cigarette smoke question

Kar4119October 7, 2005

I have plans to move into a new apartment (have to tell them yes or no on Monday) and just learned that the people above me smoke cigarettes. I'm on the second floor with one other apartment and their apartment takes up the entire third floor (it's a converted house). I have health issues and can't stand the smell of smoke. I'm wondering if I should find another place or if I can assume that the smoke will go upwards since they are higher than me? Anyone have any thoughts? I haven't moved in yet and can still get my security deposit back easily. thanks.

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If it is a converted house smoke will probably show up in your apartment. First because most houses are built with plaster, or wallboard walls. At the bottom is some kind of molding to cover the crack between the floor and the wall. That molding is never airtight. It is just nailed down with finishing nails. As the wood ages, it tends warp and shrink making openings to the inside of the walls that you can't tell with your eyes. Smoke oozes into the openings, into the walls, and there is often as not some openings between the floors inside the walls. Smoke always finds it's way.

If the house has forced air heat that is the second way of smoke entry. If you share the furnace then their air, and your air are mixed. If you have separate forced air furnaces in the same basement, as I had, when the furnace kicks in, it always draws some cold air from the shared basement. Everytime our furnace ran we got smoke blown in. I have also had a furnace cold air return draw air under the front door from the lobby every time it kicked in. You could feel it rush in when the furnace ran.

Last beware of old laundry chutes, old fashioned bathroom vents, and the holes in the wall where your bathroom pipes come thru. Builders put upstairs bathroom above a downstairs bathroom or kitchen to economize water piping; often the hole where the pipes go in the wall is not well sealed. Even if you caulk around your pipes, if your neighbor does not, his smoke will go into the walls and find its way thru some pin hole elsewhere . Some older houses also had wierd bathroom vents that didn't use fans, but vented by drafting up thru a shared exhaust pipe. I had that and more than smoke came down that vent, especially on windy days. Smoke is like pouring some perfume in a dish, it goes up, down and fills all air it reaches.

By the way smoke is not the only problem. If you have a potpourri or scented candle lover these scents are pervasive too.

The best bet for smoke free living are those modern apartments built like parking structures with poured concrete floors on each level, and good brick or concrete firewalls between each unit. I lived in a steel frame brick apartment with radiator heat from the 20's that had once been a luxury hotel. Not a bit of smoke came in. I have also lived in a modern concrete monster where each unit had an electric furnace in the unit and that was smoke free too.

Best wishes.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2005 at 11:28AM
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The people above me used to smoke out their sliding glass door on their deck and it would blow right into my apt. You will most likely get a little bit of it at least, so if it is that bothersome, you might want to look for another place.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 2:09PM
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find another place.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2005 at 11:34AM
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Find another place, dodge the bullet while you can. At least you were warned about the smoker before!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 7:03PM
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If you're going to stay, I'd suggest professional carpet cleaners! In college my husband cleaned at a motel and the product they used and it worked (according to my husband) REALLY well is Spartan Airlift Smoke & Odor Eliminator. I just asked my husband where they bought it and he didn't know. I was curious and found it on the web if you're interested I'll include the link.

Good luck!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Spartan Airlift Smoke & Odor Eliminator

    Bookmark   December 1, 2005 at 6:39PM
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Found this one as well if you're still looking for something. This is probably a little less industrial.

Have you found a solution yet?

Here is a link that might be useful: SC Johnson Good Sense Aerosol Air Freshener - No Smoke

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 6:39PM
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If you know it already and you know it will bother you, DO NOT MOVE THERE. The solution is simple. just dont do it and get yourself annoyed.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2005 at 3:30PM
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I'll second the Good Sense No Smoke recommendation! It's designed just for smoky environments.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 11:10PM
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Hello - thanks so much for all of your suggestions and input. You have not only been truly helpful with the specific problem, but also helped me feel less alone. I get really upset when I can't be comfortable in my own home! It just puts me in a tizzy.

Here's a question and an update on what has worked in case it's helpful to anyone else:

Question: One of you mentioned "Good Sense No Smoke" is this a product? I searched and couldn't find it on the web.


I did move in and had horrible sinus/allergy issues. Still do on some days. However, I love the apt and honestly can't even imagine moving again out of sheer overwhelm/energy/money issues. So, here's what has helped - not always, but much of the time:

- air cleaner machine in each room with hepa filter AND carbon filter (let me know if anyone wants the brands -- some are better than others as many of you know. My cat has the sneezes too when I turn off the air filters so they must work somehow!

- sealing floor board cracks and around/under pipes between apts

- putting sheet metal behind the radiators with duct tape. The bathroom wall tiles were actually missing behind the radiator in the bathroom so there was a HUGE space behind it going directly to the outside all of the house! Who knows what kind of scents/smoke I was getting from all apts!

- turns out i'm really allergic to dust as well (went to the doc after having problems). So, looked all over the apt and ciscovered mounds of brown and black dust (among other things!) in and behind the radiators. I got them cleaned and it seems to have helped, although it took three cleanings to remove the yucky dust/dirt.

- I know this isn't a health forum but I also started taking a chinese herbal forumal from my acupuncturist called Pe Min Kan Wan (much gentle for the system than any western sinus pills) and it has really helped

- Take showers twice a day on bad days (really helps with sinus inflamation) when neighors visitors smoke in hallways on their way out despite the no smoke in hall way rule

The closets still smell like smoke wheni open them, so that's my next sealing job.

Well, thanks again, Karen

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 9:28AM
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Karen, I'd be interested in the brands of air purifiers you've tried. My downstairs neighbor smokes, and I've done a bunch of things to try to seal up, but am looking into an air purifier as well. Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 6:41PM
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Plangal, let me know how the air purifier goes if you get one. I've always been a little skeptical of them, but if they work then I'd LOVE to have one for our office.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 3:23PM
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Why the heck did you move there to begin with? You knew people smoked there, so stop whining. Everyone, and that includes smokers, deserve SOME rights.

By the way, I'm not a smoker, but I do defend a person's right to do what they want in their own personal space.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 10:25PM
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