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Article Review: Some Unusual Sources of Building Odors

By: Dennis H. Brachfeld


The August Issue of Healthy Indoors Magazine featured the article Some Unusual Sources of Building Odors, By Jeffrey May. The article highlights situations where a person may encounter unpleasant odors.


Bathroom Odors:

The article shares an instance where a homeowner had a guest bathroom that had a very strong odor.


“He’d had the room scrubbed from top to bottom and the toilet checked to be sure that the toilet seal was intact (otherwise, sewer gas could have leaked into the room).

The culprit was the sink overflow that was full of mold and bacteria. He poured a mild bleach solution (one part bleach to ten parts water) down the over­flow, scrubbed the area out with an old toothbrush, rinsed the overflow, and the problem was solved.” (pg. 20)


Another cause odors in guest bathrooms are p-traps. Sinks and shower/bath tubs have p-traps. Our dry climate can cause the water to evaporate from the p-trap if the sink or tub is not used regularly. This happens in guest bathrooms. Also, basement floor drains need water poured in them approximately 30-90 days.


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Construction Materials:

A number of construction materials contain chemicals that people can have sensitivity to. A couple tips to combat the potential for off-gas – when a material gives off a chemical in the form of a gas – are:

1. Do remodeling in the summer when windows can be left open.

2. Increase fresh airflow with window fans blowing in or run the evaporative cooler.

3. Crack a skylight open.


The idea is to create positive pressure. Positive pressure is when air or gas pressure is greater than that of the surrounding environment. Basically, it pushes the gaseous air out of your home any way it can.


Do not run an attic fan or whole house fan. These create negative pressure, which will pull the air into through the house and into the attic. I like to say, “Think and act positively” as a reminder.


If you have questions about odors, air ventilation or the comfort of you your home, contact us. If you have questions regarding the air quality please contact Comfy Cave. They are air quality experts!


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