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Thread: My house stinks

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,827

    My house stinks

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    So I live in a condo apartment in an old building, on the second floor. Right now my house stinks like whatever my neighbors are cooking for dinner. It's so disgusting that it woke me up from a nap I was taking in the living room and it has completely killed my appetite for dinner. Apparently they consider it food, I don't know what it is.

    This has been a problem the entire time I've lived here. No one ever bakes cookies, it's always something disgusting. But regardless of what it is, I do not know want my house to smell like it.

    I renovated my kitchen about 5 years ago and at the time I had the contractor plug every hole that he could find in the walls and ceiling. I covered the openings around the pipes in the sink cabinet with plastic and duct tape. Somehow the stench is still finding it's way into my house. In the far corner of my living room, it smells like I'm in their kitchen next to their stove -- that's how overpowering it is. I sleep with my bedroom door closed but when my neighbors make coffee in the morning the smell of it wakes me up.

    I've tried scented candles, I've sprayed a can of Febreze, I have my kitchen vent fan running on high (a charcoal filter, it does not vent to the outside). Nothing helps. I'll have a sore throat tonight and tomorrow from the Febreze. The stink will probably linger through tomorrow.

    I sent out an email to my neighborhood list serve looking for suggestions and someone mentioned "smoke enders" candles. Does anyone know anything about them? I looked online, found some on Amazon but the reviews were not impressive.

    I also found this, and there's a customer review that says it absorbs kitchen smells (in about an hour), for what that's worth.

    http://www.containerstore.com/s/clos...7-901CA1C4BBE8

    I don't know what to do. I'm thinking of putting up a curtain rod to hang a heavy drape across the doorway into the kitchen, to try to trap the stench in there. I don't want to do this, because it will look stupid, but if I can at least contain the stink it might help. Of course that would also mean the kitchen would be freezing cold all winter long because blocking the air flow at the door will reduce the effectiveness of my heat pump, but at least I might be able to sit in my living room without being disgusted and pissed off.

    Talking to the neighbors is not an option, by the way. Everyone in the building besides me is a renter, not an owner, and they already think I'm nuts from my efforts to get them to stop throwing trash around in the common areas. And I don't even know whose kitchen it's coming from, it might be from more than one of them.

    Anyway I"m open to suggestions, if anyone has any.

    Thanks

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    IL/FL
    Posts
    3,863
    Something that might help is small bowls of white vinegar placed around your place. I've used it for a moldy basement smell and my neighbor uses it for pot smell (must work, she's a daily smoker and I can't smell it in her place). Might be a good first try since the other options probably cost more.

    Electra Townie 7D

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    california
    Posts
    1,200
    I’ll second vinegar in a bowl. Glade Oust might be worth a try too.
    Do your CC&Rs have anything to say about cooking odors? Is an odor addendum in the lease agreements possible? We just have few tenants and the building requires leases to have restrictions on odors even though the only way it could get into the hallway is through an open door.
    Is the odor also in the hallway and coming in through gaps in your door?....if so maybe a weather stripping kit might work
    Hoping you find a solution!!!!
    ‘The negative feelings we all have can be addictive…just as the positive…it’s up to
    us to decide which ones we want to choose and feed”… Pema Chodron

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Troutdale, OR
    Posts
    2,604
    Well, there are two things you can do. One you've already found out is to use activated charcoal filter. But sitting around like that probably will not reduce the smell (the chemical that is causing the stench). You really need something like this http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...BYYN2Z4QCB87KQ if the link doesn't work search "Honeywell 50250-S 99.97% Pure HEPA Round Air Purifier". You want the air to actively pass through the carbon filter to trap the chemical that is causing the stench.

    I think the air filter is the simplest. We use to have the cheaper one Honeywell Long-Life Pure HEPA QuietCare Air Purifier, 17000 but after the move to Oregon, I don't know where it is...

    Another option bit more extreme and not practical for normal house. It's to create positive pressure inside so that air is always flowing out of your house.

    I would recommend trying the air purifier instead of trying to mask the stench with Fabreeze or any scented candles. Only thing that really does the job is activated charcoal along with very fine HEPA filter and fan to force air through the filter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
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    6,636
    Gag, so sorry. We stayed in an extended-stay hotel for a month that had the same problem. We'd smell toast and other things the neighbors were cooking. We decided it was coming through the HVAC vents because whenever the heat would come on, the smell would be much worse. I'd wake up in the morning to toast and coffee smells. It was worst in our bathroom, so we kept that door closed. Fortunately that was short-term.

    We also stayed in a second floor condo in Tucson that had horrible smells coming up from the unit below (we think). We tracked these down to behind our dishwasher. There must have been some holes in the walls or something. My DH thought it smelled like smoke (they were smokers), but to me it smelled like rotten food. We were only there a month so did not talk to them but did mention it to the property owners when we checked out so perhaps they could investigate and have any holes plugged up.

    I have never tried it, but I did find this: http://www.pureayre.com/products-home.htm. Sounds like it has potential.

    GOOD LUCK!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,686
    That is terrible. Perhaps running a couple of air purifiers might work? I don't like the smell of food (any food) after I am done cooking and eating, so I run one in my kitchen while I am cooking and for a couple of hours afterwards.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    There are charcoal filters you can put into your existing HVAC (assuming you have forced air) - either small ones you cut to size and put just inside the vent outlets, or inline systems that replace or supplement the dust filter.

    That sounds nasty, hope you find a good solution.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,827
    Thanks ladies!


    My microwave is installed over my stove and there is an exhaust fan built into it, with a carbon filter because there's no vent to the outside. I don't like to use it because it's very loud and does something to the air flow/temperature that makes the heat pump run more than is necessary. So I'm looking into getting a tabletop air purifier -- there's one from Holmes that can use several different filters, including one with charcoal and baking soda. I'm hoping that it won't be as loud, and that if I put it farther away from the kitchen doorway the air flow won't cause problems.

    I'm also going to get some charcoal-in-a-bag deodorizers to put in various rooms. I"m also intrigued by the idea of charcoal filters inside the HVAC ducts, but I worry that lessen the air flow through the ducts. I'll ask the HVAC guys when they come to do the fall maintenance on the system.


    While I was researching these products, I found this recipe for a homemade odor-neutralizing spray. I'm going to try it out.

    "Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with one teaspoon of white vinegar. Then add two cups of water to that, and decant the solution into a fine mist spray bottle. This should neutralise odours as opposed to simply masking the scent with a different scent. This mixture can be used on water safe fabric and carpets."

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,827
    Oy. I ordered the air purifier from Best Buy. It was ship-to-home only, not available to be shipped to a store. UPS trashed the box in shipping. Based on the dirt on the package inside the box and the crush marks on multiple sides, I think it was probably already in bad shape before it was shipped. So I'm returning it.

    I ordered the same model directly from the manufacturer's website -- for a lower price, and the replacement filters were on sale there so I got two of them, all for less than I paid for the first order. I chose 2-day shipping, so hopefully UPS or FedEx will take better care of this package.

    (I've had a lot of problems in the past year with packages being crushed in shipment and online orders being poorly packed for shipping. Very frustrating.)

    Meanwhile. I picked up several bamboo charcoal deodorizers from The Container Store last week. I decided to put one on top of the new wall cabinet in my recently remodeled bathroom, because the new exhaust fan that I had installed is drawing cigarette smoke in from the townhouse next door. The wall cabinet is 9" deep, recessed in the wall about 4". And low and behold, I found a 1" gap between the top of the cabinet and the wall. You can't see it unless you're up on a ladder, because the trim around the cabinet hides it. But I'm pretty sure I've found out how the cigarette smell is getting in. And this is a significant opening for hot air to escape through when the heat is on. Now I just need to figure out how to fill the gap. As a short-term solution, I've stuffed plastic bags into it.

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    Last edited by ny biker; 11-07-2015 at 12:14 PM.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,636
    Ah, good find, ny! I hate cigarette smoke smell above just about anything else. We lived upstairs in an old historic home in Ohio for awhile, and the widow lady downstairs smoked like a chimney. We had to keep towels stuffed under the door to the upstairs to keep the smell out. Fortunately, that seemed to be the only infiltration point.

    I hope the air purifier helps! Be sure to report back.
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    1,686
    I think the company that installed the cabinet should come back and do a good job. Having that gap does not make any sense.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Sillycon Valley, California
    Posts
    4,869
    pll is right, someone did not do their job properly!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    IL/FL
    Posts
    3,863
    Pretty sure that violates fire code, might want to follow up and have it installed properly. Lazy sods.

    Electra Townie 7D

 

 

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