The other day I referred to the fact that we’ve already had to replace our carpet–well, here’s the entire story. Read it and be warned. 🙂
About four months after we moved into our new house, I began to notice a faint black line that appeared all along the edges of the carpet–where the carpet met the wall. I didn’t know if it was dust or what, and then I moved my sofa (which had been in the middle of the great room) and discovered the black line on the carpet, perfectly outlining the sofa!
I was convinced the air conditioner was throwing off soot. For one thing, the black/gray mess was always most obvious right in front of the air vents in the ceiling.
So I called the builder, who sent over a technician, who checked out the AC units and told me they were perfect. So he called his supervisor, who came to my house, listened to my description of the problem, and then asked a simple question: “Do you burn candles?”
“Just one,” I answered. “I burn one scented candle all the time, on account of the dogs.”
“That’s your problem,” he said. “It’s candle soot.”
I told him that was crazy. For one thing, I always burned the candle in the kitchen and this black stuff was everywhere, even upstairs. He said it didn’t matter–the soot particles get caught up in the air conditioning unit, which spews them all over the house through the venting system.
My neighbor, who was an anestheologist, pointed out that we were BREATHING in all the smoke . . . so soot was undoubtedly speckling our lungs.
So I went to the Internet and discovered several web pages about the problem, including this one:
After being horrified by the truth, I went on a soot hunt . . . and found it EVERYWHERE. Soot is attracted to plastic, so I found soot :
in my computer case
on/around every light switch plate
outlining every picture on the wall
in the medicine cabinets (lots there!)
in the refrigerator and freezer
on the carpet in every room
Soot is not easy to clean. It’s greasy, so you almost need a degreaser to get it off. I did manage to scrub it off the walls, etc., but the carpet was hopeless. Fortunately, our insurance company (State Farm, God bless ’em), paid for the damage and gave us a check for new carpeting–I replaced the beige with a deep cranberry, not caring if it was in style or out. I wanted dark colors!
That was five years ago, but even today I’ll move a picture or a piece of furniture and find traces of soot on the wall behind. I’d always burned candles in my old house, but it was so “open” and breezy that we never noticed any buildup. Newer houses are more tightly constructed, and the soot gets redistributed.
I know some candles say they don’t give off soot, but the experience rattled me so deeply that we don’t do candles in our house any more. I still keep air fresheners going–I still have my big dogs, you see–but not candles.
And that is the story of the candles and the carpet. 🙂