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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Odor Penetration

10/12/2018 (Permalink)

Factors which Help Odors Penetrate 

  • Surface Porosity – The porous nature of building material varies – Hardwoods are less porous than soft wood. The types of paint used will change the porous nature of building materials. Flat paint does little to protect against odor penetration while paints with a high gloss finish may make a surface impervious to odor and moisture penetration. Items like carpet, drapes, and upholstery are all excellent vessels for odor retention.  
  • Heat - Heat causes porous surfaces to expand, allowing odors to penetrate even deeper. When heat is removed, the surfaces cool, contract, and trap the odor particles. This is why odors resulting from a fire are so pungent and challenging to neutralize.
  • Heavy concentrations of residue - The more concentrated the residue from substances causing the odor, the greater the surface area of materials that it can impact. 
  • Exposure time - The longer a surface is exposed to odor particles, the greater the number of odor particles that will penetrate porous surfaces. The greater the number of odor particles that penetrate porous surface areas the stronger the odors are likely to be.

Environmental factors also influence our reception of odors. Odor molecules are very volatile; they vaporize easily. High humidity levels help dissolve and carry odor vapors to the nose. This makes odors in humid air seem stronger than those in dry air. Weather conditions thus impact how evident odors are to people; odors become more detectable by the nose as the humidity increases. Our technicians alert our clients about these potential environmental impacts. It is quite possible, even months later, for odors to reappear during times of increased humidity or temperature. That is not so say that the odor neutralization process was incomplete, but rather the environmental conditions have changed and become more conducive to odor reception. In some cases additional neutralization may be necessary.    

Next up - Deodorization methods and basic procedures.

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