Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 13 of 24
  1. #1

    Can't get rid of "new house" smell

    We built a 3500 s.f. home about three years ago and are having problems with the indoor air quality. It was especially bad in the closets, which were unpainted textured drywall. We have since painted the closets which seems to have helped some, but not entirely.

    My big concern now is the room that my daughter used to sleep in (we have moved her to another bedroom). It has a very distinct "new house" odor, although as I've said the house is now three years old. It even seems to be getting worse!

    We had an Indoor Air Quality inspector out and tests showed nothing in any unusual quantity. The inspector said that he felt the odor may actually be coming from the basement, because our ductwork was poorly installed, with many gaps. He thinks the furnace is sucking air from the basement, thereby causing a negative pressure and sucking in even more bad odors. The odor has a very strong chemical smell. It does NOT smell like mold and tests on the closet drywall proved that it is very dry.

    He proposes sealing all the gaps in the ductwork, "balancing the system," and installing two (we have two furnaces) air-to-air heat exchangers.

    Have any of you encountered a similar situation and do you feel that he may have hit upon the solution? The estimate is $12,000 which I would be more than willing to spend if it actually solves the problem, however I'm just not sure that it will. BTW, the inspector said that he has never seen a house built as tightly as ours.

    I do not understand why one room and the closets have such a marked increase in the odor. Wouldn't it affect every room the same?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Personally, I wonder if it is the cellulose insulation causing the odor. I read in another post that someone had recessed lighting which was not sealed and was drawing in the cellulose insulation from the attic.

    Betty
    Last edited by BettyCv; 06-18-2007 at 09:11 PM. Reason: typo

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    997
    Wow the inspecter said unit in the basement is causing negative pressure! Thats a first for me! unless you have something way out their it can't happen. Id Go with an HRV to help with the tight home.

  3. #3
    I had problems with negative pressure in my home too.

    I had an energy audit performed where a special tech performed a blower door test, pressure pan test, and used a manometer to provide pressure readings for each room. I would recommend such a test and post your results on here...

    I was surprised to find my problem was only present when bedroom doors were closed. I learned all my bedrooms should have either a jump duct or dedicated returns. When doors are closed the negative pressure will suck air from wherever it can which in your case could be from the basement or a smelly area? Do you have an Electronic Air Cleaner or any air cleaning devices in the home as many generate ozone which has a smell too?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    8
    (Opinion) The new house smell is most likely formaldehyde, present in particle board which many new homes use for interior floor joists etc. The off gassing gets worse with more humidity. It may never subside. Return air paths that just use the joists instead of metal ducts may be a contributor in circulating this odor. The use of this product is cheap for builders but in my opinion will be pegged as a major IAQ impacter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    wedged in freezer shelf
    Posts
    6,129
    Are there air supplies in the closets? Does the basement smell as bad as the smelly areas? Is the room and closets part of the exterior wall?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Nevada
    Posts
    1,815
    Quote Originally Posted by BettyCv View Post
    We built a 3500 s.f. home about three years ago and are having problems with the indoor air quality. It was especially bad in the closets, which were unpainted textured drywall. We have since painted the closets which seems to have helped some, but not entirely.

    My big concern now is the room that my daughter used to sleep in (we have moved her to another bedroom). It has a very distinct "new house" odor, although as I've said the house is now three years old. It even seems to be getting worse!

    We had an Indoor Air Quality inspector out and tests showed nothing in any unusual quantity. The inspector said that he felt the odor may actually be coming from the basement, because our ductwork was poorly installed, with many gaps. He thinks the furnace is sucking air from the basement, thereby causing a negative pressure and sucking in even more bad odors. The odor has a very strong chemical smell. It does NOT smell like mold and tests on the closet drywall proved that it is very dry.

    He proposes sealing all the gaps in the ductwork, "balancing the system," and installing two (we have two furnaces) air-to-air heat exchangers.

    Have any of you encountered a similar situation and do you feel that he may have hit upon the solution? The estimate is $12,000 which I would be more than willing to spend if it actually solves the problem, however I'm just not sure that it will. BTW, the inspector said that he has never seen a house built as tightly as ours.

    I do not understand why one room and the closets have such a marked increase in the odor. Wouldn't it affect every room the same?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Personally, I wonder if it is the cellulose insulation causing the odor. I read in another post that someone had recessed lighting which was not sealed and was drawing in the cellulose insulation from the attic.

    Betty
    Try lots of fresh air . Get several big fans open all your windows/doors and let it go all day. You may have to do it for a few days but it will be chaeaper than 12K. I'd get the ducts fixed ,but the heat exchangers are an option. Do you have outside air coming into the furnaces?
    Quote
    “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own." Scott Adams

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
    Albert Einstein

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    WI
    Posts
    1,094
    Quote Originally Posted by drk View Post
    Wow the inspecter said unit in the basement is causing negative pressure! Thats a first for me! unless you have something way out their it can't happen. Id Go with an HRV to help with the tight home.
    It can and does happen. This is more common than you think. Most (almost all) duct systems in new construction homes in my area are done by "rule of thumb" way of duct sizing. These homes end up with less return air than the system needs and the return ducts are not sealed real well, if at all. Often, the installers try to do the right thing by sealing the ductwork, but by using the joist spaces for return ducts makes it very difficult to seal up all the leaks. The furnace will try to get return air from wherever it can, so it ends up drawing air from the basement. This brings the basement in to a negitive pressure. If the home has non sealed combustion appliances, the chimney now becomes a make up air duct. I don't have to tell you what that can cause. Because the basement is in a negative pressure, the rest of the house can be in a positive pressure. In extreme cases, the air in the upper floors (which are now in a positive pressure) can force it's way in to the walls through any gaps in the vapor barrier. The warm humid air going in to a cold wall is recipe for mold. This is why it is extremely important to size and seal duct systems correctly.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    WI
    Posts
    1,094
    Quote Originally Posted by hvacbear View Post
    Try lots of fresh air . Get several big fans open all your windows/doors and let it go all day. You may have to do it for a few days but it will be chaeaper than 12K. I'd get the ducts fixed ,but the heat exchangers are an option. Do you have outside air coming into the furnaces?
    This may not be a bad idea when the weather is mild, but it is not a permanent solution. Soon as the windows are closed, the smell will come back. ERV/HRV's are the best option to dillute the voc's, odor, CO2, or whatever were dealing with in a tight home.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,062
    You need 50-100 cfm of fresh air when the home is occupied to purge indoor pollutants and renew oxygen. A merv +10air filter on your heating/cooling system to keep the equipment clean. Maintain <50%RH during the damp time of the year to prevent mold/dust mite growth.
    You have several exhaust devices, bath fans, clothes drier, kitchen hood, and water heater/furnace in your home. These devices need make-up air to operate without causing negative pressure. The climate where you live determines the best method meeting your needs. In dry, moderate climates a fresh make-up air inlet on VS blower system works well. Using an ERV/HRV save $50 per year and does nothing to prevent negative pressure on the home when the exhaust devices operate???
    Green grass climates are best served by a ventilating dehumidifier. VD filter the fresh air, blend the fresh with the house air, remove moisture when needed, and circulate the conditioned throughout the home.
    Cold climates/high energy regions should use saving $200 per year. They will also need supplemental dehumidification for the rainy cool weather. Where do you live? Dehu TB

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Nevada
    Posts
    1,815
    Quote Originally Posted by DesMech View Post
    This may not be a bad idea when the weather is mild, but it is not a permanent solution. Soon as the windows are closed, the smell will come back. ERV/HRV's are the best option to dillute the voc's, odor, CO2, or whatever were dealing with in a tight home.
    The ERV will help and if the house is very tight it might be a good IAQ move anyway. If we have VOC's then eventaully the smell will go away with enough dilution (like new car smell goes away). So if IAQ is ok after a simple purge why spend the extra 12K if it is not needed?
    Quote
    “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own." Scott Adams

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
    Albert Einstein

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Madison, WI/Cape Coral, FL
    Posts
    6,062
    Quote Originally Posted by hvacbear View Post
    The ERV will help and if the house is very tight it might be a good IAQ move anyway. If we have VOC's then eventaully the smell will go away with enough dilution (like new car smell goes away). So if IAQ is ok after a simple purge why spend the extra 12K if it is not needed?
    Homes need more than a single purge to have good IAQ. An air change every 4 hours when occupied is minimum. You must a young bear. Take some advice from an old bear. Dehu TB

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Nevada
    Posts
    1,815
    Quote Originally Posted by teddy bear View Post
    Homes need more than a single purge to have good IAQ. An air change every 4 hours when occupied is minimum. You must a young bear. Take some advice from an old bear. Dehu TB
    I agree.


    In the 2001 ASHRAE fundamentals it refrences ASHRAE 62 and states " ASHRAE standard 62 gives ventilation requirements for houses, essentially .35 ACH With at least 15 CFM per occupant." Typically that was accouted for in leakage etc. a very tight house will need ventilation. It is still a wise choice to purge some first because VOC's do not degrade in a linear fashion.
    Quote
    “Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own." Scott Adams

    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
    Albert Einstein

  13. #13

    IAQ. I've got rid of all types of oders

    I use to rent the technology to get rid of mold, before I knew I could own and then sell them. Had one guy who couldn't use his custom van cause meat spoiled in it. He tore out all the carpeting to no avail. He still couldn't use it a month later. Put my machine in there and over night was able to use it. The Pentagon used our machines after 911 to get the jet fuel and smoke smell out. I'm sure it will take care of your problem. You can check out my web site www.freshairliving.com/tim use the password "guest" and or call me at 484-802-6969. Good Luck

    Tim McFarland

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Comfortech Show Promo Image

Related Forums

Plumbing Talks | Contractor Magazine
Forums | Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) Magazine
Comfortech365 Virtual Event