Commercial Cash Flow investigated “What’s Left Behind” in the September 2015 issue of Cleanfax, performing an experiment on drying habits of encapsulation products. This month we take a look at an amateur attempt to answer the question that naturally follows: “Does it come out?”
In the previous article, we took 8 ounces each of 20 leading encapsulation products and poured them into 10.5 inch plates. After they were dry, we made amateur observations and saw various outcomes.
Some products dried hard and could easily be brushed off the plates; others were stuck to the plates. While some of the stuck-on encaps were hard or even brittle, others were stuck-on and gooey, an outcome we hadn’t anticipated or hoped for from any encap. In this article, we take a step further, attempting to demonstrate just how well this same group of encaps might vacuum out of carpet.
Our $135 budget bought a scale and microscope for the experiment, but we required some help from others. A leading commercial carpet mill sent three 6.0 nylon fiber spool ends. The scale was the key to the test. We set it at grams and shot for 7 grams per fiber sample, as we were amazed at just how much 7 grams is (about .35 ounce).
The fiber piles were weighed while dry, prior to contact with the encapsulation solutions.
We conducted the test with the encapsulation products mixed at 50 percent water to 50 percent encap. Fiber piles were dipped in each of the encaps and labeled by product.
The fibers were laid out on a drying rack to allow airflow. When dry, the fibers were weighed again.
As expected, the encap-coated fibers came out stiff, stiff enough to stand up piles on their sides (left) unlike uncoated fibers (right).
The first procedure we performed on the dried fibers was simply “slamming” the fiber onto a black table to see how much encap could be removed this way.
The results of this effort varied by product, but it proved very easy to see if an encap was loose enough for removal.
For the second procedure, we used an air compressor with 120 psi of compressed air to attempt blowing the encapsulation products off the coated fibers. Finally we weighted the fibers a third time to check the weight change, thus revealing how much encap was actually removed for each product.
Of those tested, the best result was a 60-percent removal of encap product from the fiber. For this result, the fiber started out at 6.99 g, when originally weighed dry, and its weight went up to 8.11 when coated in encapsulation solution. After the air compressor was used on this fiber sample, the final weight was 7.43 g.
Ten of the encaps either did not come out at all or the amount removed was negligible. The encapsulation products that did not come out did, in fact, line up with the results of the plate test from the September article. Those that dried sticky during the plate test did not come loose from the fiber in this experiment. Those that dried hard but stuck to the plate had mixed results in the fiber test. Some of these produced very good results, while for others in the same category, the encap did not come off at all.
The results of the experiment yielded several surprises: 1. Looking at encap on fiber under a microscope gives no indication how easily it will remove from fiber.
2. When looking at broken-off encap under a microscope after it was dislodged from fiber, the encap showed sharp edges, possibly leading to its inability to be set free from fibers. 3. Many of the encapsulation products came off so fine that we had to put on face masks when blowing it or slamming it on the table, which brings into question whether encaps can become airborne.
Most of the results were as expected based on the results from the September experiment. This second test was set to see which products came out, and we believe that mission achieved.
It is now up to the carpet mills, the Carpet and Rug Institute and product manufacturers to decide what properties are best when designing encaps and their uses. After this experiment, there is no doubt that some encaps will never vacuum off, and most encaps will fall to the bottom of carpet when hit with the beater bar of a vacuum because the encap is especially small and light.
Fred Geyen is president of the Geyen Group (www.GeyenGroup.com). His background includes commercial product sales and program development for residential, commercial and disaster restoration with ServiceMaster. He has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED-AP) designation and is on the board of directors with the LMCCA. Geyen can be contacted at (612) 799-5111.