If your carpet gets too wet, drying becomes a critical issue. So look for a machine that specifies 'low moisture design.'

•If you can't move your extractor around comfortably from room to room – or during the cleaning process – you're not going to use it. Portability should be one of your main concerns.

Size Matters

Carpet extraction machines used by carpet cleaning services and water damage specialists are usually so huge they need to be permanently installed in trucks or vans. DIY carpet extractors come in a range of sizes. Two features that affect the size of the machine are portability and tank specifications. If your space requires porting the machine over several levels or many rooms, weight becomes a critical factor. Larger machines accommodate sizeable, weightier tanks (one for water or cleaning solution and one for water recovery) for optimized use in more generously proportioned spaces. If the machine you're considering is large, ask if it has a self-propelled motor, which will counter weight issues by making it easier to handle during cleaning.

Are You Ready to Go Tankless?

It might appear that tanks are an integral part of a carpet steamer. In fact, there are some models that hook up to a water source (like a regular bathroom or kitchen tap) and drain via long hoses. These machines, obviously lighter without reservoir and recovery tanks, are easy to port between rooms as long as the water source/drain are accessible. Choose a model with an adequate mechanism for heating the water to higher temperatures than tap water and enough suction power to get the job done.

Some Like it Hot

Actually, all carpet extractors like it hot. That's the whole point. If you're considering a carpet extractor that requires you to pre-boil and load hot water into the reservoir, keep looking. A machine with a well-functioning, built-in heating element will not only heat water more quickly for more effective dirt removal, it will also dry your floors more quickly. A model with a heat booster will give you more control when facing difficult stains.

To Brush or Not to Brush…

Some extractors include brushes to aid in loosening dirt and removing stains. However, a word to the wise: if you brush a delicate fabric too briskly and you risk damaging it; brush a heavier fiber, such as a plush carpet, too slowly and your cleaning efforts may actually make matters worse. Insist on variable speed brushes that you can adjust for any job.

Ask Questions

Don't be embarrassed to use your new knowledge about carpet extractors when shopping for one. Ask questions – and if you don't understand the answer – ask again.


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