Ask an Expert: Getting Rid of “New” Construction Smell

Ask an Expert is an occasional feature where we pose a question submitted by a reader to our Healthy Home Director Carl Grimes, HHS, CIEC

Reader Question:  How do I rid our home of “new construction” smell?

The “new construction smell” you are asking about is the combination of the entire mixture of chemicals “evaporating” from new paint, sealants, flooring, sheetrock, wood, and other building materials. They are properly called VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds.

The most effective action is to remove the source of the VOCs. If the source is gone there is no more unpleasantness or other reaction. Source removal, in this case, isn’t possible because the source is the house itself! So, the next best action is to reduce the sources. If this isn’t sufficient (based on a scale of your individual reactions ranging from “nuisance” all the way to “debilitating), then the only remedy may be to remove yourself from the source. In other words, move to another house.

Reducing the sources of “new construction” VOCs, rather than removal, can often be achieved with a “bake-out.” The idea is to warm the entire house structure to speed up the out-gassing (evaporation) of the chemicals from the building materials and finishes. Think of how long it would take a pan of water sitting on the counter to empty by evaporation. Then how much faster it would occur if you put it on a warm burner on the stove. It would still take a while but it would happen faster than just sitting on the counter at room temperature. This is what a “bake-out” does to a house.

The following are general instructions that should apply to most situations.

Have a question you’d like Carl to answer?  Submit it to [email protected] with ”Ask An Expert” in the subject line. You can also post questions on our Twitter and FB pages.  You may see your question featured here!

Twitter:  twitter.com/HaywardScore
Facebook: facebook.com/haywardscore/

 

Ready to Improve the Health of your Home?

Our clear customized report helps you understand your home and take action.

Related Articles
ARE YOU CONCERNED YOUR HOME IS MAKING YOU SICK?

ARE YOU CONCERNED YOUR HOME IS MAKING YOU SICK?

Our guide on indoor quality will help you diagnose possible issues and implement intelligent solutions to improve the quality of the air inside your home.

Related Articles