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What's that Smell in the Home?

Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford Shares Tips to Eliminate Odors

Unappealing odors in the home just stink — literally! While air fresheners and candles may temporarily mask certain odors, lingering odors can seep into furniture, fabrics, walls, and the home's foundation making it hard to identify the source and solve the problem. Danny Lipford, home improvement expert and host of the nationally syndicated show Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, identifies easy fixes for common odor problems in the home:

• Whole House: If you aren't sure where the odors are coming from or want to address multiple odor issues in your home at once, change the filter in your heating and cooling system to one that contains activated carbon. The Filtrete Odor Reduction Filter has a two-sided design, with one side that captures large airborne particles and the second side that helps remove odors throughout the home such as those from cooking, tobacco smoke, pets, mildew and cleaning chemicals — all while maintaining airflow in your HVAC system.

• Floors: Carpet and rugs can attract odors like a magnet, especially if you have pets or smokers in your home. To neutralize and remove odors, liberally sprinkle rugs and carpets with baking soda and use a broom to brush the powder into the fibers. Wait at least 15 minutes, then use vacuum cleaner equipped with a high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filter to capture many of the odor-causing contaminants.

• Walls and Baseboards: Walls and baseboards can also be another source of lingering odors. Try giving them a fresh coat of paint and make sure to start by applying a coat of primer that is specifically formulated to seal surfaces. Home improvement projects that involve paint, stains, solvents or adhesives can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air that can be harmful to your health , so be sure to switch on vent fans in the home and run it continuously for at least 30 minutes whenever you are doing a painting project.

• Basement: If the basement smells like sewer, a water trap under an infrequently used floor drain, wash basin or laundry tub could be the culprit. The water in the trap may have evaporated, allowing sewer gas to come up through the drain. Simply dump a pitcher of water into the drain to restore the trap water. If the smell is still lingering, call a professional to inspect the problem. You may have a loose connection joint in a wall or ceiling, or a cracked or broken sewer line.

• Bathroom: A bathroom vent fan can help to remove mold and mildew odors and push moist air to the outside of your home. First ensure that the vent is not clogged by a bird's nest or leaves and restricting the air flow. Also get into the habit of turning the fan on when you enter the bathroom and leave it running for 20 minutes after showering or bathing to remove excess moisture from the air. Replacing the wall switch with a timer switch that turns the fan off automatically is a simple way to ensure you don't leave the fan running.

• Kitchen:If you aren't a fan of cooking odors like fish or chicken permeating through your entire home, consider installing a vent hood over the stove and running it regularly while cooking. It will help remove moisture, trap grease and remove heat caused by using the stove. When shopping for a vent hood, consider one that has an easy to clean surface and energy efficient lighting. Also cover pots and pans while cooking to help reduce odors and lower the humidity in your home.

¹U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: