At its best, carpeting often makes a house feel like home. With proper care, your carpet can last many years, but it will need help staying in good shape. Over time, you may notice your carpet lifting and buckling. When this happens, the solution may be to stretch your carpet to get it back into place.
Why Is My Carpet Bubbling and Buckling?
There are many reasons carpets may be bubbling, buckling, or rippling. To determine the reason for your carpet issue, you may need to do some testing.
When a carpet is installed, it must be stretched tightly and secured in place. If a carpet is not stretched tightly enough, it will not keep its form or stay in place. Improper installation could cause your carpet to buckle quickly. When your carpet is installed, ask about installation warranties, which could pay for your carpet to be fixed if improperly installed.
There could be damage to the base structure, or backing, of the carpet, which is important for keeping your carpet together. Cuts in the backing can be difficult to see through the fiber piles. Damage typically means cuts, tears, or other types of damage that cause carpet to loosen. Inspect your carpet for signs of damage by looking past the fibers. If you find a large cut, stretch your carpet as soon as possible.
Humidity and Moisture
Humidity is a common cause of carpet buckling. If high humidity is causing the carpet to buckle and swell, the carpet may go back to its normal state once the humidity level is corrected. An overly wet carpet from improper cleaning practices can also cause buckling. If the buckling is severe, it won’t correct itself, and you will need to have it stretched back into place. However, the carpet should not be stretched until the humidity levels are under control. Use a dehumidifier as a temporary fix to prevent future buckling as well as mold and other moisture-related problems. For permanent humidity control, contact your HVAC technician.
Moving Heavy Furniture
Any time you drag heavy items across your carpet, you risk pulling the carpet out of place and causing ripples. To prevent this, lift furniture when you can or place a firm surface, such as plywood, over the carpet to slide the furniture on.
Delamination is the separation of the layers of backing in a carpet. You may be able to address minor buckling due to delamination with stretching, but major delamination can require carpet replacement. Consult a professional to find out whether your carpet can be repaired.
Should I Stretch My Carpet?
If you notice your carpet buckling or rippling, contact a local carpet professional as soon as possible to help you determine the cause and remedy the situation.
If the buckling is mild and not near seams or posts, DIY stretching could be a viable option—if you have the proper tools. For a small area near a wall, a knee kicker may be sufficient, but most professionals recommend using a power stretcher. Knee kickers are a temporary solution and don’t address the larger problem. On top of that, they can be very difficult to use. While you may be able to rent carpet stretchers, the equipment available is likely not as high quality as a professional's and may cause you to feel like you need to stretch your carpet more frequently. Make sure to re-tack the carpet when you’re finished to prevent further buckling. You should only need to have your carpets stretched once in their lifetime; if you need to do it more often, it is not being done properly.
A professional has the proper tools and training to safely stretch your carpet back into place. Simply move the furniture out of the room before they arrive, and then sit back and relax while the job gets done right. While the room is cleared out, you could take the opportunity to have professional carpet cleaning as well.