Eliminating skunk odors

Q.  A skunk let go in our backyard and the odor is horrendous. We have tried a variety of deodorizers without success. Do you know of a treatment we can use that will be completely effective?

A. The most effective treatment I know of is Nok-Out, which, as regular readers know, I have found effective in treating a wide range of odors.

Some years ago, a skunk decided to set house under the porch of a house shared by several friends, including a relative. She called me in great distress, as the odor permeated her bedroom, which was next to the porch. I sent her a gallon of Nok-Out. She sprayed the entire area under the porch and the odor instantly vanished for good.

You can buy Nok-Out on the Web site www.nokout.com. At the time of this writing, you can save by ordering with the coupon on the right side of this page and using the coupon code HDM. Nok-Out is a complete deodorizer, used in many industrial and residential applications. I haven’t heard or experienced a single case of failure with it.

Sewer smells come from floor drain

Q. There has been a very unpleasant, sewer-like odor coming from the floor drain in my utility room. We have a 19-year-old tri-level with a basement (4 levels total), and the utility room is one level up from the basement. This drain runs from the utility room, underneath the garage floor, through the basement, then out the basement side wall.

Nothing ever drains into this drain, so the water just sits in the trap and has become very dark brown-grey and mucky looking. Sometimes there are small pieces of debris floating in there (don’t know what it is).

I poured a quart of hydrogen peroxide down the drain, allowed it to sit overnight, and flushed with water. After repeating this process the next day, the water in the trap was a nice clear color and the smell was gone. By the way, the water drains very freely down the drain; there does not appear to be any blockage.

However, after about one week, the smell is starting to come back and the water is starting to look brownish again. My questions are as follows:

  1.     Any idea what could be causing this odor? (it’s not a dry trap; there’s always water in it, albeit smelly and brown).  My theory is that the drainpipes from my toilet(s) might be tied into this pipe, and perhaps this part of the pipe has a “negative” slope, (due to settling?), and some of the toilet waste is sitting at that end of the drain pipe (in the utility room). In other words, water and some partial waste is sitting in the trap as well as in that run of the pipe.
  2.    Do you have any “preventive maintenance” recommendations to keep my drains (tubs, showers, sinks, etc) nice and clean, and odor-free?

Fortunately the only one that smells is the drain in the utility room, but I would like to “stay ahead of the game” with the other drains. I was thinking about getting a plumber to perform a video inspection and perhaps determine what the problem is, but I would really appreciate any input you might have.

A.    I doubt that the smelly and dark-colored water is from the toilets; if it were, you would see some gurgling when the toilets are flushed, among other problems. Any water standing for a long time in a trap is likely to turn a dark color from the rusting of the cast iron trap – and to have floating scale, and start smelling.

Inflatable Pipe Plug
Inflatable Pipe Plug

If this trap is not used and you have never had a problem with leakage from your washing machine, you may want to consider getting an expandable ball-shaped plug that plumbers use to block sewer gases from coming out; it won’t change the color of the water in the trap but it will block the smell. Buy one in a hardware or plumbing supply store. In case of need, it is very easy to deflate it and remove it.

Having your pipes videoed seems somewhat drastic under the circumstances; the problem does not seem to be that serious. The best preventive measure I know of to keep drains open and sweet smelling (if there is such a thing) is to pour a solution made of hot water and Super Washing Soda in the drains on a regular basis; follow instructions on the side of the package.

Eliminating the odor of wood smoke

Q.    Three weeks ago we had a problem with our wood furnace and the cellar was completely engulfed with very strong smoke. We have tried many products to try and get the smell out of the cellar but to no avail. Can you suggest something we can use to eliminate the pungent smell of smoke?

A.    Wood smoke, like cigarette smoke, is very hard to get rid of. It penetrates all porous surfaces. You will have to wash all accessible surfaces with a detergent. If you have a warm air heating system, you may also have to have the ducts cleaned by a specialist.

Once this is done, try using Nok-Out in one of their foggers. You can order it online at www.nokout.com. It’s a very effective odor killer, which I have used a number of times and often recommend for these difficult situations.

Rotten wood under addition causes odors

Q. We have a three-season room attached to our house that has had a smell for some time. We are in the process of putting in new windows and trying to find the source of the smell.
We tore down the wall under the window down to the floor and found several areas of rotten wood. We have treated these areas for mold and the wood will be replaced when the windows are put in.

The smell is still present and we hope that it will go away when the wood is replaced. But we still wonder; if that does not solve the problem, where do we go to get rid of it?

A.    The smell is likely to disappear when all the rotten wood is removed and replaced with new wood. But to be sure, you may want to get Nok-Out: www.nokout.com, and spray the affected areas with it.

Nok-Out is a clear liquid that is very effective at killing all odors. It is not an odor-hiding product, as many deodorizers are, but an eliminator. It is used in all types of applications, including morgues and abattoirs. We have used it several times with great success, so I recommend it in most cases involving stubborn odors.

Cats mark territory, leave odor

Q.    I enjoy reading your column every week.

We have a problem with cats marking their territory around our home. We’ve not had this problem until recently. The neighborhood has acquired several mature cats who wander in our yard on a daily basis. We have two altered male cats (indoor only). The influx of “challengers” has created quite a problem.

Our door is an unpainted, but stained, wooden door. It’s the outside cats’ favorite marking spot and the inside cats’ point of retaliation. We have a product (Stink Free*) that works well on the painted surfaces. But, we surmise, the wood is penetrated with odor.

Do you know of product that will clean the wood deeper than the surface? Would sealing the door now–just seal in a smell that will haunt us in humid weather? Could it be as bad as replacing the door! Any suggestions?

*We’ve tried every odor remover available that promises to eliminate urine odor. So far Stink Free is the only one that does the job (at least to our noses!).

P.S. The cats are not feral. Various neighbors have brought in a number of new dogs and cats. We have no idea where these cats live.

A.    If the stain on your door is not too old and still has some sealing properties, you should be able to remove the odor as you would with a painted door. But stains are not as effective at preventing liquid penetration as paint in good condition would be.

Try a different product: Nok-Out. We have used it many times and I have recommended it to a number of people to solve some horrendous odor problems. The worst of which, in our own experience, is when a daughter, who lived in Boston at the time, came home from work to a very smelly bedroom. Skunks had nested under a porch and let loose. Her bedroom window opened onto that porch. She called me and I had Nok-Out express-ship her a gallon of their product. She sprayed it under the porch and saturated the entire bare earth with it, as instructed. It did the job, and she could reintegrate her bedroom.

Nok-Out, to be effective in a case like this, must contact the entire odor-producing source. Therefore, to eliminate the cat odors, instead of spraying it, soak a rag with it (wear rubber gloves) and rub the affected area for quite a while to make sure that Nok-Out penetrates deep into the wood fibers to get to all the urine that may have soaked in. You’ll have to do the same both inside and outside the door since your own cats have retaliated.

Once the odor is completely gone, you should apply more stain on the door to prevent future penetration if the cats continue to desecrate it. And you should restain every two to three years to keep it effective.

You can order Nok-Out directly from the distributor: Osburn Distributors, PO Box 3799, Pflugerville, TX 78691-3799. E-mail: ted@nokout.com. Phone: toll free – 866.551.1927 or local – 512. 607. 6621, Fax: 512. 607. 6324.

Or better yet, you can order it easily from my Web site, www.henridemarne.com. On the right of my blog’s Q&As, there is a yellow coupon with a 10 percent discount code. If you click on it to place your order and mention the code (HDM), the product will be shipped to you and you will receive the discount.

Meanwhile, I suggest you talk to a vet or other cat expert to find out if there are ways to discourage the cats from continuing their assault on your door.

Where to buy Nok-Out

Q.   I read in your column about Nok-Out, but I cannot find it in any of the local hardware stores. Where would I find this product.  I have an old dresser that has an old smell.  Thanks you.

A.   Nok-Out is a product of Amazing Concepts and is an amazing deodorizer. We have used it to get rid of a pungent skunk odor. The list of odors Nok-Out can eliminate is quite astounding. You can buy it online from Osburne Distributors at www.nokout.com. Click on Shipping & Returns for details.

Odors from utility-room drain

Q.  There has been a very unpleasant sewer-like odor coming from the floor drain in my utility room. We have a 19-year-old tri-level with a basement; the utility room is one level up from the basement. Nothing ever drains into this drain, so the water just sits in the trap and becomes very dark brown/grey and mucky-looking.

The problem seems to be isolated to this one drain; we have a similar floor drain in the basement into which the A/C pipe drains, but that water is clear and odor-free.

I poured a quart of hydrogen peroxide into the smelly drain, allowed it to sit overnight, and flushed it with water. After repeating this process the next day, the water in the trap was a nice, clean color and the smell was gone. However, after two weeks, the smell is starting to come back and the water is turning brown again.

Any idea what could be causing this odor? It’s not a dry trap; there is always water in it, albeit smelly and brown. Instead of doing weekly flushings, do you have  suggestions to permanently get rid of the smell? Do you have any preventive maintenance recommendations to keep my tubs, showers, sinks and other drains nice and clean, and odor-free?

Fortunately the only one that smells is the one in the utility room, but I would like to stay ahead of the game with the other drains.

A.    The water in the utility room drain is turning brown and getting mucky because the cast-iron floor drain is rusting — a common problem. Stagnation will also cause unpleasant odors.

The solution is to change the water on a regular basis by pouring fresh water down it. Instead of peroxide, you can use a small amount of household bleach in the trap once a week to keep it odor-free, but that will not help with rusting.

As for preventive maintenance, I recommend a monthly flushing of all the traps of the house fixtures with Super Washing Soda, following the instructions on the side panel of the big yellow box. You should be able to buy it in the cleaning supplies section of supermarkets.

Smell emanates from new bathroom sink

Q.    Last summer, we renovated our bathroom and had two new sinks installed as part of the work. Lately, there is an awful smell when using one of the sinks. The stopper and trap are both clean. Do you have any suggestions for eliminating the smell?

A.    If the two sinks are made of imitation marble or another plastic substance, it is possible that the chemicals in one of them is outgassing, but it would seem that this would have happened earlier.

Perhaps bacteria have developed in the overflow. Put fresh Clorox bleach in a spray bottle and spray it generously in the overflow opening. If that does not do it, take the stopper out and stuff a rag in the waste pipe to block the end of the overflow. Pour Clorox bleach in the overflow until it is filled and wait until it drains through the rag. Be sure to wear heavy-duty rubber gloves and dispose of the rag when done.