Getting Rid of House Odors

Tips by Real-Estate-Agents.com

When the weather turns colder, people keep their doors and windows closed and many homes develop a "shut-in" smell. The lack of fresh air going through the house allows odors from different sources to become more noticeable. Many things cause odors, so there are several ways to solve odor problems. Luckily, this also is also the best time of year to attack house odors at their sources and get rid of them once and for all.

Q: I am in the real estate business and find that some houses have heavy odors from pet odors, while others retain cooking odors. Repainting and cleaning carpets can get expensive and sometimes that doesn't even work. Is there any more cost-effective, efficient way to get rid of odors?

A: This is a real problem in the real estate business; first impressions are a key factor when it comes to buying a home. People buy homes with their emotions, they want a warm and fuzzy feeling when they walk into a house. But if the house has an objectionable odor, nine out of 10 times it will kill a sale before they even look at the features. The brain automatically connects the house with the foul odor and they will have a negative memory every time they think of the house, even if they don't consciously remember the smell.

The way to eliminate smoke or cooking odors (such as curry) is with an ozone generator. It produces a gas that changes the structure of the odor molecule. As it changes the molecular composition, it neutralizes the smell to a completely odorless state. It's amazing how such a little machine can solve such a big problem.

Q: I moved into a home with a heavy, oily curry smell. I have painted the walls and washed the cupboards, what else can I do?

A: If the drapes and blinds haven't been cleaned yet, start there. If that doesn't do the trick, we recommend you look into having it thermo-fogged. Because latex paint is porous, it allows air and odors to pass through it. Some odor fighters use thermo-fog deodorizing smoke to penetrate through latex paint, cabinets and even your heat and air conditioning system to permanently eliminate odors. This is also effective in treating odors caused by tobacco smoke, some mold and mildew problems and even moth ball odors which linger in older homes. Often it is necessary to follow this procedure with a thorough professional carpet cleaning to remove "locked-in" odors sealed in by dirt and debris.

Q: One night while I was cooking something on the stove, I fell asleep on the couch. My smoke alarm and a billowing cloud of smoke awakened me. I was able to put out the fire but it's been three weeks now and I still have a horrible burned smell in my house. Is there anything you can do to help?

A: Smoke odors from kitchen fires are relatively common, but they can be tricky to get rid of. A process called thermo fogging usually solves most types of heavy smoke odors. In this process professionals recreate the same atmosphere that existed at the time of the fire, making a special deodorizing smoke that will get into all the small nooks and crannies that the original, foul-smelling smoke penetrated. This very effective method should be done by a certified odor damage specialist.

Q: I have a musty smell in one of my bedrooms that I can't seem to get rid of. How do I go about removing it?

A: If you have a musty smell, you likely have an area of microbiological growth (mold or mildew). The odor comes from gasses being emitted from these microorganisms. There are five conditions that contribute to microbiological growth:

  1. An organic food source: drywall, wood, paper, natural fibers, soils.
  2. Wet materials or environments where the relative humidity exceeds 60 percent.
  3. Wet or humid areas where the temperature ranges between 68-86 degrees F (although microorganisms can occur at any temperature, they thrive in this range).
  4. Areas of little or no air movement (airflow is limited in wall cavities, beneath wall and floor coverings and inside unvented structures).
  5. Dimly lit or dark conditions (microorganisms are usually inhibited by sunlight).

The best way to treat this condition is to use a moisture sensor to locate any unusual moisture, then spray an anti-microbial to control or stop the growth of microorganisms.

by Kathy Maynard, reprinted courtesy of Service Magic

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