Smoke Smell

18 Replies

I'm looking at a property now and there is a terrible smoke smell. The bigger problem I see is they've just repainted which in my mind makes the matter worse. Can someone confirm this? How would one go about dealing with a smoke smell on a property that has just been repainted?

@Brandon G.

what I have found to deal with the smoke smell I have used a ozone generator

it worked well on our rehabbed properties

@Steve Smith

Can you confirm whether or not this works even in a case where the walls which were exposed to the smoke were actually painted over? I seem to recall reading that this seals the smell in and requires the sheet rock to need replacing. I can't find that thread now.

yes ozone machine works great even after house has been rehabbed @Brandon G.

You may have to replace the A/C or at lease do a pull and clean on the evaporator coil and blower wheel  then run the ozone generator into the duct-work. 

A number of years ago I rehabbed a house where there had been a fire. The hassle had been completely smile filed for a few horse and the fire department head come through with hoses and in full regalia to put the fire out. Damage due to the fire was somewhat minimal considering the situation but the place was sooty from to to bottom and there was a lot of charred wood in the area of the actual fire. We removed almost all of the charred material, had a fire damage cleaning company come in, and of course disputed of smirking fibrous. The capper, so to speak,  was to spray every square inch of the interior with two coats of Zinger BIN Shellac using an airless sprayer. This may or may not be possible in your case but it worked for us. This and a couple of rented ozone machines might do it. Good Luck

@Wayne V. - your post was "auto corrected" so incorrectly that parts of it are unclear at best :)

Brandon, We just went thru this in a duplex. 2nd to last unit that we allowed smoking in. We had to use "Kilz" on the walls and ceiling. Then painted it again with our "rental beige" and flat white ceiling paint. Had the HVAC system cleaned including duct work. Actually painted Kilz on the master bedroom floor when we removed the carpet. We then replaced all of the carpet. Washed, washed and washed the hardwood laminate. We then used Spic and Span on all cabinets and doors. We also put a cup filled with vinegar in the cold air return and turned on the HVAC fan for a few days. About $4 - 5000 and a lot of free labor from my wife and myself! Next time I will try the ozone generator.

Thanks for the info everyone. Is an ozone machine something you buy or rent? Just curious because i have no experience with that at all. 

As Steve noted, auto-uncorrected is more like it. No more posts from a cell phone for me. Sorry everyone, although the post is somewhat humorous : - )

We have had success with Kilz, removing the carpet and any other fabric such as curtains. The ozone generator sounds great, but in our experience with turning rentals, we still have to do a lot of scrubbing before we paint due to the tar/nicotine. We usually use TSP to clean because we are painting and that helps prep the surface well. Flat painted / textured ceilings get Original Kilz Oil since they can't be scrubbed easily. It comes with a heavy odor of its own, but seems to go away fairly quickly. We have used the shellac/varnish approach fairly successfully with pet odors on concrete floors too.

In your case, with the house already painted, if you can find the ozone generator, I'd give that a shot...

Kurt

Originally posted by @Brandon G. :

@Steve Smith

Can you confirm whether or not this works even in a case where the walls which were exposed to the smoke were actually painted over? I seem to recall reading that this seals the smell in and requires the sheet rock to need replacing. I can't find that thread now.

 I've never used an ozone generator but recently had a terrible problem with tenants who not only had chain-smoked but also allowed their pets to use the entire house as a toilet. I treated the walls and ceilings (with a garden sprayer) with a bleach/water combination as well as tea tree oil, then primed with the best primer I could find, then painted the whole place. I still had to replace the carpets but the treatments did take care of the wall and ceiling issues. If walls are sealed properly, then nothing that was on them can leak out; I have never heard of replacing sheetrock but can assure you that my property was as bad as it gets and yet my treatments worked just fine.

Originally posted by @Roger Cepelik :

You may have to replace the A/C or at lease do a pull and clean on the evaporator coil and blower wheel  then run the ozone generator into the duct-work. 

 Sorry, Roger, but I certainly would not recommend replacing the AC. Most of the odor is in the carpets and walls. I've had a property trashed this way by smokers and their pets and I did need to replace the carpets, but just treating the walls with tea tree oil, then a bleach/water mix, then primer/sealer and paint took care of everything. I've never used an ozone generator but have heard good things about them as well; much cheaper than a new AC, right?

Originally posted by @Wayne V. :

A number of years ago I rehabbed a house where there had been a fire. The hassle had been completely smile filed for a few horse and the fire department head come through with hoses and in full regalia to put the fire out. Damage due to the fire was somewhat minimal considering the situation but the place was sooty from to to bottom and there was a lot of charred wood in the area of the actual fire. We removed almost all of the charred material, had a fire damage cleaning company come in, and of course disputed of smirking fibrous. The capper, so to speak,  was to spray every square inch of the interior with two coats of Zinger BIN Shellac using an airless sprayer. This may or may not be possible in your case but it worked for us. This and a couple of rented ozone machines might do it. Good Luck

 Wayne: I'm not clear on this; was it the horse or the house that was smiling?? LOL. Sorry, but I couldn't resist... BTW, your advice about the Zinger product & ozone machines is excellent.

Hi Maggie,  

It was the horse in the house :-)

Originally posted by @Wayne V. :

Hi Maggie,  

It was the horse in the house :-)  

Hi Wayne!      :-))

Hi Fellow BP-ers,

I wanted to replace the auto-correct mash up with the intended post. While I was at it, I took the liberty to edit the story a tiny bit for clarification. Here it is the story in what I hope is a more readable form:

A number of years ago I rehabbed a house where there had been a fire. The two story house had been completely smoke filed for a few hours and the fire company had come through in full regalia with hoses to put the fire out. Damage due to the fire was contained to the two story wall where the fireplace was located, and was somewhat minimal considering the situation. However, the house was sooty from top to bottom and there was a lot of surface charred wood in the immediate area of the fire that would smell smoky forever if left untreated. We removed the seriously charred material, and because smoke is greasy, I hired a fire damage cleaning company, that has lime green trucks, to come in and scrub down the plaster walls, ceilings, and floors, Of course any and all fibrous material such as carpets , and cork boards in the kitchen and kids rooms had been removed and disposed of . The solution for the residual odor was to spray every square inch of the interior in the fire area with two coats of Zinser BIN Shellac using an airless sprayer, forcing the BIN into every crack and crevice. This required tenting off areas or rooms as we worked through the house, and suiting up in full protective gear. This was a really extreme situation which may or may not be required, or even possible in your case but it worked for us. It solved the problem without a major demo and I think it shows that when buying rehab properties, that even buildings like this are definitely salvageable and worth consideration if the price is right. Some version of this and a couple of rented ozone machines might do it. Good Luck

I love the tea tree oil idea.  I've had success with Kilz on all walls prior to painting as well as sealing the floors with Kilz and replacing all fabric (carpet, window treatments).  I've found that the ozone machine will temporarily fix the problem but the smoke odor needs to be sealed off with the Kilz first (which may remove the need for the ozone machine anyway). 

There are companies out there that remove odors as well.  One company in the Chicagoland area is called Biosweep.  I hadn't heard of this until recently.  They charge maybe 40 cents per square foot and their equipment is like an "ozone machine on steroids" according to the owner.  From my experience it's been effective, and definitely worth looking into.

Certain paints are actually useful for units with odors. Harmony by SW is an example.