Common Causes of Household Odors
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Common Causes of Household Odors

Good or bad, odors ae largely a matter of chemistry, and there is typically a lot of chemistry going on in, around and under most households. Bad odors are common and stem from diverse sources. And identifying those sources and getting rid of the odors can be challenging.



One of the most common obnoxious smells is that of dead animals, and not infrequently, they can be traced to the fact that an animal has found its way into a house, sometimes sick and sometimes unfortunate enough to become permanently entrapped. Once the animal expires, the decay process begins and unless the body is discovered and removed quickly, it generates foul odors and fluids that are not only offensive, but can result in damage to property.

More commonly, offensive household odors simply develop through normal organic processes. Moist environments encourage the growth of mode and mildew, for example, affecting such surfaces as shower and bathroom walls and carpeting. Mold and mildew are fungi and can be suppressed by a variety of products. In carpeting, however, the process can be more difficult, with the problem often originating in the backing layer. Most often a problem with carpet made of natural fibers, the fungi can be minimized through the use carpeting made of synthetic fibers.

Foul-smelling mold can also be a problem in bathroom sinks and shower drains that are not used regularly. Drains are designed with P-traps -- half-loops designed to block sewer odors by holding a small amount of water in the bottom of the loop. The water in seldom-used drains can evaporate, effectively removing the blockage and allowing sewer gas to enter the home.

Moreover, materials such as hair, toothpaste, gel and other gunk can accumulate in the drain, clogging it and allowing mold and mildew to form. Enzyme-based cleaners poured into the drain can eat away the blockage and suppress the odors it has generated.

Tobacco smoke is a problem in some households, and while it may not disturb the current occupants, it may become a problem when it comes time to sell. Tobacco smoke is known to permeate both walls and carpets and its odor is hard to get rid of. Special carpet cleaning and wall cleaning a solutions are required, and normally walls also require a sealant to lock in the smoke odor prior to painting.

Pet urine is an enduring problem even though its odor may fade to the olfactory sense of the pet-owner. It’s never gone for good, though, usually returning when carpets are steam-cleaned or when the air becomes especially humid.

Odor-wise, the solution continues to be: fight bad chemistry with good chemistry.

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