Monthly Archives: September 2023

How to safely remove old carpet

How to safely remove old carpet

Upon testing my bedroom carpet as part of a series of mold tests in my home, I found this:

I scheduled time to remove the carpet the next week.  Now, how do I do this safely?

Research revealed two extremes:

  1. removing the carpet with no breathing equipment and no dust abatement (although this guy has some great tips, I cringe at the way he’s throwing the carpet around with no dust mask)

  2. removing the carpet with breathing equipment, a zillion garbage bags and gallons of mold eliminator (this method is costly and WET!) 

I had to find a solution in the median.  Here’s what I came up with for my situation (I am moderately sensitive to mold). 

Supply list:

  • Respirator with extra set of filters

  • Heavy gloves

  • Old clothes

  • Knee pads

  • TotalClean concentrate (or several pre-mixed spray bottles)

  • Clean garden sprayer

  • Rags

  • Plastic sheeting and painters tape for taping off vents and covering heavy furniture

  • Old towels to block under door

  • Heavy duty garbage bags (also known as contractor bags)

  • Carpet knife with extra blades or utility knife with extra blades

  • Duct tape

  • Pliers for pulling carpet

  • Nail puller to remove staples in padding

  • Pry bar and hammer to remove tack strips

  • HEPA vacuum with new bag for cleanup

  • Air Angel and/or Germ Defender: helps with dust and mold mitigation

Prep, prep, prep…it’s tedious but so worth it.  

  • Move whatever furniture, clothing and decor you can easily move, into another room. I took the long-overdue opportunity to get a new mattress, so I could escort my old one to the dump!

  • Use dollies on furniture that is too heavy or large to move out of the room.

  • Turn off the HVAC and cover any ceiling, floor or wall registers with plastic sheeting and painter’s tape

  • Measure TotalClean concentrate and water into garden sprayer at 1:7 parts respectively or empty pre-mixed spray bottles into sprayer.

  • Block under door(s) with old towels so that dust doesn’t migrate through the house.

  • Open window and remove screen if you plan to toss the carpet out of the window (also block off the area below)

  • Turn on the Air Angel and/or Germ Defender to help dust particles clump together and fall to the floor; the ions also destroy mold and bacteria on contact

  • Suit up with all protective gear including your respirator!

My strategies for minimizing dust will be to dampen a section of the carpet with the sprayer; cut the carpet into a  manageable section, remove it, and do the same three steps for the carpet pad underneath.  You’ll want to make the least number of cuts, because cutting through the carpet releases a lot of dust and fibers into the air.  I realize that this method will only wet the top of the carpet and not the cut edge or bottom, but short of soaking the carpet and subfloor, I found this is the best solution.  I liked the idea of tossing the carpet out of the window on a good weather day and bagging or binning it outside so that I didn’t drag the bags through the house.  I removed the carpet, padding and staples as I went, because I had a heavy piece of furniture left in the room and did not want to move it around more than necessary.

  1. Starting in one corner, use the sprayer to dampen the carpet in a 2’x8’ section.  Cut just inside that section with the carpet knife.  

  2. Use pliers to grab the carpet in the corner and wrestle it from the tack strips. If you can’t get it out, try cutting the corner out with your knife and pulling out just the corner.

  3. Roll it up gently and dispose of it in a contractor bag (or toss it out a window!)  If bagging it, then you can use the duct tape to keep it rolled tightly.

  4. Spray the carpet pad underneath and cut it.

  5. Dispose of it in the same way.

  6. Remove staples holding the padding to the floor with the nail puller.

  7. Remove tack strips using the pry bar and hammer.  They are super-sharp!  (If you plan on replacing with new carpet and the tack strips are not rusty or damaged, you can leave them in place).  

Repeat steps 1-5 until the whole room is devoid of carpet and padding!  If you can handle more than 2x8’ of damp carpet at a time, you can  Then, use a HEPA vacuum to thoroughly vacuum the floors to remove dust.  You will want to wipe down the walls, window(s) and ceiling fan with TotalClean because dust is now everywhere.  Finally, you can remove the sheeting from your register(s) and change clothes and shower–you earned it!  It’s best to add a bit of EC3 Laundry Additive to your clothing when washing it to avoid spreading mold to any of your clean clothing. 

If you have a new floor already scheduled for installation, good for you! Make sure that the subfloor dries out completely before 48 hours have passed, and definitely before installing new flooring (use of the sprayer makes it unlikely to soak the subfloor).   If you haven’t picked out new flooring yet, you can remove/replace any nails or screws that are sticking out, use a non-toxic floor paint, and/or use an area rug to cover over any rough areas until that day comes.  Try not to wait too long, however, so that excessive wear of the subfloor doesn’t occur.  

Photo by Julie Marsh on Unsplash

You can’t have too much air circulation!

You can’t have too much air circulation!

When clients ask advice on choosing air purifiers, some of the first questions we ask are about the layout of their home and how air circulation is accomplished.  This topic is covered in our article “Which air purifier should I choose for my home?  Part 1: Airflow”.  Airflow is super-important, and if outdoor conditions like heat, cold, humidity or pollution restrict your ability to open windows for good cross-ventilation, fans are necessary to get air moving.  Moving air helps any kind of air purifier and also your home’s heating and cooling systems to work more efficiently.  We’ve put together a few visuals on how common (and not so common) fans work. 

What about Radiator Fans?  

Radiators with fans are common installations in older buildings and to be sure, they are better than not having a fan at all.  However as shown in the below diagrams, there tends to be an area in the middle of the room that doesn’t get much mixing action.

Source: Study “Influence of Sensor Position in Building Thermal Control: Development and Validation of and Adapted Zone Model

“Basket Fans”

Although you may not have heard of this description before, when seeing a basket fan you can easily understand why it’s called that:

Whether sitting on a desk, standing on a floor or hung from the ceiling, these types are generally economical and when placed near where you are sitting, seem to be efficient in moving air.  However, scientific study about their circulation effects show otherwise.  There can be large “void spaces” where virtually no air is moving.

Source: Read this before investing in basket fans for air circulation

Regular Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are great tools for getting more air circulation.  Traditional ceiling fans tend to create better air circulation in a room than regular floor-or tabletop- fans (excluding “air circulators”, which we will visit separately in this article).  The image below shows that the fan shoots air with greatest velocity down near its center, and airflow moves along floors until it reaches walls and moves upwards again.  There are entrainment zones around the fan that do not get optimal mixing, however, if the fan is sized correctly for the room (check our article on choosing a ceiling fan), it’s definitely an improvement over not having a fan at all.

Image: Study: Measurement of airflow pattern induced by ceiling fan with quad-view colour sequence particle streak velocimetry


Some big rooms can be serviced by one or more High Volume Low Speed (HVLS) fans, which turn more slowly but generate much bigger cubic foot per minute (cfm) airflows in a space (read more about HVLS fans here).  Because the airflow along the floor is much deeper with HVLS fans than with normal ceiling fans, these currents on the floor are called floor jets.  The image below also shows how such a fan can cool even more effectively when fresh air vents at the bottom of the room, and exhaust vents at the top, are opened.

Source: “Need for Ventilation

Air Circulators/Destratification Fans

“Destratification” is the gold standard of air circulation in a room, because temperatures in the top, bottom and sides of the room can show that the air is being thoroughly mixed!  Without destratification, thermal “layers” can develop, and air conditioning (including heating) as well as purifiers cannot effectively service the entire volume of air.  There are several different types of fans that can break up these thermal layers.  Airius, an Australian company, makes a different type of high volume fan that is termed “bladeless” because the blades are hidden in the body of the fan but still generate significant airflow.  Their systems are termed “airflow circulation cooling fan and destratification system” and are designed to be mounted close to the ceiling; many applications are found in convention centers, dealerships and indoor stadiums. 

Source: Airius Fans Vs. HVLS Fans

Real “bladeless” fans

For residential or commercial use, true “bladeless” ceiling fans (modeled after Nicola Tesla’s bladeless turbine) offer similar destratification to circulator fans, with less noise.  According to Exhale Fans’ fact page, “The airflow is a vortex: The airflow profile makes the real difference in how you feel while in your space. Air exits the Exhale Fan in all directions 360° horizontally and at a 45° angle. This unique airflow starts a gentle rotation of the air much like a vortex. The vortex airflow profile generated by the Exhale Fan is unmatched in the ceiling fan industry. Air is not simply directed straight down but moves around the room in a pleasant cyclonic flow. What we have created is a destratified environment where floor to ceiling, wall to wall, you have a temperature balanced and comfortable space.”  The video of an Exhale Fan working in water to lift and circulate particles off the floor of the water tank is impressive!

Source: How does it work?

An “air circulator” like the Vornado ($92) is purported to have a similar pattern to ceiling and HVLS fans, however it shoots air across a room.  Here is a video comparing Vornado, Dyson and generic tabletop fan.  The reviewer (Filipino) and commenters mostly prefer the Vornado for power and value.  Another great air circulator option is the Dreo ($99); this video comparing Vornado and Dreo declares Dreo the winner, although it's virtually the same price as the Vornado.  The Dreo uses a brushless DC motor so it has more range of speeds, and uses less power than the Vornado, which uses an AC induction motor.  Dreo is also quieter across the range, even at the highest setting.  There are more economical versions of each brand that incorporate less technology but move the same amount of air.

Source: Vornado 293HD literature

Although the Dyson bladeless fans claim to be “air multipliers” because more air is entrained than is taken in through the pedestal of the fan, they lack the power to destratify and circulate air in a whole room.

Source: How does the Dyson Air Multiplier Work?

Now that you know which types of fans help to truly get all of the air in the room moving, you can decide how and where to use/place them.  Perhaps you’ve never turned on your ceiling fans…now is the time to clean them and get them running!  Considering that the purpose of an air purifier with HEPA is to filter all the air within a room, the fan used in the purifier or a separate fan paired with it is very important to the purification function. It should either have a high Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), or be used with a separate fan that is able to destratify the room.  

In this test, a 705 cubic foot space (approximately 9x10 foot room with 8 foot ceiling) was filled with incense smoke and different purifiers were operated to clear all traces of PM1.0ug/m3, PM2.5ug/m3 and PM10.0 ug/m3 particulate matter.  Although the location of the particulate measurement devices were not disclosed (how close to the purifier they were), the purifier with the highest CADR proved to be the fastest to clear the air (BlueAir Pure Fan Auto, in only 27 minutes); the other two purifiers tested took 1 hour 24 minutes and 2 hours 11 minutes!   However, it’s possible to pair a purifier with lower CADR with a ceiling fan or circulator or destratifier fan to improve performance..

In conclusion, the best way to purify air with a HEPA filter is to use a purifier with a high CADR, or to use the purifier in conjunction with a fan that improves whole-room circulation (and thus destratification).  In addition, we’ve always stated that the Germ Defender/Mold Guard and Air Angel units work differently from HEPA, because they send out ions into the room instead of pulling all the air through the device to filter it.  However, their function also improves when coupled with an air circulator, in order to deliver the ions more widely and evenly throughout the space.

Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash