indoor air quality outdoor source

Earlier this year, we had a customer call to request a mold and indoor air quality inspection for one of her rental properties. The tenants had complained of an unpleasant odor inside the home, initially describing the smell as moldy and musty.

We began with a visual inspection of the home and identified several potential sources of odors. But the tenants said none of these were what they were smelling.

Upon further questioning, they described the odor as a chemical odor, like paint thinner, rather than a moldy or musty odor. They also said they really only smelled the odor when they first walked into the home. After a thorough inspection, we couldn’t identify a source inside the home that would account for a chemical odor.

Finding the Source

We stepped outside to get some fresh air when all of the sudden, we caught a whiff of a chemical odor like paint thinner. We immediately looked around to see where the odor might be coming from and spotted a restaurant just up the block. We walked up the street to find a fenced in area behind the restaurant that appeared to be a storage and/or processing area for used cooking oil. Strangely enough, the odor coming from inside the fence smelled just like paint thinner. The restaurant had only been open for about a month or two, which correlated with the first time the tenants noticed the odor.

When the wind blew just right, the odor was carried down the hill and settled under the covered porch at the front door. Every time the tenants would come home and open the front door, the smelly air was being sucked into the home, causing them to think the odor was coming from inside.

In this case, what the tenants and property owner thought was an indoor air quality problem was really from an outdoor source. The tenants and property owner were relieved that the odor was not a result of a problem inside the home that could be negatively impacting their health. While there is nothing they can do about the outdoor odor, we were able to give them peace of mind about its source.

How Branch Environmental Can Help

What you may perceive as an indoor air quality problem may be coming from elsewhere, which is an important distinction to make! Do you smell or see something inside or outside your home that you think may be negatively impacting your indoor air quality and health? If so, call us today to set up an indoor air quality inspection. We have the knowledge and experience needed to get to the bottom of your indoor air quality problems.