You’ve been searching for the perfect home with in your price range and you walk into one where the home smells. What should you do?
Perhaps you’re considering purchasing a home with unpleasant home smells or currently own one. Most likely you got a great deal in hopes that you could soon get rid of the smell. Perhaps you’re like me and have scoured the internet for product reviews and ideas to try to eradicate that offensive odor while spending as little as possible.
With some determination and cleaning, the offensive home smells can be removed from your home for good without breaking the bank. I’d like to share my story with you and what I found to be effective.
We purchased our fixer upper a few years ago. When viewing our home, the odor from cigarette smoke and animal urine was so strong I couldn’t stand to be in our upstairs for more than 5 minutes. I hoped that over time we could get rid of the home smells and have a pleasant/normal smelling home. It has been a two year journey for us to get rid of all the odors, but much of the time has been spent trying a variety of products.
When we first bought the house we pulled up the carpets as they were very stained and soaked from the animals. That helped a fair amount. Then we treated the sub floors with an animal urine neutralizer product we found online. We mixed the product with water in a outdoor weed spray pump and saturated the sub floors and let them air dry. That seemed to remove much of the animal urine smell. We then painted the sub floor in the hallway, living room, and kitchen with regular paint. Looking back it probably would have been more effective to use a product such as Kilz or Bin to better seal out the odor but at the time we were hesitant to spend more on this type of paint. I’ve heard that others have used bleach with some success in treating saturated sub floors. I noticed that in one of the bedroom sub floors that a yellowish substance was seeping out of the Kilz paint so perhaps the floors should have had an old towel absorb additional liquid before cleaning and painting. We sealed the bedroom/bathroom sub. floors with Kilz. We then laid the new carpet over the top.
Our kitchen floor was covered in two layers of linoleum. We cleaned the floors with a mixture of vinegar and washing soda to remove the smoke odor. Looking back I probably would have removed the old linoleum before laying the new flooring over the top. Until recently, the old sub flooring in the kitchen/living room seemed to be holding in a faint cigarette smoke odor. I particularly noticed it on humid days. I was hesitant to remove the new floor to try and clean/paint underneath again so I decided to try something else. Hypothesizing that the smoke was being held in the sub. floors, I placed several bowls of clear ammonia in our unfinished basement. The ammonia has done a nice job of absorbing the odors and/or potentially evaporating into the sub floors to neutralize the smoke odor. When entering the house, I no longer notice the smell smoke, a welcome relief.
As an aside, most every surface of the house (walls, ceilings, cabinets, closets) will need to be cleaned with a solution of water, clear ammonia, washing soda and vinegar to get out the smoke smell. Try mixing up one gallon of warm water, one half cup of ammonia, one quarter cup of vinegar, and one quarter cup of washing soda. When washing some of our walls, I noticed a rust color in the water, most likely the tar. My clue that the walls were holding back some of the tar still was that when using a humidifier the walls would run with a yellowish sticky substance. Somehow the chemical property of the ammonia seems to break down the tar/nicotine. It’s advised to wear a mask when cleaning with ammonia as it gives off a strong smell, and keep out of reach of children as it is toxic if ingested.
Despite covering our closets in Kilz paint, I still noticed a lingering smoke odor in my clothes. I put small bowls of ammonia in each closet and that has seemed to absorb the odor for good. I typically have disposed of the bowls of ammonia in a few days.
Boiling vinegar or leaving small bowls of vinegar around the house can be effective as well depending on how strong the smell is. Additionally, you’ll want to clean the furnace duct work, any curtains, windows, light fixtures, ceiling fans, etc.
A fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceiling once you’ve cleaned all of the surfaces and fresh air with the windows open goes a long way in getting rid of home smells.
Every home purchase has negatives and positives and you should be cautions about making a purchase where the home smells it can be an indication of problems such as mold and other problems. But the good thing if a home sale is for the right price bad home smells can be eliminated.
If you are thinking of buying a place where the home smells in Maine and NH make sure to find a qualified home inspector
If you have any further questions feel free to contact
WatchDog Inspectors, Rochester NH 03868 Serving Maine and NH