Question? Just ask us!
Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
InspectAPedia ® Home
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT STRATEGIES
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BOOK MOLD, CLEANING
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPETING & INDOOR AIR QUALITY
CAT DANDER in buildings
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CHEMICAL ODOR SOURCES
CHLORINE IN DRINKING WATER
COMBUSTION GASES & PARTICLE HAZARDS
DIRT FLOOR MOLD CONTAMINATION
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
EMERGENCY RESPONSE, IAQ, GAS, MOLD
Fireplaces & Woodstove Contaminants
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
GASES, EXPOSURE, TESTING
GAS DETECTION INSTRUMENTS
GAS EXPOSURE LIMITS & STANDARDS
GLUES ADHESIVES, EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION
HEATING OIL EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
INDOOR AIR HAZARDS TABLE
INDOOR AIR QUALITY & HOUSE TIGHTNESS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
GAS LP & NATURAL GAS SAFETY HAZARDS
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MILDEW in BUILDINGS ?
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
MOLD ACTION GUIDE - WHAT TO DO ABOUT MOLD
MOLD or INDOOR AIR EMERGENCY RESPONSE
MOLD TEST KITS
MOTHS, MOTHBALL ODORS
MSDS MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEETS
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
OIL, HEATING, EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
OIL HEAT ODORS & NOISES
OIL TANK LEAK & ODOR CAUSES
OIL ODOR SOURCES
OUTHOUSES & LATRINES
OZONE MOLD / ODOR TREATMENT WARNINGS
PAINTS & COATINGS ODORS IN BUILDINGS
PESTICIDE EXPOSURE HAZARDS
PET ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
PET STAINS & MARKS in BUILDINGS
PET STAINS on WALLS
PLASTIC ODORS-SCREENS, SIDING
PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS
SEPTIC SYSTEM ODORS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWER GAS ODORS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
STAINS on & in BUILDINGS, CAUSES & CURES
STAINS on CONCRETE
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL IMAGING MOLD SCANS
TRAPPED MOLD BETWEEN WOOD SURFACES
UREA FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION, UFFI
URETHANE FOAM Deterioration, Outgassing
UV LIGHT BLACK LIGHT USES
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VINYL CHLORIDE HEALTH INFO
VINYL SIDING or WINDOW PLASTIC ODORS
VOCs VOLATILE ORGANIC COMPOUNDS
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER TEST CHOICES & WATER TEST FEES
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
Smell patch test procedure tracks down odor sources: how to use paper towels, aluminum foil, and tape to perform a simple but effective odor source test of building surfaces and materials.
This article describes a simple procedure using paper towels and aluminum foil wrap to track down odors in buildings, such as but not limited to tracking down mold smells, sewer smells, plastic smells, chemical odors, animal odors, and even new smells that occur after excessive indoor use of ozone in buildings to try to "kill" mold or remove other indoor odors (skunks or smoke).
Our page top photo shows the last step in the smell-source test procedure, though we recommend that this step be conducted outdoors in fresh air.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2014 InspectApedia.com, All Rights Reserved.
The procedure we describe here is easy, inexpensive, and fast - you'll need a day or so, plus some common household materials to track down an indoor smell to the surface or material that is its most likely source.
Depending on what caused the material to smell in the first place, disposal may be the only option. In other cases, amateur or professional cleaning or use of sealant paints may be effective. If you've already tried using an ozone generator to kill an indoor odor, you may have used the equipment improperly.
Ozone or O3 is a highly reactive oxygen molecule that can cause oxidation of materials that it touches. This oxidation, especially of some rubbers and plastics, can leave a horrible smell in the treated building.
Before getting into the details of how to perform the smell patch test, note that there are at least the following odor investigation approaches:
You can start tracking down the cause or source of an odor in one or more of several ways:
Using Ozone to Get Rid of Skunk or Mold Smells?
This quote from a reader's email pretty well sums up what happens if you overdo it when using an ozone generator indoors to try to "kill off" odors:
We have investigated a number of cases of misapplication of ozone generating machines both to "kill mold" (no good, you're leaving toxic or allergenic particles, and you haven't corrected the reason for mold growth in the first place). We have also investigated several cases of excessive ozone-use to try to remove odors from buildings, including fire or fireplace smells, mold smells, pet or animal smells, skunk odors, smoking odors, etc.
Using an Ozone Generator Has Left a Smell in our Home - How do I Get Rid of It?
If you have aired out the building and days or more have passed and you still smell a "new" chemical or plastic or other odor that was not there before you tried using your ozone generator, you'll need to determine just what materials were oxidized by the high levels of ozone in the building.
It's been our experience that once you identify and dispose of the new-smelly material you'll probably be fine. Here are some examples of material we've found giving off horrible smells after misuse of an ozone generator. (Misuse means using the ozone generator to try to kill mold, or running an ozone generator too long at too high a setting in too small a space - overdoing it).
Our friend Jeff May suggested this procedure for pinning down a specific odor test in buildings - it has worked remarkably well for us where ozone had caused an indoor smell that could not be tracked down.
Our photo (left) shows the supplies you need as well as a test set up on the surface of wall to wall carpeting. We have added to, elaborated, and provided details of just how this smell patch test works - below.
Test your control smell patches as follows:
If a smell test is definitive, the test person will usually report very accurately which patches are from a given smell or surface area.
We have had very good results with this procedure when used to narrow down odor sources in an ozone-treated building, and we had up to 95% repeatability when we used additional smell test patches.
Continue reading at ODOR DIAGNOSIS CHECKLIST, PROCEDURE or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Suggested citation for this web page
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
No FAQs have been posted for this page. Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Search the InspectApedia website
HTML Comment Box is loading comments...
Technical Reviewers & References