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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Odor Remediation - Deodorization Procedures

12/6/2017 (Permalink)

Successful deodorization requires neutralization all odor particles. Deodorization is an integral part of restoration and requires professionals trained in all facets of restoration and odor neutralization procedures. Deodorization would be simple if all odors came from one source and one deodorization method could eliminate all of them. Unfortunately, all odors do not come from one source. Restoration professionals deal with some unique odor problems— things you have never heard of or dealt with before. The odor control technician needs to employ multiple methods of deodorization to deal with the many, various odors.

There are four basic deodorization procedures which must be followed.

  1. Remove the source of the odor.  
  2. Clean surfaces with odor-causing residues on them.
  3. Recreate the conditions that caused odor penetration.
  4. Seal surfaces exposed to malodors.

Remove the Odor Source

Simply attempting to deodorize the source with a masking agent will help to cover up any unwanted odors, however, that is all masking agents will do. For example, if the source of odor is a dead animal in a crawl space, you would not think of leaving the animal in place and trying to deodorize by spraying, fogging, or cleaning. In the same way, in a building that is damaged by a fire, you should remove charred structural materials before deodorizing. Debris that is contaminated with smoke residues can continue to give off smoke odors or soils if not removed. The universal first step in deodorization is to identify the source of the odor and remove the source. Taking this initial step will help lessen the amount of odor in the building. Other procedures will be needed, of course, to get rid of all the odors.

Clean Surfaces

Clean surfaces that have odor-causing residues on them. Small particles of odor-producing residue will continue to generate odors if not cleaned effectively. For example, in a grease fire you may need to clean significant concentrations of residue from the stove, countertops, vent hood, vent filter, cabinets, walls, ceilings, etc., to stop odor problems. Check all rooms— not just the kitchen —

to see how far odors have penetrated. Sometimes the entire structure and its contents may need to be cleaned to remove smoke odors.

Recreate the Conditions

No, we are not attempting to "recreate" the conditions that caused the unwanted odor. What we are referring to is the importance of how the neutralizing agent is applied. In other words, to be effective, deodorizers must be applied to the affected surface in a manner similar to the way the odor-causing substances penetrated that surface. For example, if smoke created the problem, a deodorizing “smoke” or fog will be most effective in following odors to their source. If urine contaminated an area, then “flood” affected areas with deodorizers (sanitizers, neutralizers, and digesters).

Also, odors can be distributed in more than one way. For example, decaying flesh produces fumes and gases, which are distributed on air currents to surfaces not in direct contact with the source. This situation may require multiple methods of deodorization. Directly saturate any areas that were physically contacted by the source. Fog other areas to seek out odor vapors that have penetrated surfaces.

Seal Surfaces

The final step of the deodorization process is to properly seal the surfaces that have been exposed to malodors. This step is not required in all circumstances, but may be called for in severe situations. If odor removal would be too expensive or impractical, sealing might eliminate the problem. Two common sealing situations are painting walls and sealing inaccessible duct surfaces in air handling systems.

Next I will touch on the many types of neutralizing agents and the different effects each have on malodors.

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