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Flooring and Carpeting/Carpet New Install Crackling Noise

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Question
Hi.  We just got a mid-high quality carpet installed in our living room (better quality) and bedrooms (not same quality); every room with 1/2 in Scotchgard pad, which feels nice and cushy.  The installers took their time and apparently did a good job.  However, we noticed that in the bedrooms (not in the living room), when we step on the first foot of carpet (as it transitions from the tiled area) it makes a crackling noise, like the sound of stepping on plastic.  It is more prominent in some rooms than others, but noticeable in all three bedrooms and respective closets.  The rest of the carpeted area does not have that noise.  Is that normal, will it lessen over time, or could there be a problem with the installation or product?  Thanks for your reply.

Answer
    That you are experiencing the crackling noise under one grade of carpet and not the other while both are installed over the same pad would tend to rule out the pad as the cause. In addition, I believe the Scotchgard pad is a densified urethane which would not be prone to that kind of sound, as opposed to a rebond pad which is made of recycled pad pieces, the latter of which can give off a crackling type sound sometimes. The other component to the Scotchgard pad is the moisture barrier and I do not think that would cause a crackling sound unless it has delaminated from the pad. So that would leave the carpet, or more particularly the carpet backing. I have seen some carpet backings that can temporarily give off a sound like the rustling of a plastic bag until they are broken in but if you are not having the crackling sound all over it should be investigated further.
    Carpet backing is commonly made of two parts glued together with a latex adhesive. There is the primary backing, which can be seen when you part the tufts and look down into the carpet and the secondary which is what you see when you turn the carpet over. The latex may be old and dry, or the secondary back could be old/dry and that condition can be sporatic especially when it comes to latex. Either can cause crackling under foot pressure. This could be problematic because the latex is what keeps the tufts (carpet pile) in place. Bad latex can lead to tuft loss. Bad backing can cause delamination and ripples in the carpet.
    Bottom line: The dealer should be notified and the carpet should be disengaged in the area of crackling to check and see if the latex/secondary is crumbling/dried out and at the same time check the pad to make sure it is not delaminating. Other possibilities off the top of my head would be something foreign that was left under the pad/carpet, loose/cracked floor boards/subfloor but those are things you should have noted before the new carpet was installed.
Hope this helps!

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R Adams

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Certified Installer 1966-1976, Certified Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985, Certified Commercial and Residential Floor Inspector since 1985 is available to answer questions on problems with carpet or other flooring, and carpet cleaning. I can guide you as to whether you may have a valid claim against a manufacturer/installer/dealer/cleaning company.

Experience

Floor covering Installer 1966-1976 Carpet Cleaning Instructor 1976-1985 Floor Covering Inspector 1985- present

Organizations
Floor Covering Inspector Training School; FCITS Floor Covering Inspection Technical Services; FITS Certified Claims Inspectors Association; CCIA

Publications
Hartford Courant

Education/Credentials
B.S. Chemistry 1971 A.S. Physical Science 1969 Armstrong Certified Installer 1972 3M Certified Carpet Cleaning Specialist 1976 FCITS Certified in Carpet and Hard Surface, Commercial and Residential

Past/Present Clients
GE, Phoenix Insurance Group, McDonalds Corp, WTNH, US NAVY, Xerox, Time Warner, Pitney Bowes, Conair, Yale New Haven Hospital, UCONN, Price Waterhouse, Pepsico.

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