One of the most complex services we offer is odor investigation. If you have a strange odor and you gave up trying to figure it out yourself, we are here to help. Call Indoor Science at (312) 920-9393 to discuss our odor testing services (or if you are from the UK, odour testing services!)
What is that odor?
Our consultants have an uncanny ability to identify offending odors. Solving odor problems involves some advanced tools and some simple ones. The most important tool is the human nose, but it certainly has limitations. Typically, people call our company when they have failed to identify it just by the sense of smell. Odors can be frustrating to find and you may need a little help with odor testing.
Identify a pattern before odor testing
Indoor Science will better be able to solve your odor problem if you can identify the odor’s pattern ahead of time. Perhaps the odor is strongest in the morning, or on a rainy day, or maybe a sunny day. Each of those is a clue to the underlying cause. We will also inquire about the frequency of the odor. Is the odor intermittent or is it the same strength throughout the day? Identifying a pattern can take time, but it is an important step in odor identification. We may recommend keeping a log of odor strength and contributing factors such as the operation of the HVAC system or weather outside. It is also important to map out areas in the space where the odor is strong and faint.
Characterizing the Odor
One person’s foul odor is another’s fragrance. Odors are very subjective and we often lack words in our vocabulary to properly characterize odors. Here are some words that may help you better describe to us the odor you are experiencing:
- Rotten egg
- Natural gas (mercaptans)
- Dirty socks
- Stale air
- Body odor
- Sewer gas
- Something burning
The better you can characterize the odor, the better we can hunt down the source during our odor investigation. It is also helpful to have a number of people try to characterize the odor and describe its strength.
How do we perform odor testing?
Each odor is unique, so we will start by asking you questions about the nature of the odor. We’ll use smoke pencils, combustible gas meters, photoionization detectors, manometers, and multi-gas detectors to name a few. With intermittent odors, we may depressurize the space or try other methods to create a worst-case scenario.
Because we have responded to so many odor complaints, we can often notice the odor immediately, without needing to do any complex tests! We may also use references such as the AIHA Odor Thresholds book to better focus our search. You can read more about identifying odors in our blog post, “What is that terrible odor?”