ODORS – Find and Eliminate the Source

Indoor Air Quality

ODORS – Find and Eliminate the Source

Odors are a topic that comes up in many of the articles I write about Indoor Air Quality. We have discussed car exhaust fumes pulled into a mechanical room at a used car dealer. We have discussed carpet and air fresheners to disguise smoke and other smells in Las Vegas casinos.

Our latest experience includes a complaint from a customer about six days after we remediated the HVAC system. The HVAC contractor had replaced the air handler, coil and distribution plenum. This was a downstairs unit with duct board trunk lines. We cleaned, sanitized, and applied our protective coating that prevents fungus and bacteria from coming back and it typically has a day or two “fresh paint” smell. But, after six days, the customer was concerned with odors coming from her system. Upon detailed investigation by one of our field representatives, a five pound “gel block” was discovered in the air handler unit. Even though it was placed in there with good intentions by the HVAC technician, this masking agent was the cause of the odor. We removed it and the customer confirmed this seemed to be the odor they were having. We conducted another follow-up a week later and the odor problem was gone.

Find and eliminating the source of odors is sometimes time consuming, but it is the only solution. Locating the source for an odor is not necessarily as simple as it sounds. Talking and listening to the customer is critical. Accurate descriptions of the odors, times when the odors occur, outside weather conditions (was it raining) activities at the time of the odors and surrounding facilities are often clues in identifying odor problems. Knowledge of HVAC system and other ventilations systems and air pathways is essential to finding and eliminating sources of many odors.

Some of the most common causes of odors:

  •  Microbial and fungal amplification inside the air handler unit
  •  Sewer gas/odors entering the facility or HVAC return air system
  •  Insufficient outside air makeup
  •  Improperly located or filtered outside air makeup
  •  Inadequate exhaust ventilation

In summary, identify and eliminate the source of the odor, do not disguise or try and cover it up.

We want to hear from you! Call or email to tell us about your indoor air quality problems.  We’ll help you find the right solution.