When you step into a home that has been vacant for a while, one of the first things you'll probably notice is that the home smells. Often, when a home is vacant, humidity levels are left uncontrolled, which results in a musty odor. Some insects, and possibly even rodents, may have moved in as well, leaving their odors behind. So how can you get that previously vacant home smelling nice again? Here are four strategies to start with.
1. Run a Dehumidifier
If the home does not already have a dehumidifier, just buy a portable one and plug it in. These appliances extract extra moisture from the air, depositing it into a bucket or tank that you can empty every day or every few days. Since many of the odors in vacant homes are related to moisture and the resulting mold growth, getting moisture under control will help the space smell fresher.
2. Have the Carpet Cleaned
Carpet grabs onto odors like no other surface! If the air was moist, there may be some mold or mildew in the carpet, and these substances are certainly smelly. Insect and rodent droppings can also make carpets smell. If the old homeowner had pets, there could be some pet accidents that were never cleaned up and that have been percolating in the carpet ever since. Carpet cleaning services in your area can remove all of these contaminants from the carpet, leaving it smelling much fresher. Home carpet shampooing is not a suitable replacement; the machines you can buy at a home goods store do not remove as much moisture from the carpet, so they might actually make odors worse in an already-moist home.
3. Run the HVAC System With a New Filter
Even if you don't need to run the air conditioner or heater for temperature-regulating purposes, it's a good idea to pop a new filter into the system and run the central fan for a while. The filter will catch a lot of mold spores, dust particles, and insect droppings that have been floating through the air, leaving the home smelling fresher.
4. Prime and Paint Badly Stained Walls
If there area any walls that are stained, perhaps due to cigarette smoke or water damage, those walls could be giving off odors. Paint them with an oil-based primer. This will trap the stinky substances inside the walls. Then, finish the walls off with a fresh coat of paint.