Strong Odor/Smell in Home

tarazona73January 15, 2012

I bought a 10 year old home that had complete new flooring and new paint. At first I thought the odor was just the off gassing on the new flooring/paint, but it has been 8 months now and the smell is just as strong. I cant quite describe the is not a wet/mold smell, not urine, not smoke. I says it is a dry/chemically smell I guess. The home is in a very dry climate with no obvious water damage. The people renting the home before we bought it were smokers, but we have been told they were mostly outside. Again, the smell does seems like smoke to me or the people I have come in to help me determine what it is.

I have had the vents and furnace professional cleaned, the carpets cleaned and added a new fresh air system to bring outdoor air in. I have had a carpet preofessional come in and look to make sure the carpet pad had been replaced. I had an smoke restoration company come in and run a ozone machine in the home for about 6 hours. I had an air blower test done on the home to make sure we didn't have any leaks in the home. I am at a loss for what this can be!

Does anyone have any suggestions? Similar experiences? I am too the point of thinking I should repaint the entire house with Kilz and then regular paint. Maybe even replacing all the carpet and vinyl floors. I am just not convinced this will help either and I am ruuning out of funds to do so. Help!

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We bought a 50's house last year that had the same problem. The previous owner painted the entire house and basement. He carpeted the second floor, the stairs as well as steps into the basement.

There was a chemically smell that caused the back of my DH's throat and eyes to burn and gave him headaches.

We tore out the carpet and left the windows open all last summer to air it out. It finally went away.

Have you checked for sewer problems? We had a new sump pump installed and our basement waterproofed. That smelled for awhile until it finished airing out.

Here are a few links that might be helpful:

Mysterious odor! Can a new roof installation make your house stink

Building Odor Guide: How to Find, Test, & Remove Odors, Odor Detection and Methods to Remove Smells, & Gases in Buildings

An architect with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity writes about healthy houses

What Are the Dangers of Breathing Sewer Gas?

The Invisible Epidemic Causing Headaches, Fatigue and Depression

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 1:52PM
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Has the house been through a heating season since the "new flooring and new paint"?

It can take a heating season to bake everything out.

You should try and have the smell identified, but it can often be very hard.

Some people are just more sensitive to certain smells that others do not even notice.

You should try and not use simple masking agents (AKA 'room freshers'). They can introduce a whole new set of chemicals and smells.

The tart from cigarettes does not smell like what most people describe as 'smoke' or 'smokey,' so that still may be your source of the smell.

You could try paint a single room after washing the walls thoroughly with TSP (if you can get it in your area).
If that room no longer has the smell you know how to proceed.

Running the temperature higher can help 'bake out' any volatiles, but that means they can be in the air at a higher level till they are baked out and dissipate.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2012 at 4:29PM
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GF had house she bought to rent out. old man had lived there until he had to go in nursing home & he was a heavy smoker. We washed down walls with bleach water before we painted everything. She gutted kitchen & installed new cabinet,shower & toilet in 1 bathroom & new sink,toilet in other 1 & we got cleaning stuff from janitor supply to clean the tub. It looked like it was working out fine until we turned on the furnace 1 cold day & whole house smelled. We looked in the furnace closet & it was 1 place we had not painted or cleaned out. It was a dingy brown/tan. She spent couple of days cleaning & painting around it & still there was some odor. She put out bowls of vinegar & that helped some. She did get some renters & later sold it. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2012 at 1:55AM
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Tara, you said "I cant quite describe the is not a wet/mold smell, not urine, not smoke. I says it is a dry/chemically smell I guess."

If it smells "dry/chemically, it isn't smoke. After 8 months I doubt it is the carpet. I suspect cat pee saturated the subfloor under the new carpet and tile. I bet the smell gets worse when you have the carpet cleaned.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 4:21PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil

It's possible it's related to the paint or new carpet/pad. They've been reducing the volatile content of paints, which means the stuff that's in paint now is less volatile. Not only a different odor from paints of old, but evaporates out more slowly. Or, it could be something in the manufacture of the carpet or pad - glue, plasticizers, etc.

Do you have any spare pieces of the carpet? Put one in a sealed bag, wait a couple days, take it outside and sniff to see if it matches.

Hope you get it sorted out.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 2:12PM
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