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Faded Carpet Color Is Repairable!

Almost every carpet or any textile will lighten in color or fade over a period of time. The extent of damage depends on a number of factors; color, type of dye, dye method, the location, exposure, intensity of light, and other factors. A solution-dyed fiber is least susceptible to sun fading. The pigment colors are added to the polymer while in its liquid state before forming the fibers, locking in the color. Olefins, many acrylics, some nylons and polyester carpets are dyed by this method.

Color Loss From Sun Fading
A major malady of carpet color is light fading. It can be caused by sunlight, lighting for plants, or other sources. Remedial results are usually excellent. In these photos, notice the sunfading around where the stereo sat. After redyeing, the carpet looked almost new.
( Click on images for larger photos )

Only One Carpet Cleaning May Fade Your Carpet!

Faded from one cleaning?
Click on image for larger
(Used by permission.© Thomco).
Left is a carpet mill inspection photo of a closet carpet scrap lying on a five year old basement carpet that shows severe fading. This basement level had no windows that would allow direct sunlight to the carpet. Nor were there any ozone or fume-fade sources of the required damaging magnitude present.
The unfaded area of the carpet was a dramaic contrast to the faded area. The appearance was very similar to that of a sun faded carpet which has been exposed to at least five years of direct full sunlight. The defect claim presented to Mohawk was rejected and considered not related to any possible manufacturing defect.

The only feasible explanation for the color damage was being a result of the chlorine bleach prespray used by the carpet cleaners. A mat under the furniture had evidentially protected the underlying carpet fibers from the hypochlorous acid (HOCl) prespray leaving a silhouette. This chemical is being used increasingly under the banner of green cleaning with a "without toxic chemicals" claim.

Hypochlorous acid is a known strong chlorine bleaching agent notorious for causing dye and fiber damage to unprotected textiles; especially to natural fibers such as cotton and wool. Strong and/or repeated exposure can eventually lead to total fiber degradation. It should never be used as an application for any type of textile!

Combined with direct sunlight, hypochlorous acid (or ANY bleaching agent for that matter) has a stronger synegetic, photochemical distructive action over a much shorter time frame. But yet, this acid bleach is commonly used by some carpet cleaners today. The resulting damage to the fiber's construction is accumulative and permanent! Color damage is usually repairable, but fiber damage is a different issue. It is non-reversable and non-repairable. So much for the claims of "cleaning magic" from this type of "green cleaning"!

These photos are of a confirmed case of chemical bleaching of a carpet's color from hypochlorous acid prespray. This was a result of leakage from the carpet cleaner's portable sprayer tank that was set on the living room carpet and destroyed the carpet's color. The commissioned color repair was a success and satisfactory to the home owner.
( Click on images for larger photos )

What is Fading?

Fading is a change in color over time. It is measured by evaluating the color of a material at two or more points in time. Often it is the loss of color or a reduction in color saturation due to bleaching. Fading of color is a dilemma common to all industries. The plain truth is all color fades. Additional material damage due to solar exposure, such as embrittlement and cracking (known as "sun rot") can also occur.

Causes of Fading

Darker shades of color will usually be more susceptible to fading than lighter. These will absorb more solar energy and reflect less. Primarily, it is the breakdown of the dyes due to their inability to dissipate absorbed energy that ultimately causes fading.

Major Causes Of Fading
Causes of Fading
Ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun accounts for approximately 40% of the fading process. Visible light and solar heat each contribute approximately 25% and 10% can be attributed to miscellaneous effects such as indoor artificial lighting, humidity, gassing, heat and poor dye affinity.

Another main and increasing cause of fading is chemical, where chemical changes in the coloring agents of a material can cause a change – or reduction/oxidation (bleaching) – in color. This is an increasing problem, now that some carpet cleaners are using bleaching compounds in their general cleaning process. They appear to be unaware of the extensive damage that these strong chemicals cause, which historically in textiles have only been used in isolated controlled bleaching and spotting situations.

In addition, wear or abrasion can physically remove coloring agents from a material's surface. This can be observed in traffic lanes of hallway carpet where there appears to be a yellowing of color. This is mainly a dye loss; especially where the yellowing has little if any response to repeated professional cleanings. This problem is corrected by redyeing the affected areas with the missing colors.

Solar Radiation

The sun's energy is made up of three main components: ultraviolet radiation, visible radiation, and near-infrared radiation. What distinguishes these from one another is their wavelengths, commonly measured in nanometers (nm). A nanometer is 1/1000 of a micron (micrometer). A human hair is over 100,000 nanometers thick.

Ultraviolet radiation is invisible to the human eye and has the shortest wavelengths of the three types mentioned, from 300 to about 380 nm. Visible light covers the approximate range from 380 to 780 nm, while the near infrared radiation (sometimes called invisible solar heat) has the longest wavelengths, from 780 to 4045 nm.

Ultraviolet radiation (UV) is the single largest contributing factor in fading of fabrics, carpets and other furnishings. Although visible light, electric lighting, heating, humidity, age of fabrics and fabric dyes all play a part in the process. UV radiation is attributed to 40% of the damage. Protecting against UV is not just important in hot, sunny climates; but even in cold, cloudy climates, UV radiation can damage furnishings.

Exposure of wool keratins to sunlight is well known to cause yellowing, bleaching, and main-chain scission of the proteins. Visible radiation in sunlight causes photobleaching of wool while the UV wavelength causes photoyellowing. The most effective yellowing wavelengths are in the UV-A region (340-420 nm).

In general, the greatest threat for carpet fading is from windows and glass doors facing the southwest. However, carpet that is exposed to direct un-filtered sunlight from any direction can develop noticeable fading in as little as six months. If fading occurs in carpeted areas subjected to un-filtered sunlight, it is not an indicator that a carpet has inadequate lightfastness properties. All carpet warrenties specifically exclude color fading as a manufacturing defect for this very reason.

Effect of UV Radiation on Plastics

UV radiation absorbed by plastics often produce free radicals. While some plastics cannot absorb this energy, impurities within their matrix often can, which may lead to degradation. Only small amounts of impurities are needed for damage to occur. In the presence of oxygen the free radicals form peroxides which attack the hosting framework. This process is often called photo-oxidation. As an example, a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) window frame exposed to sunlight undergoes discoloration, chalking, and a loss of impact and tensile strength. Most if not all synthetic textiles can experience similar degrading.

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