Years of smoking cigarettes or cigars in a home can lead to more than a deeply embedded smell that can be very tough to get rid of. The nicotine cigarettes contain can also leave a yellowish-brown film on walls, ceilings, furniture, and other household items. Add to that the cancer-causing compounds tobacco products contain, and it’s clear to see why removing their odor and residue is essential to a healthy home.
Central Florida Restoration Solutions specializes in smoke damage remediation and restoration services. Our team can help you get rid of the residual odor and other damage left behind by someone else’s old habits, so you and your house can breathe easily again.
Different Types of Smoke Damage
When people hear the phrase “smoke damage,” they typically think about the aftereffects of a house fire. But tobacco smoke that’s baked into household surfaces is a serious problem that requires the skills and specialized tools a professional restoration company brings to the table.
In fact, there are four types of smoke damage:
- Wet smoke. Wet smoke comes from slow-burning fires and low heat and is easy to identify because of the smell that lingers once a fire is extinguished. Thick and black, it leaves behind a sticky residue on multiple surfaces that’s difficult to clean as it tends to smear.
- Dry smoke. The most common kind of housefire is fast-burning and high-temperature. While it’s easier to clean up than wet smoke, you might notice a smoke smell still lingers even after you clean everything. That’s because dry smoke makes its way into a home’s porous surfaces and tiniest cracks, a clean-up task best left to smoke mitigation experts.
- Oil and fuel residue. Less common than wet and dry smoke, this kind of smoke damage comes from fires that start from a fuel source or something flammable. Its residue is dense and sticky and difficult to clean, as is removing its foul odor from fabrics.
- Protein residue. The result of organic material like chicken and meat fats and oils, protein residue is difficult to see but can leave permanent discoloration on walls and ceilings. It also has a strong smell that can linger for a long time.
A fifth type of smoke, complex fire smoke, leaves a greasy yellow residue from the burning of natural and synthetic materials.
Each type of smoke damage requires different cleaning approaches and techniques, which can include:
- A combination of the three
Whatever type of smoke damage your house incurs, the specialists at CFRS will assess the damage and then discuss the best course of action with you. And once the job’s complete, there’ll be no trace of smoke damage—only the memories!
The Dangers of Third-Hand Smoke
By now, most people are aware of the dangers associated with smoking and second-hand smoke. But fewer understand that the toxic chemicals contained in third-hand smoke stay on surfaces long after the first or secondhand smoke clears.
Third-hand residual or leftover smoke sticks to carpets, draperies, walls, and other surfaces and can harm a person’s body just like smoking and second-hand smoke do. While research continues on the subject, there are many things scientists already know.
- Third-hand smoke and cancer – Researchers continue to look at third-hand smoke as a cause behind some puzzling lung cancer cases that aren’t caused by first or second-hand smoking.
- DNA damage – A study conducted by the University of California Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program found that third-hand smoke exposure may cause damage and breaks in human DNA, which can increase the risk of certain diseases.
- Smoke residue and carcinogens – When someone smokes in a room, toxic chemicals like nicotine cling to the walls, upholstery, carpets, and other surfaces. The University of California study found that when nicotine reacts with the air’s nitrous acid, it forms carcinogens.
While third-hand smoke is unhealthy for everyone, children are considered most at-risk from its effects. Scientists believe that it’s because:
- They’re exposed to more surfaces like the floor and other objects in the house.
- Very young children frequently touch household surfaces/objects and then put their hands in their mouths, increasing their exposure to toxic chemicals.
Everyone agrees that cleaning up third-hand smoke is difficult, particularly when it builds up over time and remains on surfaces for years. It resists usual cleaning methods, and you can’t simply open the windows and use fans to air it out of the house. In many cases, carpets must be replaced, walls repainted, and ventilation systems cleaned.
Signs You’ve Inherited a Smoker’s House
Seller’s property disclosure forms aren’t required under Florida law, but sellers must disclose any significant property defects that might not be easily visible to a buyer. Fortunately, most people know immediately when walking into a house that a smoker lives or lived there. A smoky smell is an obvious sign, as is a strong smell of air fresheners, Febreze, or other fragrances unsuccessfully trying to mask the smoke’s odor. And while it’s true a fresh coat of paint on the walls and ceilings will mask cigarette odors, the effect is short-lived.
Besides asking the seller’s real estate agent if a smoker lives there, here’s what you can do and look for:
- Are the windows and doors fully open every time you view the house?
- Lean in and sniff the drapes and upholstered furniture in the house, and do the same with closets and the clothes hanging in them.
- Tilt a couple of pictures or mirrors to see if the wall area surrounding them is slightly stained yellow or brown.
- If there are major pieces of electronics in the house, look behind them if possible, as smoke particles drawn to the fans will leave dark stains on carpets, floors, or furniture.
- Are there yellow or brown stains inside lamps and light fixtures?
- Many smokers don’t smoke in the main house but do step into the garage to indulge their habit. Check for signs of smoke and smoke damage here, even if the rest of the house seems clean and smoke-free.
Smokers often take many “easy” steps to eliminate the smell of smoke in their houses. They scrub walls, floors, and ceilings, replace foul-smelling curtains and carpets, and repaint multiple surfaces. But one area they typically forget to address is the master bathroom, where sticky yellow-brown drips can sweat through the paint on the walls for years. Look for spots around doorframes and in corners that were likely cleaned less vigorously.
With all the attendant dangers, should you even consider moving into a smoker’s former house? The good news is that a home with a strong smell of stale cigarettes can be had at a price up to 30% less than other nearby properties. But you’ll also need to weigh the health risks and what’s involved in getting rid of the cigarette smell. That’s where a qualified tobacco smoke clean-up professional like CFRS can help.
Short-Term Cigarette Odor Removal Solutions
If you prefer to try and remove smoking odors in your house yourself, here are some things to try.
- Install an air purifier.
- Sprinkle baking soda on the carpets to absorb bad smells. Leave on overnight and then vacuum the next day.
- Place saucers of white vinegar, ground coffee, activated charcoal, orange peels, or pineapple slices around the house to try and neutralize the smell.
- Bring in some air-purifying plants which can absorb over 85% of indoor pollutants.
- Use scented or non-scented candles.
Keep in mind, though, that if there’s been long-term smoke damage to the house, removing the odor can be a time-consuming and complicated process. You’ll save time, money, and frustration by calling in a professional smoke remediation specialist to remove the smell permanently.
The Tobacco Smoke Damage Restoration Process
One of the most challenging problems when cleaning nicotine-damaged objects is that it’s seldom, if ever, only on the surface. Nicotine molecules are so tiny that they can work their way into almost every material or object in a room. To clean it away permanently, it must be removed from the inside of each exposed surface. In other words, simply spraying and wiping doesn’t remove the odor.
Materials most susceptible to tobacco smoke are fabrics, mats, wallpaper, lampshades, unsealed wood, sheetrock, plaster, and wallboard. Less affected are sealed wood, stone, plastics, and steel. “Popcorn” ceiling and ceiling tiles generally cannot be cleared of a tobacco odor.
Finally, nicotine particles also get trapped in vents and air handling systems that can’t be cleaned with conventional methods.
It should be clear by now that the only way to remove the odor from a smoker’s house is to eliminate the nicotine!
A typical nicotine removal and cleaning process includes:
- Removing any fabrics from each room.
- Washing the walls and surfaces with water and a specialized cleaning detergent that causes the nicotine to “bleed out.” This step might need to be done multiple times.
- Running an ozone generator to eliminate residual odors.
- When necessary, applying a sealer to trap any remaining nicotine molecules and their odor inside the walls.
Clean Up Years of Tobacco Odor and Residue
If you’ve inherited a Central Florida house that’s been exposed to tobacco smoke for many years, the skilled team at CFRS can help restore your home and eliminate the tobacco smoke odor for good.
Our thorough process includes an inspection of each room in your house and tests to determine the extent of any smoke damage. We also inspect structural elements like flooring and framing to assess their condition. Only then do we develop a plan for restoring your home to its previously fresh condition. We also advise you if any major repairs are needed, such as drywall and carpet replacement or painting.
Completely ridding a home of nicotine odors can be a complex project. How long the process takes varies depending on the size of your home and the extent of the smoke damage. No matter how long it takes, one thing’s for sure: working with a professional smoke damage restoration company ensures damage is quickly assessed and a customized plan is devised to ensure your Central Florida house is completely clear of nicotine-related damages.
CFRS is Central Florida’s most trusted smoke damage clean-up and restoration company. When you hire us, we promise to make the odor removal process as stress-free as possible. You can always count on our team to provide speedy service that uses every modern tool and technique available to lessen existing damage, limit further damage, and reduce costs.
In addition to smoke damage services, we’re also the region’s #1 source for water damage, fire damage, and mold damage restoration services. And our 24/7 emergency services ensure your smoke, fire, water, or mold issues are dealt with quickly and professionally and with the least disruption to your home and life. To learn more about all the restoration services we offer, contact CFRS today.