DEAR MIKE: The carpet in my closet has a ripple in it. Is there an easy way of fixing it or do I have to call in a pro? -- Madeline K.
DEAR MADELINE: I'll bet the bubble in your carpet looks like a speed bump on a deserted road.
You need to re-stretch the carpet. It may be that the carpet fibers have become stretched or that the tack strip is loose or damaged.
Before you stretch the carpet, check the perimeter of the closet to see that the tack strip is secured to the floor. The tack strip looks like a yardstick with sharp little nails sticking out of it at an angle. It is hammered into the subfloor so that the angled nails point toward the walls. The carpet is stretched over these nails and held in place.
If you find a tack strip that is broken or loose, you can replace it easily. Loosen the tack strip by grabbing it with pliers and rocking it. You may have to slide a screwdriver under it and pry it.
If the carpet is still attached to the strip, pull it free with some pliers, but be careful not to damage the carpet.
The tack strip comes in a uniform length, and it cuts easily since it is wood. Cut the new tack strip so the nails won't line up with the holes of the old tack strip. Since the nails that hold the tack strip to the floor are spaced evenly, you can avoid the old holes by trimming one end.
Hammer in the new tack strip, keeping a space between the strip and the wall equal to the thickness of the carpet.
Since your closet is likely a small area, you can use a tool called a knee kicker. (Larger rooms often require a carpet stretcher.)
A knee kicker has sharp tacks at the front of it that grab and pull the carpet. You can adjust the length of both the tacks and the overall length of the tool. The back of the tool has a thick pad on it so you won't hurt your knee. You lay the tool on the carpet and the tacks grab the carpet. You bump the back of the tool with your knee to keep the tacks in the carpet.
You can buy a kicker for about $90, rent one, or make your own. To make one, cut two lengths from a 2X4, each 16 inches long. Sandwich each length together with nails or screws so that you have a solid block of wood. Now cut two lengths of tack strip 16 inches long and nail them to the bottom of the block. Voila, instant kicker.
Don't ram your knee into the block though, unless you want to visit your doctor. Instead, grab a large mallet.
Place the kicker about 6 inches from the wall and as you hold it down smack the back of it with the mallet. This will pull the speed bump out of the carpet. After you smack the kicker, you will want to secure the carpet over the tack strip. You can do this by tapping the carpet onto the tack strip with the flat side of a hammer.
You may find that you have to stretch the carpet over the entire length of one wall to avoid creating any additional bubbles. Use the kicker along the wall and into the corners.
Use a flathead screwdriver or a putty knife to tuck the end of the carpet into the space between the tack strip and the wall. If the carpet is too long to fit, you may have to use a utility knife to cut it. Finally, use scissors to trim any fuzzies along the wall.