Tuesday, February 10, 2009

That "Odd" Smell

Our Houston house finally has renters!  That is a huge relief for us.  It has been touch and go since September 1, first trying to offer the house for sale, and then the end of October to begin locating a good renter.  

Back in July when Tom accepted his current job in Canada, we were in Peru, and had only two months before made arrangments for our daughters to continue living in our Houston home with a room mate.  That all changed quickly, and their new room mate happily reunited with her own parents.  We located an apartment close to their campus for the girls to rent the first of September.

The end of August, just prior to Tom leaving to begin his new post, we signed papers to sell our home.   Of course, this all happened prior to the Sept 9 weekend economic meltdown!    I stayed with the kids, and kept the house show-ready, and worked on getting us ready to move to Canada.   My Houston friends will definitely recall that in between we all experienced the winds of fury with Hurricane Ike.

One of the realtors who showed the house remarked on their showing report that the house "reeked, and my client refused to look beyond the front door."  My feelings were definitely hurt since I do pride myself on keeping a clean home.  Several things went through our minds, including how much neglect (unintentional, but neglect nonetheless) happened the previous year when we moved to Peru and left the care of the house to our daughters.  

Before we made the move north in October we terminated our "to sell" contract, and signed with a new realtor to find renters for us.  Slowly, more folks came to look, but none decided in favor of renting the house.  Fortunately a family with similar relocation circumstances contacted our realtor in hopes we would be amenable to their own pets.   

Then, come the first of the new year, with various delays for the tenants, we are told there was an "odd odor" and they were hesitant to move forward with the deal.  Yikes!  So, in desperation our realtor actually got down on his hands and knees to see if he could determine the cause.   The carpets upstairs had been professionally cleaned, but still had a very, very faint animal scent.  But that wasn't the "smell."  Then several possibilities were considered.  Could it have been the resin from the replaced hardwood floors?  Could it be mold?  How about unflushed drains?  A huge variety of ideas were thought of, investigated, and discarded.   At one point the realtor's wife brought a restoration person in to see if he could detect what it was, and see if he knew how we could solve the problem.   He assured her it wasn't any of what we thought it might be.  

As they walked in, the restoration tech asked if there had been a fire in the house.  She said, no, not her knowledge, so he didn't have any ideas.  Fortunately once she returned home and as she readied her oven to clean she was struck by the exact same smell.  At this point she called me, and I said, yes!  

Right after we returned from Houston to Lima last June, our girls experienced a fire in the oven of the kitchen range!  The house wasn't damaged, and other than a bit of heart pounding until the electricity could be turned off the girls were okay, too.  It was summarily replaced and since they had no visible damage outside the range, so we didn't think much more about it.  But, this was the source of "that smell."  The restoration company set up an ozone machine on a Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday morning our realtor said the house smelled wonderfully fresh!  I am amazed that even for a shortlived, contained fire, how it could rapidly permeate the house.  

The good ending is that our renters went through with the final deposits, and are now beginning to move south.  We hope they enjoy our neighborhood as much as we did.  I know they'll enjoy the Houston springtime! 

Please note: using an ozone machine is best left up to professionals.  A good review of various air filter options can be found at Dr. Mercola's website.

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