How do you get rid of that smoky smell?

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,715
97
225
Monument, CO
#1
Amir's thread and current events led me to ask this one: How do you get rid of the smoky smell that permeates your house after a wildfire (or any fire)?
 

zztop7

Member Sponsor
Dec 12, 2012
750
0
0
Edmonds, WA
#2
Pesky Smoke Molecules - Evacuate and seal the house

Pesky Smoke Molecules - Evacuate and seal the house, then professional ozone generators to flood the house with ozone to destroy those pesky smoke molecules.
Best to you,
zz
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#3
Amir's thread and current events led me to ask this one: How do you get rid of the smoky smell that permeates your house after a wildfire (or any fire)?
Don

I'm just watching footage of the Colorado wildfires and it is the worst in history. How close are you to these fires??

You went through this last year as well IIRC
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,715
97
225
Monument, CO
#4
Last year my workplace was evacuated and many friends and coworkers lost homes. This year it is much closer (few miles) to our house and again a number of friends and coworkers have lost homes. The house-destroyed count is higher than last year. We have hauled a couple of loads to friend's house a little further away and made arrangements to stay if we are evacuated. Wed night I figured it was 50-50 and we were up all night packing and loading. Yesterday I was sure we would be out, but an influx of additional support (air and ground) plus slightly more favorable winds (for us, not those just to the south of us) kept it from jumping the major road nearby and it grew only slightly yesterday. To put in perspective, it grew from start to maybe 15 acres in an hour or two, then in a few more hours exploded to 8000 acres and traveled 8 miles, then Wed exploded again to over 15,000. Yesterday probably added a hundred or two. We are maybe 4 miles from the northern edge, but it has a clear shot to our place through the trees. We are 2-3 miles from the mandatory evac zone, and across the road from the current pre-evac zone. The terrain is identical either side of the road, and several times we have seen areas go from nothing to mandatory evac with no notice as the winds and fire shifted. A lot of people only had minutes to clear out once mandatory evac was declared. Winds lower and temps down today, slight chance of rain. Gusty thunderstorms with little rain are what blew up the fire last year so we are watching closely. We have stuff loaded and mostly ready to go so we can clear out in minutes if we have to, and in under an hour would have all we have on our list in the cars and gone.

A guy I am working closely with lost his house last year and moved in with his in-laws, and Tuesday the in-laws lost their house and he lost everything he saved (couple of cars worth) from the first fire plus a bunch of stuff they had gotten to go into their new house in a few weeks. All gone; his father-in-law got out with the dogs as flames licked the house. Our neighbor bugged out Wed; a good friend of theirs was awakened from a nap by one of their dogs barking to see the deck in flame. She got their dogs in one car while the house and their other car was burning and left with the clothes on her back.

Smoke was thick as fog yesterday, a little clearer this morn but you can still smell it, natch. Thus the question. Last year it eventually faded; we had heavy smoke then but much worse this year with the fire so close. We have had conflicting advice on whether to seal up the house or keep the AC running. We elected to keep the AC going; I am having to change the filter daily. Few in this area have AC since it is rarely needed; last year our neighbors came over for a while for breathable, cool air.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#5
Don

It almost becomes difficult to comment when one reads something such as this. Be safe and prayers be with you
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
Dec 25, 2011
4,835
51
210
The tube lair in beautiful Rock Hill, SC
#7
Holy smokes! I do have some advice but first off, we need to know if you and your loved ones are OK. I'm so sorry to hear of this, especially two years in a row.

Tom
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,715
97
225
Monument, CO
#8
We are fine, thanks. Moved all our stuff back today as it looks like it is pretty contained on our side of the fire (55% overall, and the interior is still hot). Left it all in boxes just in case. A number of friends and coworkers lost their homes, and many are still on mandatory evacuation. Some do not know their home's status as the sheriff team has not been able to penetrate all areas (still too hot). I worked a fire line in my youth, mop-up crew, and it is hard to imagine a harder job. A lot of folk do not understand how hot a wildfire can get, nor how it can seem to be out then flare up again.
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
Dec 25, 2011
4,835
51
210
The tube lair in beautiful Rock Hill, SC
#9
Oh, thank God. The wildfires out there are no joke. What tools do you have at your disposal to start wiping things [including walls] down?
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,715
97
225
Monument, CO
#11
Nothing special, usual household stuff. Towels, paper towels, etc. Someone advised using a weak vinegar solution, which of course led to a friend having to repaint walls. Not really up for that.
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
Dec 25, 2011
4,835
51
210
The tube lair in beautiful Rock Hill, SC
#12
How bad is the smell, Don?
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,715
97
225
Monument, CO
#13
I must clarify that I am asking for my friends and not just myself. In our house, it is very slight, as we were able to button up with the AC and only had really heavy smoke for a little while (day or two). Did have to change the furnace filter daily... So, just sort of a lingering odor, plus my son's asthma and my allergies are acting up.

Others have much heavier odor, and the worst (for those with houses still standing) actually have a smoky film on their walls, inside and out. I suppose suggestions for roughly those levels would be good. Some are in the process of getting quotes from various service agencies, but I was curious what we could do on our own (and hopefully and lower cost). And forestall any "bad" home-made remedies...
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
Dec 25, 2011
4,835
51
210
The tube lair in beautiful Rock Hill, SC
#14
Vinegar, baking soda, ammonia, Borax and Pine Sol are your friends right now, along with a lot of scrubbing of everything. Getting rid of smoke smell on walls require a cleaning and/or prime and repaint, there's really no other way around it. In the scope of work I have been involved with in the past, we would have the place vacated [emptied] and would Kilz, then repaint the entire premises including the floor [usually concrete]. Another company would then follow behind us to thoroughly clean every square inch that was not painted. At that point, the A/C ducts would be professionally cleaned, carpet and flooring installed and I do not know what happened to the tenants belongings because their insurance covered that portion. Before moving back in, 3 bottles of industrial air freshener were set in various locations within. We actually had to do this to one house where the tenant had smoked 2 packs a day for 25 years and never opened any windows. No amount of cleaning would have helped that property.

We do not have wild fires out here like I have seen you guys out West getting. Over here, the house or apartment is either a total loss or we did what I had mentioned above. It may have already been mentioned before but try to keep the windows open and fans going, wash whatever it is you can without ruining it, discard things that have permanent smoke damage and take a peek at the thread about mold/musty smells for further suggestions to mask the smell.

I would advise having your friends that are worse off than you contacting their insurance company to see what may or may not be covered prior to doing anything. For you and your son, give your doctor a call to see if something can specifically be done to improve your ailments. My apologies for not having more input than this, fire restoration [other than stove smoke damage] isn't really a specialty of mine due to the fact that it rarely occurred. It may be best to call a professional fire restoration company who specifically deals with this on an ongoing basis for advice. It is also somewhat difficult to offer advice on varying degrees of smoke damage without physically being on the location itself. My apologies for not being as helpful as you were possibly hoping for.

If you have blinds throughout the house, I do have a way of cleaning them thoroughly to brand new condition in a matter of 2 minutes or less per blind [plus dry time]. I will be happy to share this with you if you are interested but keep in mind, you will need the right tools to get this done. If you have 20-30 or so blinds, my cleaning method would definitely be worth the expense of purchasing the tools needed. Not many people out there have the time nor the patience to clean one blind a slat at a time, let alone 20-30 of them. If everybody goes in on the tools then shares them, the cost becomes negligible. Just LMK.

Tom
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,715
97
225
Monument, CO
#16
Thanks Tom, I will read and pass along your advice.

My coworker now burned out twice has decided his mission is to help others through the process (he appeared on all major local and national news today, including GMA, Fox, etc.) With your permission, and Amir/Steve as well (for the site?), I will be passing this along to him. He and his wife are really amazing; what they did not lose in the first fire they lost in this one, and are taking it in stride. They were about 6 weeks from moving into their new (rebuilt) home on the old site; their builder has pulled strings to get "unavailable, back-ordered" material to get them in next week. Bravo!
 
Apr 3, 2010
15,814
8
0
Seattle, WA
#17
Don if you are asking if you can forward the advice given by Tom to them, it is more than fine with us and I assume Tom. If it is something else, please clarify so that we can respond.

Your coworker seems to have amazing spirit to be able to handle such misfortune with strides. Here I was upset a couple of days ago because I couldn't finish my boat electronics install because I was missing a bracket! There are much more serious things in life to get upset about :).
 

treitz3

Super Moderator
Dec 25, 2011
4,835
51
210
The tube lair in beautiful Rock Hill, SC
#18
You are welcome, Don. That is fine with me as well. I would be happy to assist them in any capacity I possibly can.

Tom
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,715
97
225
Monument, CO
#19
Yes, I wanted to print it out and give to him, along with a link, as well as to others. I am pretty sure the content is copyright WBF once posted (?) thus wanted to ask. Usually I would simply provide a link, but a lot of us could use the help, and some no longer have ready computer access (to say the least!)
 
Aug 3, 2010
646
3
170
New Milford, CT
www.basspig.com
#20
I recommended an ozone generator to my daughter's piano teacher. She'd bought a house recently and it smelled of mold and cigarettes. She was amazed how effective it was at clearing up odors.
 

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