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Few features to look for when choosing a portable extractor:
  • PSI - There are extractors that go from 50 psi - 1200 psi. If you plan to do mostly residential homes and upholstery having a machine that does is between 50-250 psi is usually sufficient. Too much pressure and you'll get the common compliant that you're leaving the carpet to wet buy homeowners. When cleaning upholstery typically you'll only be at 50 psi and for most residential carpets you'll be either at 100 or 200 psi. If you plan on doing a lot of tile and grout you'll want high pressure of 1200.
  • Heat vs. No Heat - Hot water does assist in the cleaning process. It will help in breaking down the oil and debris in the carpet. Soil in the fibers typically will extract easily with no heat, though the oil in the fibers of a carpet are more easily extracted with heat. Heat will speed up the process, though with no heat agitating the carpet before will assist or a higher PSI will also assist in extracting without heat. The labor cost if running crews is much lower using heat than using only a cold extractor. Another option is pouring hot water in the extractor and pre-spraying before hand. The downside to heat is you'll be using more electricity and risk tripping the breaker with some machines.
  • Tank Size - The bigger the tank the less stopping to refill when cleaning. If you're going to be doing a lot of automobiles and upholstery a 3-6 gallon should be ok, though if you're doing a lot of rooms you'll want a larger tank.
  • Weight & Size - Remember you'll need to load the machine in a truck or van. Some machines are terribly heavy, while others aren't.
  • CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) - This is the air flow which will assist in the drying time for the carpets
  • H20 Lift - This is how much the lift is for pulling back up the water that's been released into the carpet. The more you lift the dryer you'll leave the carpet. A good balance between lift and CFM tends to be better.
  • Look for attachments you'll need. Most portable carpet extractors aren't sold as packages so you'll want to make sure to purchase the vacuum & solution hose, wands, upholstery tool and crevice if needed. Packages are put together occasionally so make sure to check.