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Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: January 30, 2020 07:38PM
when my brother passed i inherited his properties one of which was the condo our parents lived it. It's completely empty and i've had it on the market for about a year. The building it was in had a massive fire yesterday. About half the structure was completely gutted! Fortunately, my half of the building was untouched. i think the fire was stopped about two condos before mine. i went in there today and there are no soot or smoke smudges in the hallway and stairs leading to the condo and definitely no damage like that inside the condo.

But there is the smell of smoke and I'm trying to figure out if i need to do anything about it. to my nose the smell is about as strong as having a rip roaring fireplace fire going for a number of hours. an acquaintance of mine had a major house fire last year and posted on facebook about bringing ozone machines in to deal with the smell. does that always have to be done? will this smell dissipate over time? if i don't do something now do i run the risk of the smell permanently setting? i imagine it's going to be at least two years before this building is renovated/restored and i'll be able to put the condo up for sale again.

in case it matters, there is no furniture in the condo but there is wall-to-wall carpeting. and i'll also say now that this condo was not insured. since my brother didn't insure it i, perhaps stupidly in retrospect, didn't bother either. to my credit i have continued the insurance on his primary residence (also on the market now) and instituted insurance on the property he was renting out.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: davester
Date: January 30, 2020 07:43PM
I'm pretty sure that you have to move fast with smoke damage (which includes odor) before the compounds that are emitting the odor attach themselves permanently to the furnishings. If I were you I'd call your insurance agent pronto.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 30, 2020 08:09PM
First thing is get a 20" box fan and attach a 20x20x1 filter to the back of it. I've seen a test that showed it took out around 98% of tested particles in just a few hours. Regardless, it will clean up lots of particles easily and cheaply so other means of cleaning will have an easier time.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: January 30, 2020 08:12PM
Quote
Dennis S
First thing is get a 20" box fan and attach a 20x20x1 filter to the back of it. I've seen a test that showed it took out around 98% of tested particles in just a few hours. Regardless, it will clean up lots of particles easily and cheaply so other means of cleaning will have an easier time.

i can at least get that started tomorrow. it's 1449sq.ft. does it matter where the fan is placed? would more than one be useful?



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 30, 2020 08:34PM
I'm sure more fans would be better, but I don't know how cost effective it would be. You'll have about $30 in each one. There are youtubes that show this, but it's really easy to do. You can stack the filters and have a better one next to the fan and then a cheaper one before it. That way the good one can focus on the serious particles since the cheap one would keep the bigger particles from getting to it. Use tape or zip ties to attach the filters. Put the filter(s) on the back side to keep the blades cleaner. You might also put a pan of water and baking soda in front of the fan. It seems like that would help.

I would put the fan in the center of the house to start with. If you can find the YouTube that shows the graph of the particle removable over time, it's pretty impressive.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/30/2020 08:36PM by Dennis S.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 30, 2020 08:40PM
Here's a video showing a graph of the effectiveness. Pretty impressive:

[m.youtube.com]

If you add HEPA filter, this will make its job much easier.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Racer X
Date: January 30, 2020 08:44PM
this is one case where the high efficiency 3m filtrete ones are the way to go.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: pRICE cUBE
Date: January 30, 2020 08:45PM
Get an ozone generator. Do not be in the room when running this. It runs on a timer so it will shut off. Then you can reenter as a time where the ozone dissipates. You probably want to crack open a window to allow this to happen but not enough of an opening to let the ozone sit and eliminate order. This works, I helped a friend get rid of cigarette smoke smell from a house.

[www.amazon.com]

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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 30, 2020 08:54PM
Also, wash walls with TSP. Would get a big sack of baking soda at Sam's or Costco and sprinkle it heavily on the carpets and vacuum later. Google borax and smoke and see if it has any applications.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: davester
Date: January 30, 2020 09:20PM
A box fan with particulate filter is very useful for smoke particles that are suspended in the air (i.e. from a nearby wildfire that is filling the house with smoke). However, if the fire and smoke is already gone, it's going to be close to useless for removing the chemicals that are attached to the fabrics and other materials in the home and that are causing the post-fire odor. An ozone generator is one of the tools that the pros use to help neutralize the chemicals but the consumer grade ones are close to useless and anything that's useful is likely dangerous to use by someone without expertise. I'll repeat my advice to, call the insurance agent and tell him/her that you want a smoke damage expert over there pronto.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Gareth
Date: January 30, 2020 09:43PM
Quote
davester
I'll repeat my advice to, call the insurance agent and tell him/her that you want a smoke damage expert over there pronto.

Per graylocks' first post, there was no insurance on the unit, but maybe the HOA would be of some help? If there are HOA fees that are being paid, that may cover some insurance aspects.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: January 30, 2020 10:45PM
Quote
Gareth
Quote
davester
I'll repeat my advice to, call the insurance agent and tell him/her that you want a smoke damage expert over there pronto.

Per graylocks' first post, there was no insurance on the unit, but maybe the HOA would be of some help? If there are HOA fees that are being paid, that may cover some insurance aspects.

correct. there is no insurance but i will call the agent who covers my other properties and see if he has any recommendations for companies to get quotes from in this situation.

thank you, all.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Racer X
Date: January 31, 2020 12:05AM
the liability insurance for the burned out units' owners should be paying for it.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: January 31, 2020 01:03AM
Quote
Racer X
the liability insurance for the burned out units' owners should be paying for it.

so whoever caused the fire is liable? how does that work? not that it matters. this is a, shall we say, economically struggling complex. i would not be surprised if most of the residents there are renters and few units have any insurance coverage whatsoever. funny. when my parents moved there from new york 25 years ago the place was a welcome paradise to them. they were only there a few years when illness took them.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 31, 2020 11:17AM
Quote
davester
A box fan with particulate filter is very useful for smoke particles that are suspended in the air (i.e. from a nearby wildfire that is filling the house with smoke). However, if the fire and smoke is already gone, it's going to be close to useless for removing the chemicals that are attached to the fabrics and other materials in the home and that are causing the post-fire odor. An ozone generator is one of the tools that the pros use to help neutralize the chemicals but the consumer grade ones are close to useless and anything that's useful is likely dangerous to use by someone without expertise. I'll repeat my advice to, call the insurance agent and tell him/her that you want a smoke damage expert over there pronto.

I agree with what you're saying, but I think if you can smell smoke, that means there are participants in the air and they need to be gotten rid of.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: January 31, 2020 12:58PM
Quote
Dennis S
Here's a video showing a graph of the effectiveness. Pretty impressive:

[m.youtube.com]

If you add HEPA filter, this will make its job much easier.

Wow! that's impressive! if i make one and use it in my own home will i never have to dust again? smiley-music039



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Dennis S
Date: January 31, 2020 05:32PM
Quote
graylocks
Quote
Dennis S
Here's a video showing a graph of the effectiveness. Pretty impressive:

[m.youtube.com]

If you add HEPA filter, this will make its job much easier.

Wow! that's impressive! if i make one and use it in my own home will i never have to dust again? smiley-music039

It's bound to legitimately help. If you have central air or heat with a filter, you won't have to change it as often.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: January 31, 2020 06:58PM
Quote
Dennis S
Quote
davester
A box fan with particulate filter is very useful for smoke particles that are suspended in the air (i.e. from a nearby wildfire that is filling the house with smoke). However, if the fire and smoke is already gone, it's going to be close to useless for removing the chemicals that are attached to the fabrics and other materials in the home and that are causing the post-fire odor. An ozone generator is one of the tools that the pros use to help neutralize the chemicals but the consumer grade ones are close to useless and anything that's useful is likely dangerous to use by someone without expertise. I'll repeat my advice to, call the insurance agent and tell him/her that you want a smoke damage expert over there pronto.

I agree with what you're saying, but I think if you can smell smoke, that means there are participants in the air and they need to be gotten rid of.

I doubt that the box fan will do anything to remove the odor. As noted above an ozone generator (or a few) is what's needed.

You may want to start with having the carpets cleaned. I wouldn't be surprised if this made a huge difference. If there are any other soft finishes (curtains, etc), I would clean those as well. After all this, if there is still an odor, try the ozone generator. There can't be anything living in the space during the operation of the ozone generator. Once completed, I would open the windows and leave for a while.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: January 31, 2020 07:30PM
Quote
macphanatic

I doubt that the box fan will do anything to remove the odor. As noted above an ozone generator (or a few) is what's needed.

You may want to start with having the carpets cleaned. I wouldn't be surprised if this made a huge difference. If there are any other soft finishes (curtains, etc), I would clean those as well. After all this, if there is still an odor, try the ozone generator. There can't be anything living in the space during the operation of the ozone generator. Once completed, I would open the windows and leave for a while.

water and electricity have been shut down to the entire structure. when it's back on i'm going to set up the box fan because it can't hurt and i am so captivated by the contraption i'm going to use it in my house when the southern green dust pollen hits in March. the condo is unoccupied and i think it does make sense to clean the wall-to-wall carpeting and perhaps TSP all surfaces. then see if it needs ozoning.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: pRICE cUBE
Date: January 31, 2020 11:41PM
A box fan and filter will only catch particles floating in the air. Your issue is particles have been infused into the walls, flooring, etc.

I know another person that used this device to get rid of fish small after a cooler leaked on the way back from a fishing trip.



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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: GGD
Date: January 31, 2020 11:51PM
Decades ago when I lived in a townhouse the home owners association dues covered fire insurance on the structures, since there were shared common walls/roofs/etc. Is there a monthly condo association dues? Might want to investigate what it covers.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: February 01, 2020 12:44AM
Quote
GGD
Decades ago when I lived in a townhouse the home owners association dues covered fire insurance on the structures, since there were shared common walls/roofs/etc. Is there a monthly condo association dues? Might want to investigate what it covers.

yes. there is an association. i'll ask.



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: Janit
Date: February 01, 2020 10:34AM
Quote
graylocks
Quote
GGD
Decades ago when I lived in a townhouse the home owners association dues covered fire insurance on the structures, since there were shared common walls/roofs/etc. Is there a monthly condo association dues? Might want to investigate what it covers.

yes. there is an association. i'll ask.

If the condo association has insurance, you should ask to read the policy yourself. Don'r rely on the people who run the association to tell you what is covers. They may be knowledgeable, or not, they may be honest, or not.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: macphanatic
Date: February 01, 2020 03:30PM
Quote
Janit
Quote
graylocks
Quote
GGD
Decades ago when I lived in a townhouse the home owners association dues covered fire insurance on the structures, since there were shared common walls/roofs/etc. Is there a monthly condo association dues? Might want to investigate what it covers.

yes. there is an association. i'll ask.

If the condo association has insurance, you should ask to read the policy yourself. Don'r rely on the people who run the association to tell you what is covers. They may be knowledgeable, or not, they may be honest, or not.

You might want to reach out to your agent. I know that you aren't insuring this property but you have insurance on other properties. Your agent might be able to give you insight as to how other's policies might or might not respond. The key here is that you may have run out of time or may soon do so.
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Re: Thoughts on Dealing with Building Fire Smoke Smell
Posted by: graylocks
Date: February 01, 2020 04:54PM
Quote
macphanatic
The key here is that you may have run out of time or may soon do so.

what kind of time crunch are you referring to?



"Success isn't about how much money you make. It is about the difference you make in people's lives."--Michelle Obama
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