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Controlling Catastrophic Odors

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Rancho Cordova, CA 95742

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Controlling Catastrophic Odors

One of the most annoying situations that a homeowner can experience involves a "catastrophic" odor. Odors are frequently a cause for concern, and there literally are hundreds of products available, over-the-counter (OTC) to help deal with those odors. In most cases, the odors are fairly routine and the products work to a greater or lesser extent, sometimes depending on who is doing the smelling. This article is going to focus on controlling odors that are, fortunately, not routine. They are: skunk, serious pet urine odor, and the odors associated with decomposition. Such odors are both very pervasive and very difficult to manage or control. We will deal with skunk and serious pet urine odors, first, and then discuss decomposition odors.

Before you do any of the following processes, it is very important to be safe. You will be dealing with some degree of biological contamination, and safety is even more important than usual. Certainly, you will want to wear gloves and eye protection. You also want to protect yourself from splashes or spills on your skin. And, finally, you should consider wearing an N-95 disposable respirator (available at Home Depot and similar stores). While the risk of inhaling contaminants is slight, it does exist, and it is certainly best to be safe. The other purpose served by an N-95 is that it keeps splashes from contacting the mucus membranes of your mouth or nose. And, finally, it is a physical barrier that will stop you from accidentally touching your mouth or nose with your (potentially contaminated) hand or finger. That is a habit that is difficult to break, and the mask stops it from happening.

In every mal-odor situation, the first step is to remove the source. If pet urine odors are on nonporous surfaces (metal, plastic or vinyl, etc.), thorough cleaning is the first step, and it may be enough. Pet urine and skunk spray contain natural oils, so using a strong detergent is very important since those oils contain the odor and must be removed. Using very warm (but not dangerously hot) water will make the cleaning faster and more effective. It may be necessary to clean the same area more than once. When finished, a final rinse with warm water helps remove the last bits of material, and it also removes any residue of the cleaning solution. This will prevent re-soiling since any residue will tend to attract dust and dirt.

Often the pet urine or skunk contamination is on porous materials, such as carpet, upholstery, drapes, particle board, etc. If it is on the surface of these materials, then cleaning, as above, is usually the first step. If cleaning is not successful, or if there is simply too much for the process to be successful, then you should call a professional restoration company such as PuroClean. In the case of carpet and pad with excessive pet urine damage, it is common that those materials are simply removed and disposed of as trash.

Semi-porous materials, such as wood (subfloor, 2x4's in walls, etc.) are a little different. As always, start with cleaning as above. Use your solution liberally. One of the goals is to have the cleaning product penetrate these materials to the same extent as the odor material, to help neutralize all of the materials. If particle board is heavily damaged by any fluid, including urine or skunk, then it cannot be restored to pre-loss condition and needs to be removed.

If the job is too large or too complex, or if what you try doesn't work, then you should seek assistance from a PuroClean professional restoration company. PuroClean professionals have specific training, specialized equipment and professional-grade products especially designed to help deal with cleaning and odor issues.

When you are dealing with an odor problem from decomposition, you should always consider calling PuroClean. If the situation involves a deceased person, then it is essential. After the proper authorities (coroner, medical examiner, etc.) have removed the body, then cleaning and decontaminating the remaining fluids come under federal or state, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Blood and Other Potentially Infectious Material (BOPIM) regulations. These regulations specify the training, equipment, safety issues, and products that must be used to safely remove and decontaminate an area damaged by BOPIM.

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If the source of the decomposition odor is a rodent or other small animal, the odor usually seems to be much larger! Even here, you may want to consider calling in a PuroClean professional restoration company. If you decide to "do it yourself," then the approach is similar to the above. All of the safety items are extra important because of the decomposition materials. Damaged, absorbent materials are simply put in the trash. Semi-porous and nonporous materials need to be thoroughly cleaned and then sanitized with a disinfectant. OTC disinfectants are very effective and will result in a clean and sanitary surface.

If an odor is still present, then try an air freshener. If the problem persists, call PuroClean. PuroClean professionals will have special products as well as special equipment, such as ozone or hydroxyl generators that can be very effective in completing the deodorizing process.

Regardless of the circumstances - dealing with an odor problem, water damage, fire/smoke damage, or mold remediation - call your local PuroClean Home Rescue office (866-722-7876), the Paramedics of Property Damage™. For all property damage situations, these professionals are standing by. They will mitigate the loss to prevent further damage and will then provide restoration services to return the property to a pre-loss condition as quickly as possible. All PuroClean offices have well-trained professional technicians who provide the latest state-of-the-science services to all property damaged from water, fire, smoke, mold, and other disasters.


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