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Old 10-17-2010, 08:36 AM   #1
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Old Musty Smell

Our '71 Overlander has that old musty smell. Like a closet that hasn't been opened in 20 years smell. My husband says it's not so bad and that he can't smell it any more, but it drives me crazy when we first enter the trailer. It does get better the longer you are in there but I'm unsure if it's just my nose getting accustomed to it.

Here is some history:

the carpet is no more. We have a painted floor (oil based exterior grade). We did have to replace some sections of the floor in the front of the trailer.

new cushions and upholstery through out the trailer

every inch of the trailer (that can be reached without pulling out cabinets) was cleaned with orange oil and a black & decker battery operated scrub brush

no mold has been found, thus far, in the trailer

we found some indications of mice in the wheel wells on the door side and all that insulation has been ripped out.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:59 AM   #2
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Odors

The PO was a smoker so I used "Simple Green". Sprayed it on in small areas full strength and rinsed with clean water. Made a big difference.
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Old 10-17-2010, 10:34 AM   #3
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the likelihood of removing this odor totally is zero.

1. the 'signature' 4 the particular smell is now RECORDED into your hardwiring (brain)

so you will never 4 get it and can easily recall it with even 1-2 molecules.

some folks have better memory/recording/recall and others not so much.

in the same way hearing, vision, color perception or touch vary from person2person.

2. the odor is IN the wood and in the insulation and in the plastics and so on...

while fabric and foams are easy to replace and might remove 75% of the smell,

it is PART of the stream and without a shell off resto using all new materials and media blasting of frame/shell...

it will return when the humidity or heat or air circulation is right.
__________

new paint, fabric, foam, floors and so on help a lot and COVERup with newer smelly things, but...

yer brain has recorded the musty signature and will eventually find it again.
__________

lots of folks praise using an ozone generator and they are effective.

they work best on brand NEW strong odors, like fire smoke or spills or a recently dead critter...

but 'ozone-ing away' a 20-30-40 year smell is not gonna happen, not completely.

search using the OH word in titles only or any of the other key terms (sm'L, must'E, and so on)

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f168...eams-2085.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f46/...dor-12330.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f125...odor-1378.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f431...odor-4612.html

also search using the oHzone term and many threads will be found with a lot of "it worked for me" testimonials...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f431...ator-6484.html

a REAL o'z generator can NOT be used continuously/full time in an enclosed space without problems...

fabrics, plastics and others materials will breakdown when continuously exposed to Ozeee.

these gadgets are RENTABLE and if used for 2-3 days one can get wiff of effectiveness.

ymmv, the olfactory sense is 1 of our oldest and strongest and deepest brain functions...

IF the primary issue is being HIT with a wiff at entry, let someone else open the door.




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Old 10-17-2010, 10:49 AM   #4
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Ah, what'd I give to have "just" a musty old cottage or summer camp smell...

I started trying to kill smells in my '73 by carpet removal, painting the floor, pulling the bathroom and replacing the flooring there... trailer is now gutted with liners up and it still has a twinge of old formaldehyde - formic acid.

I found spills from galley ceiling lockers had run down under the kitchen counter top and found a spill of something in the pantry beside the refrigerator that was growing white crystals on the hidden edges of the shelves and aluminum frame.

Is the musty smell coming from the 'basement' where the fresh water tank is? A tiny leak in a vent tube or something long ago might've started a smell plus having a food spill nearby...

Okay, let's start some detective work looking for anywhere water vapor might've started regularly condensing out- ceiling lights and vents, have you dropped the lights and removed the screens and cleaned all those hidden areas?

Yes, there is a huge amount of surface area that is inaccessible. Have you cleaned or replaced the window screens? That is a high-surface area item. After reading your blog I'll ask did ya clean and paint behind/under the refrigerator?

I've read here an interior liner removal, change out of all the fiberglass insulation and washing the shell and hidden liner side is the only way to eliminate a mousy smell. I know, not what you needed to hear. Make 100% certain the vent stack pipes extend above the shell exterior and that the gaskets are in place is hyper-important. Andy claims the life of those rubber gaskets is only three years...

You can rent an ozone generator and leave the trailer closed up for a weekend with the thing on, open all lockers and access panels.
Ozone acts just like chlorine bleach so pull any dedicate fabrics, it will just brighten heavier ones. Having a small circulating fan on will help the ozone get to the hidden areas....
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Old 10-17-2010, 10:55 AM   #5
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A lot of the smell will be in the insulation that is behind the walls. the pink fiberglass will absorb the smells of the last 39 yrs.
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Old 10-17-2010, 11:21 AM   #6
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I agree with Wasagachris, much of that odor is mouse related in your insulation. We had it until we gutted the trailer, and was completely gone once we got the old insulation out. The belly wrap was the worst, both for mouse and odor. We had apparently had quite the mouse infestation in our trailer at one time prior to our buying it - probably many years old as she had been neglected for many years before the PO bought her and started redoing some things. We even found a snake skin in the hot water heater!
That said, if it's not in your plans to do a gut job, you might want to try something on the ozone generator idea.

Kay
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Old 10-17-2010, 11:23 AM   #7
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Oh, and by the way, you might want to check all your propane connections. We had an odor in one of our trailers that I swore was dead mouse, and turned out to be a propane leak at the stove. Took awhile to track it down, until we got hold of a gas sniffer....

Kay
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2airishuman View Post

1. the 'signature' 4 the particular smell is now RECORDED into your hardwiring (brain)

so you will never 4 get it and can easily recall it with even 1-2 molecules.

some folks have better memory/recording/recall and others not so much.

yer brain has recorded the musty signature and will eventually find it again.
__________

ymmv, the olfactory sense is 1 of our oldest and strongest and deepest brain functions...

IF the primary issue is being HIT with a wiff at entry, let someone else open the door.
So what you are saying is that if my sense of smell is particularly strong (and it can be) that even 1-2 molecules can call up the same strength of the smell?
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wabbiteer View Post
Ah, what'd I give to have "just" a musty old cottage or summer camp smell...

I started trying to kill smells in my '73 by carpet removal, painting the floor, pulling the bathroom and replacing the flooring there... trailer is now gutted with liners up and it still has a twinge of old formaldehyde - formic acid.

I found spills from galley ceiling lockers had run down under the kitchen counter top and found a spill of something in the pantry beside the refrigerator that was growing white crystals on the hidden edges of the shelves and aluminum frame.

Is the musty smell coming from the 'basement' where the fresh water tank is? A tiny leak in a vent tube or something long ago might've started a smell plus having a food spill nearby...

Okay, let's start some detective work looking for anywhere water vapor might've started regularly condensing out- ceiling lights and vents, have you dropped the lights and removed the screens and cleaned all those hidden areas?

Yes, there is a huge amount of surface area that is inaccessible. Have you cleaned or replaced the window screens? That is a high-surface area item. After reading your blog I'll ask did ya clean and paint behind/under the refrigerator?

I've read here an interior liner removal, change out of all the fiberglass insulation and washing the shell and hidden liner side is the only way to eliminate a mousy smell. I know, not what you needed to hear. Make 100% certain the vent stack pipes extend above the shell exterior and that the gaskets are in place is hyper-important. Andy claims the life of those rubber gaskets is only three years...

You can rent an ozone generator and leave the trailer closed up for a weekend with the thing on, open all lockers and access panels.
Ozone acts just like chlorine bleach so pull any dedicate fabrics, it will just brighten heavier ones. Having a small circulating fan on will help the ozone get to the hidden areas....
Cottage smell is the perfect analogy.
We painted the floors under the gaucho, in the closet (shelves and floor), under the fridge (had to get a new one anyway), the shelves in the pantry. The only thing not painted was under the sink (nothing under there to paint) and the upper cabinets.
As for the rest, I am going to have to get my DH to check out the thread. he has a better idea of what's been done and where.
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Old 10-17-2010, 01:55 PM   #10
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We have that PEAK 03 Air purifier, and you better leave if you don't want to inhale ions. And they do bleach the air and just about everything else including bacteria, you name it. But it does leave the house smelling good and fresh.
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Old 10-17-2010, 02:58 PM   #11
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Will have to live with the odor until next summer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minno View Post
I agree with Wasagachris, much of that odor is mouse related in your insulation. We had it until we gutted the trailer, and was completely gone once we got the old insulation out. The belly wrap was the worst, both for mouse and odor. We had apparently had quite the mouse infestation in our trailer at one time prior to our buying it - probably many years old as she had been neglected for many years before the PO bought her and started redoing some things. We even found a snake skin in the hot water heater!
That said, if it's not in your plans to do a gut job, you might want to try something on the ozone generator idea.

Kay
If that's the case, we(being me) will have to deal with the odor until next summer. We have 3 big trips lined up in the next 5 months. Turkey-day, Christmas and Spring break are all booked. We need the trailer usable for all of these. Not to mention finding a space DH can do that work (our driveway's angle is not conductive for such work).

I think I'll try the smaller, easier to accomplish ideas and hope that it helps with the smell. If they don't work, then I'll move on to the bigger fixes....
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:04 PM   #12
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According to DH, we have not cleaned all the screens. The screens over the actual windows are going to be replaced. The ones he tried to clean broke. He is going to check the exterior vent seals someday soon.
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Old 10-17-2010, 03:06 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minno View Post
Oh, and by the way, you might want to check all your propane connections. We had an odor in one of our trailers that I swore was dead mouse, and turned out to be a propane leak at the stove. Took awhile to track it down, until we got hold of a gas sniffer....

Kay
We have propane leak detectors...I am assuming that it will detect a leak.. we also had our local service guy check the LP system completely.
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Old 10-17-2010, 04:37 PM   #14
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Yeah, I wouldn't tackle the big things until I had exhausted all the others first, either! We just happened to be gutting ours anyway, but I do know how that smell can permeate everything! I'm glad the propane system is good. That one is more of a long shot when you describe the smell as "musty", but you can't be too careful with it either.

Kay
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