Buying Forclosed House: Getting Stong Smell Out!

Updated on March 24, 2010
L.P. asks from Minneapolis, MN
13 answers

We just put an offer in on a house that has been forclosed on. It is 9 years old, and the previous owners did not take care of it. They were really messy and the house smells horrible!! They have a full sized dog, so the house mainly smells like wet dog. We will definatly have to get rid of all floor coverings and paint every wall. I am concerned we won't get the smell out of the furnace/ducts and every time we turn the AC or heat on it will smell. I am also wondering if the kitchen cupboards would have happend to absorb the smell too? Does this happen? We would love any suggestions or tips you have!! Thanks!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Have the ducts cleaned it needs to be done every 5 years at least. Putting freezer boxes of baking soda in the cupboards after cleaning them with Mr. Clean or vinegar.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Like cigarette smoke...Pet smells get everywhere and are really hard to get out. You've already hit the big ones with flooring and paint. Be sure to do a coat of sealer/primer (Kilz) first. And yes, woodwork can absorb smells too. So if the cabinets appear to be older or the wood not well sealed...Well heck, not every sure what to do about them.

As for ducts and furnace. Stock up on filters and change them frequently. Also, schedule a duct cleaning with your local energy company (like CenterPoint). We did that and it cost maybe about $400 3 yrs ago.

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answers from Chicago on

You could rent an ozone generator. They work great. My cousin had a fire at her house and they had to use an ozone generator to get the smell out.



answers from Boston on

There's stuff you can get to wash the walls with before you paint. I can't remember what it's called, but a home improvement store should carry it. The first place my husband and I lived, we could literally see the tar from the old cigarette smoke dripping down the walls. Gross. Then prime before you paint to seal in the smell.

Before you go and remove the cabinets, try leaving a lot of open baking soda around to absorb the smell.

Good luck with the new house.



answers from Minneapolis on

We moved into an old house too and painted every surface including molding and ceilings. We threw out all the old doors and got new doors and re-did the bathrooms and kitchen. I know this is not an option for most people so these things might help... Zerorez carpet cleaning company also does air duct cleaning - that should help. Also, before you paint, prime everything with "KILZ" primer. IT seals odors, water stains, mold, etc. Yes, the cupboards will smell. If you can afford it, I'd get new cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms. Ikea has very cheap options. Also "affordable granite" now has affordable cabinet options too - I think they are called "affordable granite and cabinetry" now. Good luck.



answers from Minneapolis on

maybe having the ducts cleaned would help



answers from San Francisco on

You've got some good suggestions so far. Definately get the ducts cleaned and replace all air filters (air intake and the one at the furnace). You could try orange oil cleaner on the cabinets, it'L. get them nice and clean too. Once you rip up all the flooring clean the concrete with a bleach solution in the areas where you see pet stains on the carpet (maybe blue tape the areas as you pull the carpet up so you remember where they are). If you don't and lay down new carpet, you will still smell it a bit, not as bad but enough to annoy you. Take it from someone who found out about the trick after the new carpet was installed. If any of the baseboards are a little swollen due to urine/water damage, replace them as well. You'L. feel better knowing you got it all out. Congrats on your "steal" of a purchase. They take a little elbow grease but you can get a great deal on it making it well worth the purchase.



answers from Minneapolis on

we just got a house like that too, and after looking, not all duct cleaners are equal! it helped a TON to get them cleaned, but we went with centerpoint (could also just add bill to energy bill to space out payments that way) and for what they did, they were pretty cheap. They not only did the vacuum clean (most companies advertised cheap deal) they also did with the sweeper and such. I would make sure whoever you get to do it, make sure you use that option as it will go in and scrape out all the stuck on stuff inside the vents (hey, if you're gonna do it, might as well do it as best you can! :) ) really, it's pretty reasonable and did remedy a lot of smell issues, but more importantly it cleaned the air that was circulating... we also just replaced the carpet and are almost done painting. there was a lot of "kitchen smells" in our house, so the appliances and cupboards did all absorb the odors... still working on that part :) now that it's warming up a bit finally, we can start opening our windows....



answers from Washington DC on

My hubby and I bought a foreclosed home in October. The previous owners had 4 pit bulls and 3 cats!

Open the windows and get fresh air circulating. Use a citrus cleaner on the wood. Disinfect EVERYTHING!

When painting, you should take a fine sand paper and lightly go over the walls, then take a damp rag to get the dust off the walls. Use Kilz as a primer before painting.

The best thing to do is get a group of family/friends that are willing to help. I cleaned a room and then a friend or family member re-cleaned it. Then, before we actually moved things in, I wiped everything down with disinfecting wipes again.

We had a company come in to clean and disinfect the duct work. It cost less than $200.



answers from Minneapolis on




answers from Pittsburgh on

Ozone generators are great for getting rid of smells. Kilz would be good for the walls too.



answers from Minneapolis on

Make sure you have the ducts cleaned by a reputable company!



answers from Phoenix on

Try having the ducts cleaned and a sanitizer/deodorizer used. That might help with the smell. Also, they make paints with Arm & Hammer Baking Soda in them that is supposed to help keep smells at bay. Other than that and replacing all flooring, I'd just air it out as much as you possibly can. Good luck!

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