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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

How to Get Rid of Bad Odors After Water Damage

11/19/2019 (Permalink)

Removing water can be a difficult task. SERVPRO of Western Lancaster County has the experience to get your property back to its original state.

When it comes to water damage in the home, there is one problem that can sometimes persist even after everything is repaired and dry - foul odors. Moisture and damp lead to mold, mildew, and bacterial growth, all of which combine to create a musty odor in your home. Fortunately, with proper restoration and cleaning, it is possible to remove these odors and enjoy a fresh-smelling home again.

Types of Odors

Odors can be present as soon as the water damage occurs, or they may develop in the weeks following the damage - even if you thought you had removed all the water. Here are the three main types of odors you are likely to encounter following water damage.

Musty smells are caused by mold and mildew. If the water damage occurred in an unheated area, the odor may disperse when it is cold and then return when the temperature warms, and the mold spores begin to grow. Mold and mildew odors can be pervasive, so even a small patch of active growth can cause the odor to permeate the entire house.

Dirty sock odors are most often associated with air conditioning systems since the odor is often caused by bacteria and microbe growth on moist AC coils. Unfortunately, the odor can also develop anywhere else moisture has led to bacterial growth. If you smell a sour odor akin to dirty socks, then an area where bacterial growth occurred during the flood may have been reactivated. Further restoration and thorough cleaning can help solve the problem.

Sewage smells can persist long after the backup has been repaired. If your home was flooded with raw sewage, then the last thing you want is lingering odors. These odors aren't just unpleasant, they may also indicate that some items require further disinfection in order to be safe.

It's imperative to find the source of the smell and ensure there are no remaining sewer pathogens in your house. Once disinfection is assured, then the best solution is to schedule a deodorizing treatment for the affected area.

Removal Tactics

Although you can deodorize some surfaces on your own, odor-causing vectors often lurk behind walls or under the flooring in a home that has experienced water damage.

Quick-drying is the main method needed to prevent carpets from developing a musty or sour odor. After drying, the carpets require cleaning with a disinfectant designed to kill any mold spores that remain in the carpeting. Although steam cleaning and drying can often save carpeting, the carpet pad may continue to harbor moisture and odors. When smells persist in the carpeting, pad replacement is often the best option.

Both drywall and plaster can hold onto odors long after the floodwaters recede. Sometimes mold or microbial growth occurs inside the wall where a hidden pocket of moisture persists after the rest of the damage is addressed. There are two options to remedy the problem.

If you are sure the walls are dry, then you may be able to seal off the odor by repainting the walls with an odor-blocking primer and paint. Otherwise, the walls may need to be opened up and deep cleaned or removed and replaced.

Wood floors, trim, and support beams can all suffer from moisture damage. Rot, accompanied by mold growth, is the most common cause of odors on wood. It may be necessary to remove badly damaged wood, followed by sanding down and refinishing any wood that can be saved. Mold may lurk behind baseboards and trim, so remove everything and verify that there are no hidden odor sources.

There is no need to live with bad odors after water damage. Contact SERVPRO of Western Lancaster County for more help with your water damage repairs.

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